Most of my research time is committed to: public audit; fiscal transparency (my original UK focus has internationalised); public sector corporate governance; devolved public finance (devolved government came to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1999 and Scotland voted No in an Independence referendum on 18 September 2014); and government accounting reform (particularly proposed European harmonisation, and accounting for Public-Private Partnerships and government guarantees). Thanks to externally funded research leave (Royal Society of Edinburgh/Scottish Government Support Research Fellowship, 2010-11, and Leverhulme Trust, 2012-15), I had time to engage on major writing projects on public expenditure and public audit.
Although the main focus of my work is on the United Kingdom, I am greatly interested in comparative developments across the world, both with regard to government accounting and fiscal
decentralisation. The explicit links stressed by HM Treasury between public expenditure
planning and fiscal policy stimulated me to examine the substance and
rhetoric of fiscal transparency. On the more general relevance of transparency to public policy, I published in 2006 an edited book Transparency: The Key to Better
Governance? with Christopher Hood (Gladstone Emeritus Professor of Government, All Souls College, Oxford).
I have written a comprehensive account of the politics of Scotland’s public finances for The Oxford Handbook of Scottish Politics, to be published in 2020, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the devolution settlement.
COVID-19 is not only a public health crisis but also a fiscal crisis. I have submitted written evidence on the effects on Scotland’s fiscal framework to the Finance and Constitution Committee of the Scottish Parliament. With Ron Hodges (Birmingham), I am currently researching the accounting and budgeting implications of the massive UK fiscal response to the COVID-19 crisis.