Report 16: 2016–17
Report type

In this audit we examined the economy of government purchasing of advertising, the effectiveness of a selection of advertising campaigns, and the application of governance frameworks.

Public sector entities use advertising and communication activities to convey messages to the public about the rollout of new policies and programs, items of public interest (such as work, health, and safety issues), and other critical community information (such as preparing for storm season).

As advertising has the potential to influence people and impact on public opinion, public sector entities must use their advertising and communication activities appropriately. Government advertising expenditure should be prudent, with entities using taxpayer funds to genuinely provide information to the public rather than to gain political advantage. The government can achieve this by applying robust review and approval processes and guidelines.


We recommend that the Department of the Premier and Cabinet:


diversifies the membership of the Government Advertising and Communication Committee to strengthen its independence. (Chapter 2)


assesses the merits of extending the Government Advertising and Communication Committee's scope for 'noting' other public sector entities' expenditure on advertising to include those public sector entities that are not required to comply with the Queensland Government Advertising Code of Conduct. (Chapter 3).


strengthens its oversight of government advertising and communication activities by

  • developing guidance to assist agencies with planning, developing, implementing, evaluating, and fundung campaign advertising and communciation activities. (Chapter 2)
  • updating policies to reflect the Government Advertising and Communication Committee approval process. (Chapter 2)
  • updating the approval stages to ensure that compliance with the Queensland Government Advertising Code of Conduct is assessed after the final creative materials have been completed. (Chapter 4)
  • analysing and confirming the appropriateness of quality assurance reports for advertising placement activities. (Chapter 3)


enhances public reporting of total expenditure on advertising and communication activities on campaigns by including

  • all public sector entities' expenditure on campaign advertising placement. (Chapter 3)
  • (for the 21 departments) all campaign costs associated with research and evaluation, production of creative materials, advertising placement, and other related items and services, in addition to expenditure on advertising placement. (Chapter 3).

We recommend that departments:


strengthen the evaluation of communication activities by preparing formal reports post campaigns which sumamrise results, cost-effectiveness of advertising mediums and insights into how the results inform future campaigns. (Chapter 4)


ensure that campaign materials submitted to the Government Advertising and Communication Committee have been certified by the relevant authority (Director-General or equivalent) as compliant with the Queensland Government Advertising Code of Conduct, and that evidence of this certification is included in submissions. (Chapter 4).