Public Sector Accountability and Transparency

This subject is designed for the public sector. It aims to provide an understanding of issues in relation to the role, functions, operations and performance of public sector organisations. It examines underlying concepts and identifies best practice principles.

 Learning outcomes

  • Understand the context within which public sector governance operates
  • Understand, evaluate and recommend appropriate policies and procedures within the public sector to achieve accountability and transparency
  • Be able to identify and critically analyse the accountability and transparency standards within your own or another organisation and provide appropriate advice
  • Understand and be able to apply the governance frameworks and principles that underpin current governance in Australia including the relationship between transparency, trust and good government
  • Recognise and critique the limitations of current governance standards and propose directions for improvement within your own or another organisation and provide appropriate advice

Indicative content

The subject comprises the following 12 modules:

Module 1: Operational context

  • Who is accountable?
  • To whom is one accountable?   
  • What should be transparent?
  • Control and public trust

Module 2: Governance frameworks and principles — Part 1

  • Governance in Australian Government
  • OECD governance framework
  • An integrated global approach to governance
  • Governance standards
  • Comparing private and public sector governance
  • Commitment to compliance

Module 3: Governance frameworks and principles — Part 2

  • The importance of effective public sector governance
  • Achieving effective governance in the public sector
  • Governance practice and performance — Key research findings
  • Directorship for performance and compliance
  • Evaluating performance
  • Focusing on outcomes
  • Evaluation frameworks and tools
  • Causes of underperformance
  • Conclusions on governance standards

Module 4: Governance and policy development

  • The Australian Constitution
  • Setting government direction
  • Public sector management reform

Module 5: Public sector boards

  • Types of public sector entities
  • Public versus private sector boards
  • Board models
  • Separation of powers and role clarity
  • Appointment of board members
  • Statutory duties of directors
  • Board committees
  • Uhrig Review

Module 6: Managing knowledge and information

  • Information, data and technology as a public asset
  • Technological change and innovation
  • Internet website applications and management
  • Data protection and freedom of information legislation
  • Confidentiality
  • Sources of information on law, regulation and administrative best practice
  • Intellectual property

Module 7: Public sector committees and meetings

  • Directors’ meetings versus public sector meetings
  • Parliamentary government
  • Parliamentary committees
  • Agendas
  • Procedural issues

Module 8: Records and reporting — Part 1

  • Records
  • Financial reporting
  • Audit
  • Independent expert report

Module 9: Records and reporting — Part 2

  • Purpose of performance reports
  • Private versus public sector reports
  • Types of public sector reports
  • Characteristics of a good public sector performance report
  • Government business enterprises and companies
  • Future directions

Module 10: Stakeholders and interested parties

  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • Internal stakeholders
  • External stakeholders
  • The private sector

Module 11: Auditor-General and other public sector accountability mechanisms

  • The role of accountability
  • Parliamentary accountability mechanisms
  • Government accountability mechanisms
  • Oversight institutions
  • Freedom of information legislation
  • Accountability in Australia’s federal system

Module 12: Transparency and conflicting interests

  • Transparency
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Revision/Exam preparation

Required texts


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