Monday, May 09, 2011

Public Service 2.0 - reflections on Terry Moran's latest speech

The Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Terry Moran, gave a speech last week to the Graduate School of Government, University of Sydney. Titled Surfing the next wave of reform, his speech discussed the public service's critical role in supporting and enabling government reform and good governance, and what would be expected of the APS into the future.

Without mentioning Government 2.0, Moran's speech touched on many of its elements. He argued that the public service needed to improve how it engaged with citizens - particularly through the use of new tools enabled by technological improvements in IT and communications,
The bedrock of government engagement with citizens is through the institutions of our representative democracy. At its simplest, citizens vote every three years or so to elect Members of Parliament who choose a government to make laws and decisions.

But that alone is far from the extent of the links between citizens and government. Governments will achieve their goals better if they also use other ways to engage with citizens to complement and reinforce our fundamental democratic institutions.

The remarkable advances in information technology and communications over recent decades have changed and expanded citizens’ expectations, but have also given governments much better tools for engaging with citizens.

We need to do much better at this task.

Moran said that the public service had to improve its use of technology in policy and program delivery to service citizen needs,
Second, in implementing and delivering the decisions of Cabinet, we need to do better at designing policies and programs in ways that take full advantage of modern technology and that are designed with flexibility and creativity, to meet citizens’ needs. The NBN will permit a step forward in this area.

And he said that the APS needed to become better at listening to citizens, particularly through the use of modern technology,
Government needs to empower individuals and communities in ways that allow it and public servants to have effective exchanges with citizens.

Perhaps most telling - and most personally exciting to me - Moran said that,
Our processes should allow the community to provide input throughout the policy and service delivery process. Information technology can play a crucial role facilitating communication between citizens and governments.

I understand this as Moran saying that to meet the challenges in the APS's future, the Australian Public Service needs to use appropriate tools and techniques to collaborate with the community throughout the policy and service delivery process, not just consult them at the beginning and deliver to them at the end.

Moran finished with the statement that,
To be successful, the reform agenda will need to embrace the best, frank and honest strategic advice, and it will have been based on the fullest engagement with citizens. I am confident we can meet the challenge.

The proposal put forward by Moran is a vision of a Public Service 2.0, one trained and equipped to embed a citizen-focus into their work, to be strategic (as well as frank and fearless) in their advice to government, to design policies and services that take full advantage of the technology at our disposal, making appropriate use of Government 2.0 tools and techniques to achieve the goals of the duly-elected government.

I believe it is a vision that will serve Australia well.

1 comment:

  1. Craig, you say that he didn't mention "government 2.0" specifically. I wonder why not ... it's the official policy, is it not?

    Secondly, all your quotes are about public services to citizens, not about the necessary change within government to make a government 2.0 possible. Did he mention anything about that?