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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 123

(Question No. 1190)


Senator Margetts asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 8 March 1994:

  With reference to the review of Commonwealth and State service provision:

  (1) What are the terms of reference for the review.

  (2) Who are the members of the joint Commonwealth/State working party conducting the review and what are their backgrounds.

  (3) What is the timetable for reporting to governments on the work of the review.

  (4) Has the review been directed to develop indicators of outcomes and the quality of outcomes as well as cost and efficiency indicators.

  (5) What provision has been made for consultation with service users and the community in developing performance measures and assessing reforms implemented or under consideration for each service area.

  (6) Will submissions from service users and the community be accepted and taken into account by the working party.

  (7) What are the initial priority areas to be reviewed and in what sequence will each Commonwealth and State service area be considered in terms of the development of performance indicators and the collection and assessment of service provision reforms.

  (8) Will the results of the review be made available to the public.


Senator Gareth Evans —The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) The terms of reference for the Review of Commonwealth and State Service Provision, as proposed to the Premiers and Chief Ministers on 8 October 1993 and agreed in due course, are as follows:

  "The review, to be conducted by a joint Commonwealth/State and Territory working party, is to undertake the following:

  (a) Establish the collection and publication of data that will enable ongoing comparisons of the efficiency and effectiveness of Commonwealth and State government services, including intra-government services. This will involve:

  establishing performance indicators for different services which would assist comparisons of efficiency and effectiveness.

  The measures should, to the maximum extent possible, focus on the cost effectiveness of service delivery, as distinct from policy considerations that determine the quality and level of services; and

  collecting and publishing data that are consistent with these measures. The review should also address the procedures for the ongoing collection and publication of benchmark data.

  (b) Compile and assess service provision reforms that have been implemented or are under consideration by Commonwealth and State governments.

  The review will cover all major types of reform, including those involving the separation of policy development from service provision.

  Case studies of particular reforms could be provided where appropriate.

  The review will need to keep abreast of developments in other relevant reviews and working parties, including the Commonwealth-State working party, initiated by the Council of Australian Governments, investigating Commonwealth-State roles and responsibilities.

  A preliminary state-of-play should be available for the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments and a further report provided to the Council at its first meeting in 1994."

  At its meeting of 25 February 1994, the Council of Australian Governments received a preliminary progress report from Mr Bill Scales and called for a further report to its next meeting in August 1994. In addition, the Council agreed that: "The Review of Commonwealth and State Service Provision, chaired by Mr Bill Scales of the Industry Commission, is to be asked to give priority to the development of information on educational outputs and outcomes, if appropriate using the Australian Council for Educational Research to provide assistance in this area, and to provide a report. It was further agreed that in the light of this report, the Ministerial Council on Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs should provide advice to the Council on further action."

  (2) The Commonwealth and State Service Provision Steering Committee (the working party) had the following representation at its first meeting:

  Independent chairperson

  Mr Bill Scales, AO

  New South Wales

  Michael Lambert, Treasury

  Robin Sen, Cabinet Office

  Victoria

Judy Tyers, Office of the Premier and Cabinet

Veronica Cosgrove, Office of the Premier and Cabinet

  Queensland

Brian Head, Cabinet Secretariat

Walter Ivessa, Treasury

  South Australia

Anne Howe, Office of Government Management

  Ian Proctor, Treasury

  Western Australia

Petrice Judge, Ministry of the Premier and Cabinet

  Neil Brown, Treasury

  Tasmania

Martin Wallace, Department of Treasury and Finance

  Australian Capital Territory

  Neil Morgan, Treasury

  Northern Territory

Derek Frampton, Department of the Chief Minister

Ken Clark, Department of Finance

  Commonwealth

Eric Thorn, Department of Finance

Bruce Taplin, Treasury

Australian Local Government Association

Chris Russell, Deputy Secretary General

  (3) The timetable for reporting to governments on the work of the review is contained in the terms of reference and in the further directions provided to the review by the Council of Australian Governments. These are reproduced fully in the answer to (1) above.

  (4) The review has been asked to give priority to the development of information on educational outputs and outcomes. All directions given to the review are contained in the answer to (1) above.

  (5) The review is primarily an inter-governmental information gathering exercise. Accordingly, no formal mechanism has been set in place for consultation with service users and the community. Inquiries received from interested parties will be responded to individually by the Chairperson with copies of replies circulated to all members of the working group.

  (6) While not calling for submissions, the Chairperson will accept and respond to written input from service users and the community. Any written input will be drawn to the attention of all members of the working party for their consideration.

  (7) As noted in (1) above, the Council of Australian Governments has requested the review to give priority to the development of information on educational outputs and outcomes. In addition to education, the review is presently undertaking an initial examination of the areas of health, community services, law and order, including courts and prisons, public housing and some corporate service areas, such as information technology. This initial work is with a view to identifying, by the end of March 1994, the areas which will be tackled in the first two years of the review and which areas will be deferred. With the exception of education, no priorities or sequencing of service areas have yet been put in place as the review is still at an early planning stage.

  (8) Yes. Reports in the first place will be made to the Council of Australian Governments. It is intended that substantial reports on the areas investigated will be made public in a manner consistent with the process undertaken for the review of government trading enterprises, also being overseen by a Commonwealth-State Steering Committee and chaired by Mr Bill Scales.