Ian McPhee: what does it mean to use public money well?

Australia’s auditor-general offered his thoughts on public administration spending at the Australian Government Leadership Network annual conference in Brisbane.

The answers to some questions are straight forward but the answer to this one is not, as there are many factors that need to come together to deliver outcomes that use public money well.

They include:

  1. Government acting in the best interests of the nation;
  2. Government policies being soundly based and well-targeted;
  3. Policies being soundly implemented, their performance monitored, and any required adjustments made, and;
  4. Institutional arrangements working well, particularly those designed to provide transparency in relation to the performance of government policies.

So let us consider these four components.

The role of government

The following quotes provide perspectives on the role of government. James Madison, the fourth president of the United States (1809-17) once observed:

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