Crashing Through with Accrual-Output Price Budgeting in Australia : Technical Adjustment or a New Way of Doing Business?
In 1999 Australia embarked on an accrual budgetary methodology in conjunction with an ambitious outcomesoutputs framework. The changes were entirely driven by central budgetary agencies who wanted to see the total costs (or prices) of outputs reflected in budgetary documentation and evidence of value for money in declared results. The government also decided to implement the changes within 1 year, and by adopting a crash-through mentality the central actors persevered and successfully achieved their main objective. Many problems, dilemmas, and inconsistencies were encountered along the way, not the least of which raised questions about the very nature of the annual budget. This article examines the trajectory of these reforms and asks how successfully they were implemented and accepted. It also raises questions about many of the decisions made in the process of change and whether the quality of budgetary information has improved the cabinet decision-making process. The article argues that accrual budgeting was implemented in Australia with many compromises and adaptations, but that the exercise should be understood primarily as part of a broader process of public sector reform.
American Review of Public Administration