The New South Wales Commission of Audit’s interim report released today provides a timely reminder of the importance of regularly reviewing public sector performance.
Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said that in the face of looming fiscal challenges, all levels of government need to take steps now to build long-term fiscal credibility.
This involves both fiscal restraint and restoring sustainability to government finances.
“The report shows that leaving the performance of the public sector unchecked over time can seriously erode value for money for taxpayers,” said Ms Westacott.
“While the public sector seeks to provide efficient and effective outcomes for the community, the report demonstrates that good intentions are quickly undermined by unclear accountabilities, bureaucratic red tape and a proliferation of government entities.”
Ms Westcott said the report had found systems lacking, poor clarity about roles and insufficient coordination between agencies.
“This not only compromises the quality of service delivery to the community, but it also undermines fiscal discipline at a time when New South Wales faces considerable budgetary pressures.
“We are encouraged that the New South Wales Government is subjecting the public sector to independent scrutiny and that the commission’s final report will shed light on more specific areas of performance and expenditure.
“The recommendations in today’s report are rightly focused around more effective financial management, clearer lines of accountability, management of staff and more effective management of government infrastructure.
“Taking these recommendations forward will be important in proactively addressing the state’s long-term fiscal gap identified by its intergenerational report released last year.
“A high-performing NSW public sector is vital to lifting the state’s competitiveness, and attracting business investment, which will bring significant benefits to the national economy.”
In its recent federal Budget Submission, the Business Council of Australia called for a whole-of-government audit of spending and program efficiency at the federal level.
“The report released today provides a timely demonstration of the good sense and value of this approach,” said Ms Westacott.