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Costs-results accounting, management control and resource planning in the Foreign Service

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With the introduction of management control and resource planning the Federal Service is raising its profile as a modern ministry and a pioneer in the debate of “lean government”.

The Federal Foreign Office has been applying target-oriented planning and management methods based on costs-results accounting to the whole of the Foreign Service since 2000, and hopes to have obtained sufficient data by 2005.

This project is part of the efforts of the Federal Government to reform and modernize the federal administration (under the slogans “Lean Government” and “Modern State - Modern Administration”), which envisage the application of business management instruments to the public service.

The challenge for the Foreign Service is to use its limited resources effectively and efficiently and to focus its work on its core tasks. Costs-results accounting, management control and resource planning are its chosen tools. The measures undertaken in the Foreign Service ensure that the costs and outputs of all units around the world are systematically and efficiently recorded. As well as providing precise information on the costs of the Foreign Service, its global network of missions abroad and its many tasks, the data can also be used as a basis for comparing costs and results (benchmarking). This is a means of optimizing key organizational structures and procedures, such as issuing passports and visas. The information obtained from costs-results accounting, management control and resource planning is also used to measure and adjust the staffing levels and structures at the missions abroad as part of the Foreign Service's human resources planning.

The Federal Foreign Office is further developing its management control and resource planning methods by increasingly relying on defining targets and on performance-enhancing competition. The focus here is on assisting the Foreign Office leadership in its general decisions regarding the Foreign Service, and in particular, financial and non-financial strategies and planning. With the help of regular brain-storming exercises the Foreign Office is progressively increasing the proportion of its various functions that can be proactively steered and planned. It thereby fosters the initiative, motivation, forward planning and responsibility of all members of staff.

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