State Audit of Public Private Partnerships in Australia: A Lack of Public Accountability?
4th International Conference on Accounting, Auditing and Management in Public Sector Reforms EIASM, 7-9 September 2006, Siena, Italy
66 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2009
Date Written: September 7, 2006
This paper tests English and Guthrie's (2003) proposition that Departments of Treasury are the sole evaluators of PPPs by mapping the focus, extent and patterning of state audit of PPPs in Australia in a period spanning 1988-2005. The supporting tasks undertaken in the paper are threefold: (1) a review of the audit and public accountability literature associated with PPPs; (2) a stocktake of the financial value, categories and jurisdiction of PPP activity; and (3) identification of twenty-two key elements steering PPP development, implementation, management and public accountability disclosure. PPP audit is mapped against these elements to determine the focus, extent and patterning PPP audits.
The paper confirms the contested nature of performance audit, and its dependence on situationally-specific social and organisational factors (Parker and Guthrie, 1999). A consideration of totality of PPP audit in Victoria suggests that information is available to the parliament and the public, but it is difficult to find the relevant information, weakening public accountability.
We conclude that not all PPP projects, or even all PPP categories, appear to have been subject to systematic auditing by any of Australia's auditors-general. The results confirm Watson's (2003) observation that public accountability of PPP arrangements is weakened by a diffusion of disclosure, including disclosures by Australian auditors-general.
Keywords: Private Partnerships in Australia, PPPs, key elements steering PPP development, accountability disclosure, Australian auditors-general
JEL Classification: M40, M41, M48, M49, H42, L33, R42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation