Overall, the development of a whole of Australian Government Indigenous Evaluation Strategy is a positive step forward, and we commend the Commission’s strong focus on policy and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In framing our response, we note the objective of the Indigenous Evaluation Strategy is to:
“Improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by having policy and program decisions informed by high quality and relevant evaluation evidence”.
This response developed by the AES Indigenous Cultural and Diversity Committee (ICDC) makes eight overarching recommendations about the draft Strategy for your consideration.
We recognise the importance of providing a sound foundation on which the Australian Government can measure whether their policies and programs are making a difference to outcomes for Indigenous peoples. We wish to reinforce the importance of the Productivity Commission’s stated intention of engaging with Indigenous communities to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and perspectives in the development of the strategy. It is also imperative that the strategy will embed culturally safe and ethical approaches to all evaluation effort by Australian Government agencies. This submission has been prepared by the AES Cultural Capacity and Diversity Committee, which reports to the AES Board. The Issues Paper raised several important and complex issues about evaluation and appropriate evaluation practice relating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The AES proposes a “fit-for-purpose” APS would include an institutional infrastructure for evaluation. This infrastructure would consolidate the authorising environment for evaluation and sustain the good governance of evidence in decision-making. It would house strong senior leadership for performance and prioritise investment in performance-related skills (for both generalists and specialists). It would develop capability and capacity around culturally safe and appropriate practices - noting with the development of the AES Reconciliation Action Plan, the AES has demonstrated and will continue to build the evaluation capacity of indigenous evaluators and evaluation in the indigenous context. It would be developed through consultative processes and continuously supported by drawing on internal and external resources and expertise.
The AES submission is offered as a formal response from the Board on behalf of AES members. The AES recognises that the current context for the Australian Public Service (APS) is a complex one, bounded by legislation and statutory authorities established by the Parliament, operating in fiscally constrained times and in an environment where it is tasked to responding to numerous and invariably challenging global, technological and public policy developments.
The AES has been supportive of the broader Public Management Reform Agenda (PMRA) and has looked to provide practical assistance to its implementation where possible. The AES submission is offered as a formal response from the Board on behalf of AES members, and looks forward to providing ongoing support to the development and implementation of the Enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework.
The introduction of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and its associated draft Enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework is of great interest to the AES and its membership. The AES and its members have been long aware of the role that evaluation can play in supporting effective policy and program design, implementation and accountability. For the AES membership which includes both internal and external evaluators, the implementation of a new performance framework system for the Australian Government is of both great interest and high impact – for example already the AES is aware of a number of entities responding to the forthcoming performance framework by either investigating or reviewing how evaluation practice can contribute to accountability reporting.
The Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and the Australasian Evaluation Society (AES) hosted the ‘Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act (PGPA) Roundtable’ on 24 and 25 September 2014 at the Crawford School, Australian National University. The purpose of the Roundtable was to provide a forum for experts and interested commentators to discuss the proposed Australian Government Performance Framework that has been developed by the Australian Government Department of Finance and Deregulation.