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ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Essentials of cost-benefit analysis

Two-day short course


24th October 2016
25th October 2016


ANU Crawford School of Public Policy



This course will develop your skills to confidently undertake a basic cost benefit analysis of a project or policy, capably review reports prepared by consultants, and prepare regulatory impact statements.

Course overview

Cost-Benefit Analysis is effectively an investment analysis conducted from the perspective of society as a whole. A key feature of the first day of the course is therefore an introduction to investment analysis using practical exercises such as the purchase of a house. Costs and revenues (benefits) are adjusted for inflation, for the time value of money (using discounting), for different project periods (using equivalent annual values), and for risk (using expected values, decision trees, and Monte Carlo analysis). Participants will conduct simple calculations in shared learning exercises, and should bring a simple hand-held electronic calculator.

Drawing on these basic techniques, the second day of the course explores different methods of estimating benefits, including in seemingly unquantifiable areas such as the environment. Uncertainty about the future is addressed through the ‘real options’ approach which is increasingly used by commercial entities and is particularly relevant to areas such as adaptation to climate change. The course concludes with comparisons of cost-benefit analysis with cost-effectiveness analysis and multi-criteria analysis.

A combination of essential concepts, case studies and practical exercises is used, without the use of mathematics. The course is suitable both for beginners and as a refresher for those with an economics background.

Course convenor

Associate Professor Leo Dobes

Associate Professor Leo Dobes from the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy completed a BA with Honours and an MA in Economics at the University of Melbourne, before undertaking a DPhil at Oxford University focusing on Eastern European economics. Leo is a veteran of the Commonwealth Public Service, having worked for almost 30 years in various senior public service roles. These have included working as a member of the Australian diplomatic corps, as an ONA intelligence analyst and in policy roles in the Commonwealth departments of Defence, Transport and the Australian Treasury.

Leo was instrumental in establishing an Environment Branch within the Australian Bureau of Transport Economics in 1992, and published a series of important reports on the costs and benefits of mitigating emissions in the transport sector. Leo also played a key role in developing and implementing reforms in the Australian telecommunications sector in 1989-91. He is a stalwart of the Economics Society of Australia and is a past President of its ACT branch.

Leo is one of Australia’s leading economists in the area of adaptation to climate change. He has been an occasional adviser to the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE), various Treasury departments, and international agencies such as the World Bank. He teaches a Masters course in Cost-Benefit Analysis (IDEC8088) at the Crawford School, and has recently published a book on Social Cost-Benefit Analysis in Australia and New Zealand.

Course dates:
9.30am–4.30pm 24 October 2016
9.30am–4.30pm 25 October 2016
Venue: Crawford School, ANU
Enrol: T 02 6125 2154 E
Cost: $2,200 GST incl; Group discounts applicable

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