Glossary:Classification of the functions of government (COFOG)

From Statistics Explained

The Classification of the functions of government, abbreviated as COFOG, was developed in its current version in 1999 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and published by the United Nations Statistical Division as a standard classifying the purposes of government activities.

The classification has three levels of detail:

  • divisions;
  • groups;
  • classes.

Divisions describe the broad objectives of government, while groups and classes both define the means by which these broad objectives are achieved.


Government broad objective (division) Sub-items
General public services Executive and legislative organs, financial and fiscal affairs, external affairs foreign economic aid, basic research, R&D related to general public services, public debt services, transfers of a general character between different levels of government
Defence Military and civil defence, foreign military aid, R&D related to defence
Public order and safety Police, fire-protection services, law courts, prisons, R&D related to public order and safety
Economic affairs General economic, labour and commercial affairs, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, fuel and energy, mining, manufacturing and construction, transport, communication, other industries, related R&D
Environmental protection Waste and water waste management, pollution abatement, protection of biodiversity and landscape, related R&D
Housing and community amenities Housing development, community development, water supply, street lighting, R&D related
Health Medical products, appliances and equipment, outpatient, hospital and public health service, R&D related to health
Recreation, culture and religion Recreational and sporting, cultural services, broadcasting and publishing services, religious and other community services, R&D
Education Pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary education, post-secondary non-tertiary education, education nondefinable by level, subsidiary services to education, R&D
Social protection Sickness and disability, old age, survivors, family and children, unemployment, housing, R&D, social exclusion, nec.

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