Traditionally infrastructure projects have been valued and assessed using methods which often do not best leverage all benefits and opportunities, or fully evaluate all costs. In addition, it has been quite common for infrastructure project proposals to be poorly communicated to the wider community, eroding social and political license and capital.
In this context, and as government policy attempts to meet the challenges of population growth, climate and demographic change, constrained budgets and funding challenges, the role of broader cost-benefit analysis and business case assessment is increasingly coming under scrutiny.
ASBEC held a series of roundtable discussions in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth from 2016-2017, with over 50 key decision makers from across government departments, agencies and industry. Participants were asked to share their views on the challenges associated with developing business cases for infrastructure projects across Australia. These discussions facilitated a range of views on the opportunities for government to support policy reform that would deliver better business cases, and ultimately better infrastructure and improved outcomes for the tax payer.
The findings from these discussions, presented in this paper, provide a rare insight across all levels of government across Australia as to what practical interventions can be delivered today and in the longer-term to achieve a better bang for our buck from our infrastructure spend.
Bang for Buck outlines a powerful case for reform across four broad areas of focus:
1. Leading with bipartisan vision across all levels of government
2. Improving infrastructure decision making
3. Understanding the method (and the madness) of business case development
4. Engaging the public in the benefits of their infrastructure investment