Public works need public sector skills – the lost lessons of the BER program | OCCASIONAL PAPER


Despite significant public attention over the last two years, the lessons of the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program remain poorly understood. While there were major differences between BER outcomes in different states, most media coverage failed to focus on the reasons why some states performed so much better than others.

Evidence from the BER program leads to two major conclusions:
•    Successful governments didn’t try to be too small: The state governments that were able to manage the risks of the program internally – instead of paying the private sector to take primary responsibility for program management – performed better; and
•    Participation matters: Close consultation with the final users of the infrastructure, the school principals and school community was another key to good performance.

In this paper CPD fellow Tim Roxburgh looks at moves in Australia and internationally to rebuild the skills needed for the public sector to deliver successful public infrastructure projects. He warns that hard-learned lessons on the dangers of insufficient in-house capacity may now fall victim to sweeping cuts aimed at reducing the overall size of the of the public sector wage bill.

Download Public works need public sector skills (PDF)

Read Tim Roxburgh’s article in the Canberra Times: Public service cuts may cost more than they save