The initiative for the establishment of the Centre, which was previously named the Public Sector Governance and Accountability Research Centre (PSGARC), stems directly from a resolution of the 2003 Biennial Conference of the Australasian Council of Public Accounts Committees (ACPAC) in Melbourne.
This meeting, which included representatives of Parliamentary Public Accounts Committees from Britain, Ireland, Canada and Africa as well as Australasia and the Pacific along with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the World Bank Institute (WBI), resolved to support the development of a global network of Public Accounts or like Committees to share knowledge, improve cooperation, develop common standards for accountability and governance and to provide training and support for members of Public Accounts Committees and their staffs.
Academic-based research centres
Further to this resolution ACPAC appointed a Working Party, led by Peter Loney who was then ACPAC Chair, to investigate the feasibility of creating independent, academic based research centres focused on public accountability and governance particularly focussing on the role of the legislature. Consequently the Working Party approached the then Dean of the former Faculty of Business, Economics and Law (now the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce) of La Trobe University, Professor Greg O'Brien, to determine whether the university would be interested in establishing the first such 'Centre of Excellence'.
The Council of La Trobe University resolved to establish the Public Sector Governance and Accountability Research Centre (PSGARC) within the former Faculty of Business, Economics and Law (now the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce), on 7 June, 2004. The Centre was formally launched at a 'signing' ceremony at Parliament House, Melbourne, on 29 June 2004.
The initial management of the Centre comprised:
- Director: Professor Kerry Jacobs , Department of Accounting and Management, School of Business
- Deputy Director: Dr Ewen Michael, School of Tourism and Hospitality (now the School of Business)
- Executive Officer: Dr Bill Stent , Department of Economics and Finance, School of Business
Adjunct Professor Peter Loney became the Executive Director of PSGARC in November 2006 until his resignation from this position in November 2010.
Training and support through AusAID
At the beginning of 2010 the Centre entered into a three-year funding agreement with AusAID to provide training and support top parliamentarians and parliamentary staff in holding the executive to account. 2010 was the first year of this agreement.
The Centre conducted the 5th Summer Residency Program for Public Accounts Committees from February 7 to 13, 2010. It was attended by 40 participants from Bangladesh, Kiribati, Limpopo (South Africa), Pakistan, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga and Vanuatu. Participants included senior members of Public Accounts Committees, Auditors-General and staff of Audit Offices and parliamentary staff. Organisations that supported the program included the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, World Bank Institute, Centre for Democratic Institutions, the Victorian Parliament and US Aid (Pakistan). These organisations provided international travel and other costs to allow participating delegations to attend. Presenters used in the program were both local and international. The Program was conducted in two parts, the first being a day in Melbourne working at the Victorian Parliament and the second consisted of four and a half days at La Trobe's former Beechworth Campus.
Restructuring of PSGARC: From PSGARC to CPSGAP
In accord with the AusAID agreement Peter Loney, under contract to LTU, conducted a follow-up of the Beechworth program in Dhaka, Bangladesh between 17 and 21 December 2010.
The Centre was reviewed by a Review Panel of La Trobe University. The Panel submitted its report on 30 September 2010. The Panel's report indicated that the Centre's emphasis needed to be modified, and that a greater emphasis should be given to research and knowledge transfer.
Peter Loney resigned as Director of the Centre, effective 29 October 2010. Following the resignation of Peter Loney, arrangements were made to terminate the AusAID contract with LTU as from 31 December 2010. The 6th Summer Residency Program was conducted at Beechworth under the aegis of the Alfred Deakin Research Institute.
Following the restructuring recommended by the review, PSGARC was renamed CPSGAP and Professor Zahirul Hoque was appointed as its new director in March 2011.