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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2773 ..

MS FOLLETT (continuing):

I think there is a very big difference, though, between outputs and outcomes. It is the impact on the community of those outputs that I believe still has to be focused upon very closely. So it is the outcomes in terms of not just quantity but also quality of goods and services that the community is receiving that I think have to be focused on very closely. In adopting this new model, I do hope that the Government does not overdo the outputs and underdo the outcomes. That is just a word of caution about that.

Another matter I wanted to mention, Mr Speaker, is in relation to both outputs and outcomes, and that is that, as the Government proceeds on its path of contracting out a greater range of governmental goods and services, the accountability for both outputs and outcomes is diminished. Whilst you might contract for a particular level of service or a particular type of service to be delivered, the accountability when a contractor does that is not the same as when the Government itself does that. The accountability to this Assembly is particularly affected through areas like the Estimates Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and so on.

The fact of the matter is that we cannot haul the contractor up before us and make them account for every dollar that they have spent on behalf of the Government for every service they have performed; but we could do it if it were the Government Service still providing those goods and those services. So there is a diminution of accountability. This is a well-known fact, Mr Speaker, and I would ask the Government to refer to any of the literature on contracting out if they do not want to take my word for it. It is a fact that the same level of accountability is simply not there. The same amount of scrutiny is not possible either. So, Mr Speaker, that is another word of caution about the Government's new model for performance indicators measurement.

As I said, Mr Speaker, I do not think this will be the last time the Assembly debates the issue. It is clearly one which goes to the heart of the government's performance and one in which the Assembly, year by year, has expressed a great deal of interest in assessing the government's performance on some sort of standard format. I would like to echo what Ms Horodny has said about the importance of qualitative as well as quantitative measurement. I hope that, in this diagrammatic presentation and the attempt to standardise measurement, those qualitative outcomes will not be overlooked. I thank members for their contributions to the debate. It was a report that was produced last year, so it has taken quite a while to be finalised; but I very much doubt whether this is, in fact, the final word that will be said on it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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