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Working together: Evidence on collaboration from the reports of independent watchdogs

20 July 2015




Collaboration by government agencies is identified in public administration literature and guidance material as an essential strategy to successfully achieve outcomes in many areas where multiple parties and complex issues are involved. There may be references to working together, and collaboration may relate to service delivery or related areas of government activity.

While much has been written about collaboration, reports by independent watchdogs as a body of work provide an important yet previously untapped source of independent evidence and analysis regarding collaboration and governance practices. The research reported here draws on analysis of 112 reports of Auditors General and Ombudsmen, including detailed examination of nine of these reports, to provide a broader and deeper understanding of issues identified by these watchdogs. It has identified and assessed watchdog reports that involve working together, and in providing numerous quotes from these reports is a rich source of commentary and analysis on collaboration. The reports arise from investigations that are scoped in the context of the specific legislation that applies to each watchdog. In general they address issues of effectiveness, efficiency, compliance and administrative fairness of programs and services, but exclude a direct consideration of the merits of the legislation and policies that underpin these programs and services.

An output from the ANZSOG-funded project Public sector collaboration and governance: Evidence from accountability agencies.

Suggested citation

Wilkins, P., Phillimore, J. and Gilchrist, D. (2015) Working together: Evidence on collaboration from the reports of independent watchdogs. Melbourne: ANZSOG.

Authors: Peter Wilkins, John Phillimore, and David Gilchrist
Published Date: 20 July 2015

Case study

Download the case study: wilkins_et-al-working-together-report (PDF 503 KB)