Government spending has had some rough press this week. In the UK was the news that in the first 2 months of the year £1m has been spent on ‘taxpayer-funded credit cards’ with several councils and MPs being picked out for special attention. Whereas in Australia there were allegations of fraudulent spending on government cards by a backbencher. The common theme seems to be that public sector spending on credit cards is frivolous, wasteful and mostly for personal entertainment and jollies.
It goes without saying that governments around the world are under pressure to control spending. Most are trying to cut huge deficits that are a legacy of the financial crisis. In some cases public sector policy is to also devolve decision making to the front line. But how can they achieve savings when the decisions are further removed from the central point that demands the control over costs? How can governments ensure every agency has full transparency over expenses incurred by public servants?