Using a Comparative Method in Performance Audit for Evaluating Effectiveness of the Elite-Sports Policy: The Case of Estonia

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Külli Taro Eerik Hanni


In 2011, the Estonian National Audit Office conducted a performance audit of the Estonian national elite-sports policy. The elite-sports system was assessed based on the international research methodology called SPLISS (Sports Policy Factors Leading to International Sporting Success) developed by a group of international scholars. The article demonstrates how scientific research can contribute to performance auditing. It helps auditors to fulfill the task of giving more in-depth exploratory, not only descriptive, analysis. However, the Estonian case demonstrates that success in the highly competitive international sporting arena may occur despite the shortcomings in public policy. Other contextual factors outside public policy and the availability of resources may lead to success. Although SPLISS aims for comprehensive and systematic diagnosis of a sports system, it does not fully explain why some nations are more successful in international competitions than others. SPLISS is useful in developing an audit methodology, but the unclear cause-and-effect relationship between sports policy and success of athletes creates difficulties in giving policy advice. But advising governments on better policy performance is considered to be an essential part of a modern performance audit.

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