The major reform in the 1990s was to insert the post-budget review I talked about. Up to the 1990s, Parliament exclusively confined itself to approving the estimates and then effectively paid no attention to the way in which those estimates were used. It had no processes for reviewing the outcomes of the expenditures it had approved.
That seemed to me, and to a number of other people at the time, to be a major omission in our system. Although the estimates approval process did not dramatically change in the 1990s, the post-budget examination system has been considerably improved by requiring better financial information to be presented to Parliament shortly after the end of the financial year, and that all of that information and the reports from the departments are referred to the individual subject select committees for consideration.
Those committees then draw up lists of questions of other issues that arise from the information and put them to the departments. Then, on a proportional basis, they call the chief executive, the deputy minister, and the senior officials from that department before the committee to answer, in examinations like this, for the way in which they have used those resources and their efficiency or otherwise in terms of the actions they've taken during the previous financial year. There is a comprehensive post-budget scrutiny of departmental performance.