BETA testing: new behavioural economics team in PM&C

The federal government is establishing its own nudge unit, while the Assistant Cabinet Secretary hits back at Laura Tingle’s “imagined golden era” critique of public service expertise.

The federal government will establish a new behavioural economics team in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, following the lead of New South Wales, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The NSW government established a similar central team within the Department of Premier and Cabinet in 2012.

Assistant cabinet secretary Senator Scott Ryan made the announcement this morning at a public policy conference in Canberra, directly before a presentation from US academic Cass Sunstein, who led a similar unit in the White House before going back into academia in 2012.

At federal level, some agencies like the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Human Services are already applying behavioural economics, which was introduced to federal mandarins during the discontinued DesignGov initiative in 2013.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.

  • Grahame Cook

    Good to see the establishment of a Behavioural Economics team within PM&C, building on the success of such initiatives in other areas of the APS and elsewhere. A valuable additional resource in understanding policy challenges and opportunities and potential responses.