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Public Sector Governance in Australia

Public Sector Governance in Australia

Meredith Edwards
John Halligan
Bryan Horrigan
Geoffrey Nicoll
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Public Sector Governance in Australia
    Book Description:

    Australia lacks a scholarly book that covers recent developments in public sector governance in Australia and blends cross-disciplinary perspectives from law, management, public administration and public policy. The primary reason for writing this book is to fill the gap in the treatment of this subject, and to provide insights from empirical evidence and current practice. The book provides the first comprehensive theoretical and empirical work on governance in the Commonwealth public sector. It addresses the issues that emerged under the Howard government as well as their handling under the Rudd and Gillard governments. The book aims to enhance understanding of and communication about public governance across government, industry and the community. The authors bring to this book expertise gained from political science, public administration and policy, public and private sector law.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-90-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    This book examines public governance in the Australian Commonwealth public sector, especially from the late-twentieth century to the early twenty-first century. This a period in which public governance has been informed and influenced by the principles and actions of private sector corporate governance but also, more generally, by how government departments and agencies, in their decision-making processes, increasingly relate to other government bodies and to organisations outside the government sector.

    There are at least three strong reasons for the interest in the topic of public sector governance. One reason is the trend toward a general acceptance by government of the...

  6. Part I. Context and Framework

    • 1. Dimensions of Governance for the Public Sector
      (pp. 9-34)

      Governance is concerned with how societies, governments and organisations are managed and led. Importantly, this includes how they structure and otherwise order their affairs, make decisions and exercise powers, and manage their relationships and accountabilities. Official governance frameworks and standards, which have been developed across sectoral and geographical boundaries, contain commonalities and differences in their illumination of key governance concepts, principles and applications. These features are not developed in a social, political and legal vacuum; they reflect underlying values, practices and other norms of governance, they are enshrined in the governance architecture and arrangements for Australiaʹs system of government and...

    • 2. Rise of Corporate and Public Governance
      (pp. 35-58)

      This chapter examines the emergence of governance as a primary concept during the last three decades and the ways in which two different forms of governance — corporate governance and public governance — have risen to prominence in the Australian public sector. To understand the significance of this it is necessary to explore the context of public sector reforms, and specific policy and reform agendas. The changing theories and broader conceptions of governance that were considered in chapter 1 assist with this task.

      The intersection of the public and private sectors has been a fundamental and under-researched dimension of changing...

    • 3. Exploring Tensions in Public Governance
      (pp. 59-78)

      Chapter 3 explores a number of tensions that underlie the different aspects of public sector governance that are examined in subsequent chapters of this book. These areas of tension are firstly: those currently encountered in the relationship between politicians and the bureaucracy; secondly, those existing within the organisational foundations of central government departments; thirdly, tensions arising in the integration of authorities and companies established under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (Cth) (CAC Act); fourthly, tensions arising in processes of coordination and collaboration within government and between government and external groups; and finally, tensions associated with defining and adopting...

  7. Part II. Rise of Corporate and Public Governance

    • 4. System Governance
      (pp. 81-106)

      System governance refers to public sector governance that is focused on the centre of government and takes that perspective in viewing departmental governance (chapter 5) and authority governance (chapter 6). This typically involves cross-public service (or public sector) activity, which has significant implications for the specialised line agencies that make up the bulk of the machinery of government. There is a pervasive vertical basis to the public sector that reflects hierarchical relationships, but also a strong horizontal quality in the sense that agencies are required to comply and respond to standards across the sector and increasingly expected to collaborate (chapter...

    • 5. Departmental Governance
      (pp. 107-130)

      The department of state forms the core unit of the machinery of government at Commonwealth and state government levels. As ministerial departments, they play a central role in supporting the minister and communicating, directing and coordinating within a functional sphere of activity. For this reason, governance in and around the department has several dimensions. Departmental governance addresses how they handle their internal operations and external relationships.

      The roles and operations of departments of state were historically derived from the notion of the ministerial department and government machinery that was good at forming and communicating policy advice; providing a range of...

    • 6. Board Governance in Authorities and Companies
      (pp. 131-150)

      As seen in chapter 4, governance across the public sector ʹsystemʹ as a whole encompasses both departmental governance (chapter 5) and the governance of authorities and companies. The governance of these authorities and companies is the subject of this chapter. Although Commonwealth authorities and companies are an important arm of central government, their governance is founded upon the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (Cth) (CAC Act) rather than the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (Cth) (FMA Act). As a result, they are more likely than other public sector bodies to be influenced by principles of corporate law and...

    • 7. Participatory Governance
      (pp. 151-172)

      Previous chapters in this volume have dealt with horizontal aspects of governance but largely as they occur within government. As indicated in chapter 1, however, compared to 10 or 15 years ago, the move toward horizontal governance arrangements that involves non-government organisations and citizens has accelerated. Collaborative behaviours involving many more networked-type arrangements are increasingly observed in a post-new public management (NPM) environment (e.g. OECD 2009a); this was a major theme of the Advisory Group on the Reform of Australian Government Administrationʹs (AGRAGA) review Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration (AGRAGA 2010). The Advisory...

  8. Part III. Key Issues

    • 8. Creating and Regulating Public Sector Bodies
      (pp. 175-200)

      Many of the matters that are covered in the first two parts of this book become most significant when governance structures and other arrangements for public sector bodies are designed, implemented and reviewed. This occurs, for example, when new bodies are created, existing bodies are restructured, and new or revised governance regulatory requirements are introduced. Accordingly, the formulation of governance arrangements and key appointments for public sector bodies warrant attention from both central and organisational perspectives. These topics constitute the focus of chapters 8 and 9 respectively.

      The conventional spectrum of bureaucratisation, commercialisation, corporatisation and privatisation of government entities still...

    • 9. Appointments and Boards
      (pp. 201-222)

      This chapter focuses on the senior appointment processes for the public sector bodies that were discussed in the last chapter. It deals with appointments at the Commonwealth level for authorities that operate under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (Cth) (CAC Act). As indicated in earlier chapters, these bodies have the power to make and implement decisions on matters related to the public purpose of the entity, unlike those that fall under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (Cth) (FMA Act) such as departments of state. There are guidelines for the selection of Australian Public Service (APS) agency...

    • 10. Public Governance: Challenges and Issues in an Age of Uncertainty
      (pp. 223-238)

      This concluding chapter has four purposes: to identify system-wide challenges arising from recent governance trends; to review the continuing tensions that emerge from contemporary public sector governance; to assess the implications of these for good governance and performance; and to canvass possible ways forward, given the contradictory agendas and uncertainties in the current environment. These include the ability to deliver on official objectives, such as an adaptable public governance system for the twenty-first century. The analysis draws on key themes and issues from the preceding chapters, and relates them to ongoing and emerging governance priorities and challenges.

      A decade ago,...

  9. Appendix 1: Methodology for Interview Study 2004–07
    (pp. 239-240)
  10. Appendix 2: Flipchart of FMA Act Agencies and CAC Act bodies, 15/2/12
    (pp. 241-242)
  11. Appendix 3: The Stages in a Good Appointment Process
    (pp. 243-244)
  12. References
    (pp. 245-282)
  13. Index
    (pp. 283-290)