The federal government aims to cut waste and improve the quality of its spending by establishing a Treasury unit dedicated to evaluating the effectiveness of programs.
Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh has revealed the budget will include $10 million over four years to set up a centralised evaluation unit that will partner with government agencies to assess the effectiveness of key programs and strengthen the evaluation capacity of the Australian Public Service.
Dr Leigh, who has championed the need to improve the quality of government spending, said that the evaluation of programs had been piecemeal and needed to improve.
"Rigorous impact measurement is fundamental to good government," he said.
"The Albanese government is committed to measuring what works. Quality evaluation will save taxpayers money, and help government design and adapt programs to better serve the community."
Dr Leigh said the evaluations undertaken by new unit would include randomised policy trials and would allow the assess the effectiveness of policies "with the same rigour we use to test new medical treatments."
Dr Leigh's announcement follows the release of report showing that the effectiveness of around $200 billion of federal government spending in the past decade has not been properly evaluated, raising the risk that much of it has been wasted on ineffective programs.
According to an analysis of 20 federal government social programs by the Committee for Development of Australia, just one - the $89 billion JobKeeper program - had been properly evaluated for its effectiveness while a quarter had not been subject to any form of assessment and 70 per cent were only partially evaluated.
CEDA said the lack of progress in reducing poverty and disadvantage in the past decade showed that much of the spending had been ineffective.
Soon after it was elected, the federal government implemented a Commonwealth Evaluation Policy which aimed to "embed a culture of evaluation and learning...to underpin evidence-based policy and delivery" for the public service.
It is understood the Treasury-based evaluation unit will undertake program evaluations in partnership with departments and agencies to not only guide more effective spending but help build their assessment capabilities.
The government also expects that improving APS's evaluation capacity will help reduce its reliance on consultants, in line with its goal to cut spending on consultants, contractors, legal services and travel by $3 billion. Austender data shows around $50 million a year goes on evaluations undertaken by private consultants.
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