The New Public Management supplies a rationale for broadening the mandate of external audit institutions to encompass performance auditing. This article examines conceptual, empirical, and managerial issues raised by external performance auditing. Conceptually, performance auditing is a misnomer for a class of mainly evaluative review activities. Empirically, OECD countries vary in terms of the specific types of performance audits conducted by their principal external audit bodies. Explaining such variation offers some insight into the contemporary politics of public management policy. Managerially, audit bodies whose mandate includes performance auditing confront two major strategic issues: whether to conduct such evaluative reviews in an auditing style and whether to gear their work to achieving performance improvement in auditee organizations
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