Background: Coordination has been recognised as a critical ingredient for successful drug policy governance. Yet what coordination means and how we assess the processes, outputs and outcomes of drug policy coordination is seldom defined. In this article we explore the utility of internationally recognised principles of good governance for examining aspects of drug policy coordination. We describe the development of an assessment tool, and pilot it in one context that has been both praised and criticised for its approach to drug policy coordination: Australia. Methods: Eight good governance principles of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (which specify the need for policy processes to be participatory, responsive, equitable etc.), were adapted to drug policy coordination. A pilot survey was created to enable assessment of their perceived importance and perceived application and administered to 36 stakeholders from peak Australian advisory bodies. Results: The instrument was shown to have high internal reliability and high face validity. Application to the Australian context suggested that the eight principles differed in importance, and that the most important principles were 'accountability' and 'participation'. Application also revealed perceived strengths and weaknesses in coordination, most notably, an apparent need to increase 'accountability' for stakeholder actions. Conclusion: The instrument requires further assessment of reliability and validity. Yet, at least within the Australian context, it starts to unpack normative statements about coordination to show perceptions of what coordination is, areas where improvement may be warranted and the degree of contestation amongst different players. Further application of the good governance lens within this and other contexts will progress the assessment of a fundamental yet neglected policy process and foster a more nuanced consideration of the possibilities for coordination in the drug policy "soup".
- Drug policy