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ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Essentials of cost-benefit analysis

Two-day short course


20th April 2015
21st April 2015


ANU Crawford School of Public Policy


Leo Dobes



This course at The Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy 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 diplomat, 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 from 1990-91. He is a stalwart of the Economics Society of Australia and is a past President of its ACT division. Leo is now one of Australia’s leading economists in the area of adaptation to climate change. He serves as an occasional advisor to the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) and international agencies such as the World Bank. He also lectures in the Masters of International and Development Economics (IDEC) program at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy and is a contributor to executive courses delivered by the Australia-New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).

Course dates: 
9.30am–4.30pm 20 April 2015
9.30am–4.30pm 21 April 2015
Venue: #132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU
Cost: A$2,200 GST incl; Group discounts applicable

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