National treasure

The Treasury is a uniquely powerful government department. In holding the state’s purse strings, it determines the fate of governments. The task of eliminating the structural deficit and the success of the Coalition Government rests on an effective Treasury. But what is not clear is whether the Treasury in its current form can rise to meet the challenge.

National Treasure explores the recent history of the Treasury and asks whether it is fit for the challenge the Government has set. It draws on the experiences of former and current civil servants, advisers and ministers, few of whom question the need for reform.

That reform is laid out four ways: organisation and scope; tax; spending; and accountability. In each of these, the authors recommend that the Treasury clarify its remit, cultivate expertise in its workforce and make its policy recommendations more transparent. These changes would strengthen the Treasury while making it subject to greater scrutiny and improving the quality of its decision-making at this critical juncture.