The Role of Private Sector Governance in the Australian Public Sector

Improving society’s well-being, for example through the provision of better education (that is, improved education access, better educational facilities, and higher literacy and numeracy outcomes) have been seen as the fundamental responsibility of governments, achieved according to the rhetoric by strong and sustainable economic growth and through the effective and efficient administration of government finances and a better governed public sector.

In Australia the move to introduce New Public Management [NPM] techniques in the APS, drawing on private sector practices, began in the seventies, and has included performance measurement, accrual accounting and budgeting, and a change to outcomes and outputs reporting, with the aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector. But there is some question over the effectiveness of the new practices, with some commentators stating there is still work to be done, others questioning the validity of the new methods for the public sector, whilst a number of writers suggest that the techniques fail to adequately take account of the needs and demands of the public sector.

The essay I am publishing here moves slightly away from my previous blog posts, but explores an issue I have been researching. Whilst it does not directly draw on education management literature or themes, it explores the broader issues of governance in the public sector, with a particular focus on accountability and transparency. It concludes by suggesting that it may be necessary to review the new public management practices, but it is not an argument that governance models should be abandoned, instead it suggests further research may be needed before we fully understand the complexities and how best we can solve the wicked problems that face our society.

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Wicked Problems

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