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Public Sector Accountability and Transparency

Key subject details

Subject Public Sector Accountability and Transparency
Description 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.
Year of delivery 2024
Award Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance and Risk Management
Chartered Governance Institute Qualifying Program Chartered Secretary
Core/Elective Core
Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) level 8
Subject credit points 10
Total course credit points 60
Pre-requisites None
Assumed knowledge None
Mode of study Online
Part-time/Full-time Part-time over one semester
Teaching weeks 12
Student workload 164 hours comprising:

  • two (2) time-tabled hours per taught week
  • ten (10) personal study hours per taught week
  • twenty (20) personal study hours for exam preparation
Assessment task (Weighting) Presentation (20%)
Assignment (40%)
Examination (40%)
Key contacts Further information to assist you in your studies at Governance Institute can be requested from:

Subject learning outcomes

  1. Understand the context within which public sector governance operates.
  2. Understand, evaluate and recommend appropriate policies and procedures within the public sector to achieve accountability and transparency.
  3. Be able to identify and critically analyse the accountability and transparency standards within your own or another organisation and provide appropriate advice.
  4. 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.
  5. Recognise and critique the limitations of current governance standards and propose directions for improvement within your own or another organisation and provide appropriate advice.

Subject aims

The practice of good governance is not one of identifying the single form of best practice that will suit all circumstances. Rather, it is a process that requires the following:

  • identifying the principles of good governance
  • applying these principles to the particular circumstances of particular organisations.

The aim of this subject is therefore to assist you in identifying and applying the underlying principles of good governance for the public sector.

Indicative content

The subject is divided into 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
  • How is Australia performing?
  • 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
  • Organisational culture and values
  • Causes of underperformance
  • Conclusions on governance standards

Module 4 — Performance evaluation and continuous improvement

  • Forms and approaches of evaluation
  • Purpose of performance reports
  • The role of evaluation
  • Evaluation frameworks and tools
  • Focusing on outcomes
  • International metrics and indices
  • Characteristics of a good public sector performance reporting

Module 5 — Governance and policy development

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

Module 6 — 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 7 — Managing knowledge and information

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

Module 8 — Public sector committees and meetings

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

Module 9 — Records and reporting

  • Records
  • Private versus public sector reports
  • Types of public sector reports
  • Financial reporting
  • Government business enterprises and companies
  • Audit
  • Independent expert report

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

Prescribed texts