Since the early ‘80s of the last century, Italy has experienced different waves of spending reviews. The ideal aim of these processes is (at least) twofold: efficiency, namely to reach public goals at a lower cost, and effectiveness, that is, to clearly state priorities of public activity. Has any of the different reviews in Italy ever been successful? Even taking into account the most recent experience, it would be hard to reply affirmatively. So what are the sources of this long series of failures? And why international experience, on the contrary, seems to reach its goals? To answer, we review international experience, scientific literature, and provide a detailed story of the different attempts of spending reviews in Italy. Our conclusions are that lack of political will and lack of economic competence among Italian bureaucracy are the most likely causes: and that the appointment of external technocrats is not the solution, particularly under illdefined mandates.
Keywords: Spending review, political rents, bureaucracy, public spending, Italy, technocracy, efficiency.
Jel Code: H5, H6