MEASURING GOVERNMENT SERVICE OUTPUT
For the past several years, the ABS has been developing new estimates of the output of government services. In the past, the Australian national accounts measured such outputs in terms of the inputs used (labour, capital and intermediate goods and services). This procedure does not take account of productivity improvement.
New output measures have already been developed for three major classes of services - health, education and justice (police, courts and prisons). Some of these new measures have been incorporated in the national accounts; others are being evaluated. These three services account for around four-fifths of output for the general government sector. The remaining one-fifth includes such services as defence, revenue collection, social security administration and policy advising.
The most recent project in this program has developed experimental output measures for revenue collection and social security administration. The work has been made possible by the efforts of various government agencies during recent years to enhance the management information on the resources they use and on the services they produce. In particular, there is now an agreed classification scheme for such services and a systematic assembly of statistics regarding service volumes and costs.
The time series of such statistics is still quite short, so, as we have done for some of other industries, we shall monitor the movements in our experimental output series for some years, with a view to eventually incorporating them in the national accounts. Once they are incorporated, we shall have new output measures for around 90% of the general government sector. As yet there are no plans to develop output measures for the remaining services, such as defence or policy advising.
For more information, please contact Shiji Zhao on (02) 6252 6053.
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