Policymaking in the Public Interest

The Susan McKinnon Foundation has a vision for the public sector to deliver better outcomes for citizens and better value for government spending by strengthening policymaking processes, ensuring public policy is developed and implemented in the public interest. Government policymaking processes must be transparent and out-ward focused, informed by data, evidence and stakeholder views, with a focus on delivery pathways, outcome monitoring and continuous improvement from the start.

The Foundation largely funded the research program for the Evidence Based Policy Research Project (EBPRP), an independent not-for-profit that advocated for evidence-based public policymaking. EBPRP produced 100 case studies on the quality of public policymaking in Australia at both federal and state levels.

It also achieved a significant breakthrough in NSW when its Legislative Council adopted a standing order for all government bills to answer a Statement of Public Interest questionnaire on a bill’s need, objective, options considered and their relative costs and benefits, stakeholders consulted and implementation plan. Having completed its mission, the EBPRP ceased to operate as a separate incorporated voluntary association in NSW in January 2023.

The Susan McKinnon Foundation is building on the successes of Prof Percy Allan AM and the EBPRP team by:

  • seeking to optimise the use of the Statement of Public Interest in NSW by resourcing the public service to develop high-quality Statements that i) make policymaking processes transparent and ii) support informed debate and decision-making in the Legislative Council;
  • advocating for comparable processes and tools to be adopted (or optimised) in other jurisdictions once the SPI has demonstrated benefits and impact in NSW;
  • identifying and codifying contemporary indicators of robust policymaking processes and system-level enablers of robust policymaking, and building consensus and buy-in for these in multiple jurisdictions;
  • using the indicators and enablers as research tools to assess the quality of public policy processes being undertaken for major pieces of legislative and non-legislative policy in Australia, with a view to identifying exemplars to learn from, and finding opportunities for improvement;
  • having a strong focus on positive engagement with policymakers, and effective knowledge translation to motivate and drive change for the ultimate purpose of better public policy in Australia.