The Commission recommends establishing a central register of Commonwealth bodies. The existing lack of centrally held information is a major weakness that does not facilitate effective government.
The Commission recognises that there will always be demands on governments to establish new bodies. However, when a new body is being considered, a major misconception is that its creation will lead to greater independence. Often the need for independence may be satisfied without the need to establish an entirely separate body.
Given the significant operating and governance costs of government bodies, the Commission’s view is establishing any new body should require Cabinet agreement.
In seeking this agreement a proposing minister should submit:
- the case for a new body;
- compelling advice on why the function cannot be undertaken within the department or another existing body;
- advice on how the cost of corporate functions will be minimised, including whether they will be provided by the department or a shared service provider;
- advice on how the new body will interface with, but not duplicate, the activities of existing bodies; and
- a proposed termination date.
Recommendation 55: A central register and new guidelines for establishing bodies
There is currently no central register of Commonwealth bodies. Given the significant operating and governance costs of new bodies, the Commission recommends that:
- a central register of Commonwealth Government bodies be established and maintained by the Department of Finance; and
- new guidelines be established on the creation of new bodies recognising the primacy of ministerial responsibility and the role of departments, including requiring Cabinet agreement.