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Report No. 42

The Contracting Out of Government Services, 1998

Summary of the report

The report was transmitted to the Government on 25 August 1998, and was tabled in the Parliament on 2 November 1998.

When government provides a service directly to the public, a recipient of that service who is dissatisfied with some aspect of its delivery may have one or more administrative law remedies available. Those remedies may include: the right to information under the freedom of information legislation; the right to complain to the Ombudsman; or, the right to have a decision reviewed by the Federal Court or a tribunal.

When that service is contracted out to the private sector, access to administrative law remedies by service recipients may be lost in the process.

This report considered how existing systems of governmental, financial and parliamentary accountability could be modified to take account of the increasing use of private contractors to perform activities and provide services on behalf of government.

The report contains recommendations relating to: the preparation of appropriate contracts; and, the application of both private and administrative law in situations where services are provided by private contractors.

Response to the report

The Council understands that an inter-departmental committee has been given responsibility for preparing advice on a possible response to the recommendations contained in the report. The committee includes representatives of Ministers with policy responsibility in the area of contracting out, and departments and agencies with experience in the area.