Learning from Failure: why large government policy initiatives have gone so badly wrong in the past and how the chances of success in the future can be improved

Last updated: 05 Feb 2016

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In December 2013 the Government established the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program led by Mr Ian Hanger AM QC, which reported to the Government in September 2014.

The Government asked Professor Peter Shergold AC to lead an independent review of Government processes for the development and implementation of large public programmes and projects.

Professor Shergold's report, Learning from Failure: Why large government policy initiatives have gone so badly wrong in the past and how the chances of success in the future can be improved, was presented to Government in August 2015.


Letter of Transmittal

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment
Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister

In accordance with the Terms of Reference issued to me on 24 December 2014, I have undertaken an independent review of government processes for implementing large programs and projects, including the roles of ministers and public servants.

As requested, the review has taken account of the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program, the report of the Independent Audit of the NBN Public Policy Processes (the Scales Review), and best practices in Australia and internationally.

I have pleasure in presenting you with my report, Learning from Failure: Why large government policy initiatives have gone so badly wrong in the past and how the chances of success in the future can be improved.

I very much appreciate the opportunity you have given me to consider such important issues. You will note that whilst I have come to conclusions as to how to improve the management of major projects I have not made recommendations to the Government. My strong preference is that the review be made widely available for public comment and discussion. I hope, in particular, that the views of the Australian Public Service on its proposals will help to inform the Government's response.

In preparing this report I was assisted by a secretariat drawn from a number of Australian Government agencies. I record my appreciation for their insights, commitment and enthusiasm. I also express my thanks for those who met with me and the secretariat over the course of the review, and I am particularly grateful to the peer reviewers who commented on an earlier draft of this report.

Yours sincerely

Professor Peter Shergold AC
12 August 2015