Australian federal financial control and accountability - A review
Westminster systems of government are often typified by public sector organisations which act as agents of production and distribution. Their activities may be limited either to the provision of ‘public’ goods in situations of market failure or, as is more popularly the case under Westminster systems of government, they may be required to act as direct instruments for the implementation of the economic and welfare policies of the government of the day, as in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Recent years have seen severe criticism in all these countries of the effectiveness of the financial control and accountability processes by which executive government and Parliament can evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of managerial performance towards the welfare and economic goals set for these bodies (see for instance the Fulton Committee, 1968; the Canadian Royal Commission 1979; and the Rae Committee, 1983). This questioning and review applies as much to organisations within the traditional departmental structures of Westminster systems as to their non-departmental counterparts, such as statutory authorities and corporations. But while many of the problems of financial accountability and control are fundamentally similar in these three countries, the proposals for reform and the methods of implementation often differ.