Assignment for POGO Managing Government Finances -
The assignment questions are drawn from topics that may ask you to integrate the topics covered across the entire course - or certainly link different topics together in formulating an answer. Your essay answer should be 2800 words.
There are 8 to choose from - YOU ARE ASKED TO ANSWER ONE ONLY.
1. How does government determine what public services or public provisions it will marketize and outsource? Can it demonstrate that claims of greater efficiency are real? Does it matter whether governments deliver through private firms or through NGOs? What risks do governments face with increased reliance on contractual delivery?
2. Are modern governments more interested in ‘principal-agent' contractual management approaches to performance management or ‘joined-up' whole of government collaboration? And are these modes in conflict? Why have governments changed their modes of delivery and has it made a difference (how/why)?
3. Why have many governments chosen to increase markedly their reliance on marketization and the commercialisation of public services? What drove them to do this? How do governments determine which services or provisions will be subjected to user-charging and which won't be?
4. ‘We have contradictory claims that we suffer from an over-burden of accountabilities in relation to public finances, yet arguments that the accountability mechanisms we have are not effective in holding governments to account'. Discuss - giving reasons and evidence to support your arguments.
5. A few years ago the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit made major criticisms of the Commonwealth's outcomes and outputs framework. It claimed the framework and its documentation lacked transparency, did not give meaningful information and made it difficult for legislators to follow where resources were going. Do you agree? Why, why not? What evidence can you point to in support of your argument?
6. Accrual budgeting and accrual reporting is an unnecessary complication for ministers, public managers and line agencies. Discuss using evidence to support your case. What are the benefits of accrual accounting to the public sector - and what are the disadvantages?
7. Have governments improved in the ways they report to the public for their performance - on both their financials and non-financials? What evidence of improvement or deterioration can you identify? Are the public better informed as a result of recent developments in reporting?
8. Like many other countries, Australia practices post-hoc or ‘after-the-event' auditing - which arguably has only limited usefulness in improving public management. Discuss. How well can auditing tackle problems of waste, inefficiency or mis-management? How could audit functions be improved into the future?