25 September 2023

Evidence on show for policymakers

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A former high-flying public sector leader has gone into bat for Public Service policymakers, calling on Governments around the nation to commit to evidence-based processes when making important decisions for the community.

Former Secretary of NSW Treasury and National President of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA), Percy Allan part-funded an independent research project which benchmarked the same 20 Federal and State Government policies against 10 steps good decision making should follow.

The steps were developed by Professor of Public Administration at the University of Queensland Business School, Ken Wiltshire.

Commissioned by the newDemocracy Foundation, the benchmarking was done by two ‘think tanks’, representing the competing ends of the political spectrum – the conservative Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and the progressive Per Capita Australia.

Professor Allan said the Wiltshire criteria focused on good process, not results, because the net fiscal, social, economic and environmental impact of a policy may not be known for a long time.

“The think tank reports’ findings involve judgements only about process, not policy,” Professor Allan said.

“In six cases the think tanks ratings suggest a solid process had been followed by the Governments involved, rather than being reactive and ad hoc as often perceived by the public,” he said.

“In four cases the ratings were well below par.

“In the balance of cases the process quality was mixed.”

Professor Allan said the think tanks’ yes/no scores on the Wiltshire criteria were remarkably similar in 18 of the 20 case studies.

“This suggests that Australians might agree on the process they want governments to follow in making policies, especially where they are costly or contentious,” he said.

“Good policy process is also good politics.”

The researchers’ reports can be accessed on the newDemocracy Foundation website at this PS News link.

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