VOCA

An aviation researcher, writer, aviation participant, pilot & agricultural researcher. Author of over 35 scientific publications world wide.

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#casa – Stop wasting #aviation industry money with discrepant data

Judith Sloane in The Australian today directs our attention to recent waste that Department’ never should allow to occur.

The community deserves better.

Let’s look at the regulator, #casa, who received a specific budget increase in 2010, under the Labor Party and @alboMP

The levy is still in place and continues to 2016, but buried in the amounts from the Department sources with a whole range of other sources of money for the intransigent #casa. The amount is not split off from “Funds from Government”, yet the special levy of 2010 is a distinct impost and contribution from industry.

Why has #casa failed to report this in a separate manner??

budget-estimates-may-2016

In the 2010-2011 Budget papers, there are a number of graphs which show the “Special appropriations”, but these have disappeared by 2016.

 

budget-2010-2011

AND:

2010-2011-casa-budgetcasa-staffing-2011So between 2011 and 2016, a staff number of 841 becomes 795 in 2015 and 805 by 2016. The basis for extra money is certainly made on the 2010 staff numbers and this now is shown for what it really is, a “discrepant set of data”

The moral to this is, #casa have not used this $89.9m [(sic) money] properly and should be called to account.


  • The Australian

Let’s hope it is dawning on more people that the federal government simply wastes money hand over fist. If it is not the revelation that $1 billion across two years was fraudulently claimed for childcare not delivered, surely the expose that close to $3bn — which will never be recovered — was paid in one year to vocational education providers convinces the sceptical observer.

But we shouldn’t think it stops there. Just think of the money wasted in Indigenous Affairs; the rorts and loopholes in health (prosthetic devices charged at four times the market price); welfare payments made to those who should be deemed ineligible; the money that has been fleeced by Employment Network providers and the list goes on.

I am not even talking about money spent that is ineffective, which is different from money that is falsely or deceptively claimed. If we were to include ineffective government spending — think spending on schools that has not led to any improvement in student performance — then we are talking about many, many billions of dollars. It would be an interesting exercise to estimate the proportion of the $400bn-odd of annual federal government spending that actually achieves its purpose in a meaningful way.

If we are to believe Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Martin Parkinson, however, the solution is simple: get public servants to think about policy implementation.

“We can better integrate policy design and implementation,” Parkinson says. “And not just in a linear way, but in an adaptive and flexible feedback loop which captures learning of the past and embraces future opportunities.” (This is how public servants in Canberra speak, by the way. Hands up those not in favour of adaptive and flexible feedback loops.)

In a speech to the Australasian Implementation Conference (no, I am not making this up), Parkinson concludes that “creating ‘policy communities’ of those who are making policy, those implementing policy on the ground or those working in think tanks enables us to be constantly environment scanning, allowing us to see earlier and more clearly the opportunities for better outcomes, as well as identifying the emerging or inherent risks in our approaches”.

I guess he had the home insulation program or the VET FEE-HELP in mind when he referred to the inherent risks. And who doesn’t love a bit of environment scanning? I’m always environment scanning — staring out the window of my study wondering what I’m going to write about next.

But here’s a tip, Martin: what about telling the politicians that they shouldn’t even think of intervening or spending precious taxpayer funds no matter how worthy the objective of the proposed program might be?

But this is not his mindset: “Good public servants are always asking how things can be done better, what changes could be implemented to improve effectiveness, reduce risk and deliver better outcomes for the people of Australia.” The idea of terminating policy, exiting an area or advising politicians to do nothing simply doesn’t occur to him, it would seem.

Let’s face it, Martin, we have all the tools in our economists’ kit bag to know that there are certain situations where the benefits of policies will never exceed their costs. Asymmetric information, high compliance costs, bounded rationality, ill-defined outcomes: these are some of the reasons governments should take the decision to leave well enough alone.

There may be deficiencies in the unfettered situation but it is naive and extraordinarily expensive always to think it can be made better through government intervention and funding.

Sadly, this possibility doesn’t seem to occur to Parkinson. Indeed, he is very enthusiastic about the unit within his department that uses behavioural economics (does anyone think this has been a useful development in economics?), “so we can design policy that is more sensitive to a citizen’s likely interaction with that policy”.

Yes, it’s a sort of nudge unit so us dumb citizens who don’t know what is in our best interests can be directed to behave in more appropriate ways. It’s nanny lurking behind the curtains telling us what to do — in a sensitive way, of course.

Then we have Parkinson’s (and, indeed, the Prime Minister’s) love affair with Big Data, information that has been forcibly collected by the government from citizens for one purpose, linked and then provided or sold to pretty much anyone.

“The federal government’s Digital Transformation Office is working on digital delivery to make engaging with government easier. The public service is increasingly making public government data sets available so that researchers and others (trigger warning here) can better understand policy interactions and program outcomes.”

Because this has worked out so well with the recent release of data on Medicare patients and their doctors — not. Within a nanosecond of its release, researchers were able to crack the algorithms and identify the doctors. And within a few more nanoseconds they would have been able to identify some of the patients.

I bet you didn’t realise it when you swiped your Medicare card at the GP surgery that you would be identified by a bunch of researchers at a university looking at your medical history.

My guess is that this initiative will blow up quite soon as it dawns on people the information they have been forced to provide to government on a confidential basis for a specific purpose is being mixed with other data and handed off to pretty much anyone. M

y question to Martin: have the public servants really assessed the risks?

To tell you the truth, I’m not buying all this stuff about public servants always asking how things can be done better. Sight-challenged Frederica could see the pink batts program was always going to end in disaster, with unethical and inexperienced opportunists likely to be lured by the smell of easy government money.

And she easily could have predicted the fiasco of the VET FEE-HELP program in which vulnerable people were enticed to sign up to undertake overpriced and shonky or overpriced and non-existent courses offered by fly-by-night operators.

It wasn’t a case of public servants not doing a good job; it was a case of public servants not doing their job. Billions of dollars later, it’s a bit rich to have Parkinson patting his charges on the back.

That government is the problem rather than the solution is a proposition he may want to consider more often.