The Roles of Independent Legislative Fiscal Institutions: a Multidisciplinary Analysis

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Copyright: Chohan, Usman
This thesis approaches the question of the roles that can be fulfilled by Independent Legislative Fiscal Institutions, and it does so in a multidisciplinary manner, through six independent but logically-connected research papers. Independent Legislative Fiscal Institutions (IFIs) represent an institution of ever greater practitioner and academic interest, but a fuller understanding of their roles, and therefore their purpose, is left wanting due to the dispersion of analysis surrounding them across three separate literatures: economics, political science, and governance. Each literature approaches the question of the roles of IFIs in a tangential manner as part of some broader inquiry, and they provide rationales for these fiscal institutions steeped in arguments specific to these literatures. However, there is still a need to validate those literature-specific arguments through further evidence; and the claim that drives this thesis is that, only through a fuller and multidisciplinary synthesis of these literatures, along with the incorporation of a new literature (public administration), can progress be made in contextualizing the roles of IFIs in a comprehensive manner. The need for such an inquiry arises because, given that there is scant explicit consideration of the roles of IFIs, the ambiguities in their roles can and does incite severe budgetary conflicts. As such, the thesis develops multiple case studies to typologize the suggested roles, including: the United States, Canada, Australia, Fiji, and Iraq. In particular, the thesis identifies two types of roles for IFIs, as either (1) mechanistic-costing or (2) normative-advisory, and musters public value theory (from the public administration literature) to do so. Using the same public value lens, the thesis then proceeds to outline the limitations of its typologized roles, by indicating where the ingredients for both roles may be possible and yet where IFIs can still fall short of fulfilling them. Beyond that, the thesis aims to develop an understanding of special, context-specific roles for IFIs that can emerge in unique budgeting contexts, including as a ‘coordination mechanism’ within the broader accountability architecture (using Fiji), and as a vehicle for jumpstarting accountability in the budget process where fiscal architecture has been destroyed (using Iraq). The thesis thereby makes a series of multidisciplinary research contributions by (1) identifying the three relevant literatures that tangentially explore the roles of IFIs in terms of their localized (single-discipline) logic, (2) synthesizing their findings to provide an overarching context for the study of possible institutional roles, (3) introducing a new literature (public administration) that fills an important gap in understanding these institutions, (4) advancing two debates within public administration using IFIs (‘public value theory’ and the ‘politics-administration dichotomy’), (5) typologizing two roles for IFIs, and then delineating their limitations, (6) analysing two other unique roles that these institutions can fulfil in specific contexts (‘coordination mechanism and ‘ab initio fiscal body’), (7) highlighting practitioner interests in designing and successfully operating IFIs, and (8) identifying future areas of research that can build upon the multidisciplinary approach that this thesis develops.
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Chohan, Usman
Jacobs, Kerry
Chand, Satish
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty
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