The Cost of Commissioning: Report

  • 26 February 2016

The Research Report on the Proposed Reforms to Western Australian Prisons Sector by Associate Professor Jane Andrew, Dr Max Baker and Dr Phillip Roberts from the University of Sydney is now available.  This research report emerges from a larger research project, entitled ‘The Costs, Performance, Efficiency and Accountability of Australian Private Prisons’ which examines the effects of prison privatization in different states within Australia, and evaluates the types of arguments made for and against further privatization of the prison system and arises following the recommendations made in the ERA Draft Report of July 9th, 2015 for the Western Australian government which point to an alarming new trend in the management of public prisons called commissioning.  In our view, the ERA recommendation of commissioning as a model of service provision in Western Australian prisons is not logically continuous with the rest of the Draft Report.  The earlier chapters of the ERA report establish a clear need for greater information gathering, well defined key performance indicators, and increased accountability through Service Level Agreements. However, it is not clear that commissioning will address any of these issues.  Furthermore, given the current state of knowledge concerning the prison system, it is difficult to establish what positive outcomes would derive from the considerable and expensive restructuring needed to introduce commissioning.