Public Policy Adrift – The Case for a Business Case Approach – IPAA Howard

3rd April 2012. The public policy making process in Australia is adrift, notwithstanding regular affirmations by governments at all levels to an evidence and consultation-based approach.This paper commissioned from Howard Partners by the IPAA advocates that Public Policy Making adopt a ‘business case’ approach. 

Click here to read/download the report

The paper makes two key recommendations:

  • All future policy initiatives should pass the test of a sound evidence base and a foundation in a demonstrable business case that can be put to the public before the policy is finalised.
  • Further and ongoing investments should be made by Government in building policymaking capability.

An analysis of 18 recent major policies has shown that too few adequately satisfy the standards we should expect. The policies below may be considered to have failed

the business case test, and are generally viewed as failing one or more acid tests; policy appropriateness, service effectiveness and cost efficiency (i.e. value for money):

  • The Alcopops Tax
  • Building the Education Revolution
  • NBN – National Broadband Network
  • Darwin to Alice Springs Railway
  • FuelWatch
  • Green Car Innovation Fund
  • Green Loans Program
  • Home Insulation
  • Grocery Watch
  • Set Top Boxes for pensioners

The NBN has still to be completed, but its failure to observe good policy process lessens its likelihood of success. In the case of the BER the speed
with which it was implemented (to counter the effects of the global financial crisis) meant corners were cut causing problems that might otherwise have
been avoided.

The policies below are generally accepted as reflecting the application and use of information, knowledge, and evidence though not necessarily seeking public input before they were announced:

  • Higher Education – Transforming Australia’s Higher Education System
  • Innovation – Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century
  • Environment – Caring for our Country
  • Taxation – The Resources Super Profits Tax
  • Water – The Murray Darling Basin Plan
  • Energy – Emissions Trading and Carbon Tax
  • Disability – National Disability Strategy 2010-2020
  • Regional Development – Regional Development Australia
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