Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Comments from the IPAA NSW 2011 State Conference - Session 3

Fresh from my session (which was tweeted and filmed - will be up in a few days and Ross Dawson published a great article on James Kleimt's talk "The fabulous case study of Queensland Police on Facebook" and James Dellow has published his slides), I'm in the third session for the IPAA conference, in the room discussing collaboration.

Jo Lawrence from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services is talking about the topic from the perspective of how to build collaboration and co-creation with citizens for service delivery.

Her agency has developed an administrative structure for collaboration to support their reform process.

This has included the introduction of Regional Executive Directors to lead reform in regions, and the implementation of Regional Executive Forums chaired by the Directors to support engagement and conversation.

The agency has also developed a Knowledge and Learning network using social media tools to allow staff to come together, share information on particular practices, facilitate knowledge sharing and promote interactive debate across the Department.

Part of the approach is to reverse the approach used by the agency to be person-focused, rather than the traditional process-focused approach - focusing on individual needs and differences rather than forcing people into a narrow set of boxes.

Some of the challenges the agency is facing is aligning the 'walk with the talk' within bureaucracy, shifting entrenched values and practices and addressing the expectations of clients.

Jo says that if you reframe a cross-agency problem into a pitch - the benefits to specific agencies - it becomes easier to get them to engage and participate, even 'own' the problem.

She says that the traditional approach of having a central agency coordinate the involvement of other agencies to address client problems is evolving into a more decentralised approach where any agency might take the lead.

She says this can be very hard to achieve, but is well worth the journey.

Next up is Paul Ronalds from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Paul is talking about 'wicked problems' - those that involve enormous complexity and require significant involvement by a range of players to address effectively.

He says that non-government organisations are becoming very significant players in resolving these problems and have by some quarters been called 'the new superpower' (though he doesn't feel they are at that level).

Paul says there are cultural barriers in government around engaging community organisations and corporations to participate in public policy issues - including deep seated beliefs that they have limited skills in this area.

He also says there can be limited (NGO and corporate) stakeholder engagement skills in government, as well as political barriers and the challenges of a top-down hierarchy that can make it more difficult for government agencies to participate in genuine collaboration.

Now up is Monica Barone, Chief Executive Officer of the City of Sydney, talking about the challenges of achieving collaboration and policy alignment across city, state and federal levels.

She says that the challenges of urbanisation are best addressed by urban policy developed collaboratively by all levels of government.

She says that some solutions must be delivered 'in place' and requires a public sector that works collaboratively - local government holds much of the data needed to facilitate services delivered by other levels.

Monica is talking about the Sustainable Sydney 2030 ongoing consultation and ways they've built on this, such as the Matching grants program.

Monica is going through the policy areas which could benefit from policy alignment by all levels of government in Australia - including bike use, housing targets and greenhouse gas reduction plans. She is demonstrating the waterfall charts used to plan the progressive targets and goals in Sydney and discussing how to broaden the policy approach based on collaboration by all levels of government.

She is showing a fantastic 3D graphical model of the energy use across the City of Sydney, based on floor space and (confidential) electricity use. It clearly demonstrates the high and low areas of use in a geospatial sense, evidence very useful in policy formation.

We're now onto the Q&A session - then I'm back to the airport for the flight home.

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