Andrew Podger

Andrew Podger is Honorary Professor of Public Policy at The Australian National University. He was previously a senior public servant in the Australian Government.

Designing Governance Structures for Performance and Accountability »

Developments in Australia and Greater China

Publication date: 2020
Designing Governance Structures for Performance and Accountability discusses how formal and informal governance structures in Australia, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan may be designed to promote performance and to ensure accountability. The book presents a selection of papers developed from the Greater China Australia Dialogue on Public Administration’s seventh workshop held in June 2017 hosted by City University of Hong Kong. Insights are provided on both current developments in the different contexts of the three jurisdictions examined, and on broader institutional and organisational theories. Chapters cover theories of organisational forms and functions in public administration, the ‘core’ agency structures used in the different jurisdictions, the structures used to deliver public services (including non-government organisational arrangements) and other ‘non-core’ agency structures such as government business enterprises, regulatory organisations and ‘integrity’ organisations. A particular emphasis is placed on the institutional arrangements the executive arm of government uses for advising on and implementing government policies and programs. Although the book explores arrangements and developments within very different political governance systems, the purposes of the structures are similar: to promote performance and accountability. This book is a companion volume to Value for Money: Budget and Financial Management Reform in the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and Australia (ANU Press, 2018).

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Value for Money »

Budget and financial management reform in the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and Australia

Publication date: January 2018
The Greater China Australia Dialogue on Public Administration has held annual workshops since 2011 on public administration themes of common interest to the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and Australia. This book presents and discusses a selection of papers developed from the Dialogue’s fifth workshop held in late 2015 hosted by the National Taiwan University in Taipei. The theme, ‘Value for Money’, focused on budget and financial management reforms, including how different nations account for the relative performance of their public sectors. All governments face the challenge of scarce resources requiring budgetary management processes for identifying the resources required by and available to government, and then for allocating them and ensuring their use or deployment represents value for money. Such budgetary and financial management processes need to inform decision-making routinely and protect the integrity of the way public resources are used – with some public accountability to indicate that their uses are properly authorised and reflect the policies of legitimate government leaders. The chapters in this book explore budgeting and financial management in three very different jurisdictions: Australia, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan). These activist and at times innovative countries are keen to analyse and reflect upon each other’s policy achievements and patterns of public provision. They are keen to learn more about each other as their economic and social engagement continues to deepen. They are also conscious that fundamental differences exist in terms of economic development and global strategic positioning, and levels and philosophies of political development; to an extent these differences are representative of differences amongst countries around the globe.

Sharpening the Sword of State »

Building executive capacities in the public services of the Asia-Pacific

Publication date: November 2016
Sharpening the Sword of State explores the various ways in which 10 jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific enhance their administrative capabilities through training and executive development. It traces how modern governments across this region look to develop their public services and public sector organisations in the face of rapid global change. For many governments there is a delicate balance between the public interest in promoting change and capacity enhancement across the public service, and the temptation to micro-manage agencies and be complacent about challenging the status quo. There is a recognition in the countries studied that training and executive development is a crucial investment in human capital but is also couched in a much wider context of public service recruitment, patterns of entry and retention, promotion, executive appointment and career development. This empirical volume, authored by academics and practitioners, is one of the first to chart these comparative differences and provide fresh perspectives to enable learning from international experiences.

Measuring and Promoting Wellbeing »

How Important is Economic Growth?

Publication date: April 2014
Australia continues to be at the forefront of international work on measuring and promoting wellbeing, Ian Castles being a significant contributor over the last forty years as an official and academic. This book combines a selection of Castles’ important work with contemporary research from a range of contributors. The material is in four parts: 1. The role of economics in defining and promoting wellbeing 2. Measuring real income and wellbeing 3. Measuring inequality 4. Climate change and the limits to growth. The issues canvassed are both long-standing and current. Does economic growth contribute to wellbeing? How different is income to wellbeing? How do we measure societal wellbeing and take its distribution into account? The book will be of value to all those looking to informed debate on global challenges such as reducing poverty, sustaining the environment and advancing the quality of life, including politicians, commentators, officials and academics.

With the Benefit of Hindsight »

Valedictory Reflections from Departmental Secretaries, 2004–11

Publication date: April 2012
Secretaries of government departments in Australia are the bureaucratic leaders of their generation. They are ambitious, highly-talented executives who have risen to the very pinnacle of their chosen vocation – public service to the Australian nation – usually after having spent most, if not all, of their professional careers dedicated to the public service. They serve governments as their top advisers and in policy terms are often some of the most important decision-makers in the country. This collection brings together the valedictory speeches and essays from a departing group of secretaries (and one or two other equivalent agency heads) who left the Australian Public Service between 2004 and 2011. Over this period of time it gradually became accepted that departing secretaries and heads of significant agencies would present a valedictory address to their peers at a public farewell function. The first two speeches in this collection were initiated informally and given at functions organised by their agencies; in 2005 the process was formalised with the Australian Public Service Commission acting as organiser. These contributions contain reflections, commentaries, occasional fond memories or key turning-points in careers, critiques of changes that have occurred and an outline of the remaining challenges their successors will face as the public administrators of tomorrow. From the outset it is clear that there is no uniform message, no single narrative levelled either in praise or in criticism, other than pride in the public service and strong belief in the contribution it makes to the Australian community. They have their own personal ‘takes’ on how the public service looks to them, on its performance and on the challenges confronting public administration into the future. Most spend some time looking back, reflecting on the extent of change that has occurred over the length of their careers; but equally importantly they look forward, anticipating future policy dilemmas and capacity challenges.

The Role of Departmental Secretaries »

Personal reflections on the breadth of responsibilities today

Authored by: Andrew Podger
Publication date: June 2009
Andrew Podger’s monograph, The Role of Departmental Secretaries, Personal reflections on the breadth of responsibilities today, is an important contribution to the broader public policy discourse in Australia. Andrew has been, at times, an unflinching commentator on issues of bureaucratic performance, accountability and responsiveness to government. Andrew’s reflections are drawn from his own experiences within the inner circle of Australian policy-making. In this monograph, he presents a highly nuanced portrait of the role of Commonwealth departmental secretaries. Although a ‘player’ himself at key moments in recent policy history, Andrew is a dispassionate and thoughtful observer of events. This is not merely a memoir: this work is rich in analysis and Andrew offers a number of ‘lessons learned’ to be heeded (or not) by the present and future generations of policy practitioners.