Magazine article Impact

Mapping Our Future: COAG Reform Agenda

Magazine article Impact

Mapping Our Future: COAG Reform Agenda

Article excerpt

New funding arrangements to drive service reforms

At the time of writing, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) was due to meet to resolve new Commonwealth/State funding agreements covering health, education, disability services and housing.

These funding agreements are part of a broad and potentially far-reaching set of reforms to Commonwealth/State relations being driven by COAG, which recognises the 'unique opportunity for Commonwealth-State cooperation to end the blame game and buck passing, and to take major steps forward for the Australian community.'

A key plank of the reform agenda is the development of human capital and the delivery of better services to citizens.

The new agreements will subsume the many existing Specific Purpose Payments (SPPs are tied grants from the Commonwealth to the States) into a small number of national funding agreements in the areas of healthcare, early childhood development and schools, vocational education and training, disability services and housing.

Under the agreements, States will have greater flexibility to allocate resources to areas where they will produce the best results. Each new national SPP agreement will contain a clear, mutually agreed statement of:

* objectives, outcomes and outputs

* performance indicators to accompany the objectives, outcomes and outputs

* the roles and responsibilities of each level of government.

The new agreements will be ongoing payments with periodic funding and performance reviews, rather than five year 'take it or leave it' arrangements. The reformed SPPs will be accompanied by a new reporting framework that will focus on the achievement of results, value for money and timely provision of publicly available performance information.

Over and above these SPP agreements, the Commonwealth will provide the States with National Partnership Payments (NPPs) to deliver on nationally significant economic and social reforms. Reward payments will be structured to encourage the achievement of specific reform targets, and this will be independently assessed by the COAG Reform Council.

In October, COAG signed the first National Partnership Agreement, covering Indigenous Early Childhood Development. …

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