Professor David Heald

Current Research Projects

  • David Heald has a longstanding research interest in public expenditure policy and mechanisms, going back to his 1983 book Public Expenditure: Its Defence and Reform (Oxford, Blackwell). He has published many articles on public expenditure planning, government accounting, Private Finance Initiative (Public-Private Partnerships is the international terminology) and fiscal transparency. Current research focuses on substantive policy choices (deriving from his 2011-12 Royal Society of Edinburgh project on public expenditure quality and from his 2012-15 Leverhulme project on public audit). Two book chapters from this research were published in 2013, one on public expenditure priorities and one on strengthening fiscal transparency internationally. A series of articles on public audit is planned. Together with Christopher Hood (Oxford) and Rozana Himaz (Oxford Brookes), David Heald was the co-organiser of a British Academy conference on 'fiscal squeeze', held on 9-10 July 2013 at the British Academy. The edited book, consisting of three analytical chapters and nine historical country case studies by national experts, was published in October 2014 as When the Party's Over: The Politics of Fiscal Squeeze in Perspective (Proceedings of the British Academy 197, Oxford University Press
  • Together with Ron Hodges (Birmingham Business School), David Heald is continuing to work on public sector accounting reform. They have published an analysis of the EPSAS project, European Public Sector Accounting Standards being an ambitious EU-wide harmonisation project led by Eurostat on behalf of the European Commission. They are also working on government guarantees, which they interpret as an alternative off-balance sheet mechanism to Public-Private Partnerships, on which both have written separately.
  • Together with David Steel (Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen Business School), David Heald is researching the functioning of public sector Boards, writing up the results of a British Academy small grant both for academic publication and for knowledge transfer to those charged with the governance and management of UK public bodies. The first of two planned papers has been published, this being on the relationship of Chairs and Chief Executives. The second paper will be on the role of public sector Boards, particularly the role of Non-Executive Directors.
  • David Heald has a longstanding interested in financing UK devolution, having proposed in 1976 what later became the 'tartan tax', and having in 1980 named the 'Barnett formula', which determines a substantial part of the annual changes in expenditure of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. He has written extensively on these topics, including his 1994 exposition and 2005 numerical analysis of the Barnett formula, and 2002 proposals for its modification in the light of post-devolution experience. If more attention had been paid to these issues in the 2000s, the future of the United Kingdom would not presently seem so fragile. He has submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the misalignment of UK and Scottish budgetary timetables (2016) and on the new Scottish fiscal framework (2016).
  • Jointly with Tom Mullen (School of Law, Glasgow University) and Gordon Marnoch (Public Policy, Ulster University), David Heald is organising a series of knowledge exchange seminars on the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union. The first was held at the University of Glasgow on 25 April 2017, a link to the programme and videos being available here. The second was held in Belfast on 21 June 2017; the third will be held in Dublin on 4 October 2017; and the fourth will be held in Cardiff in early November. Iain Wright (Glasgow) has been recruited as part-time Research Fellow on this project.

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