‘It is one of those moments that changes things for ever. When people can’t see where their money goes, they can make no comment, they can have no influence. Governments live and die by public approval; and once you can link spending decisions to identifiable civil servants, their careers will also live or die by our approval; so this kind of openness to scrutiny is utterly revolutionary. And it’s virtually irreversible: no politician would dare to draw the curtains again.’
Whether people use this power is another matter; but they have the option. Crucially, the reform shows that the government is governing. Most reforms yield results years after the legislation was passed. For instance, Peter Lilley's 1995 pension reforms finally paid dividends this year. Publishing COINS is an instant reform that builds momentum, the oxygen of reforming governments.