These challenges include having to make the best investment and resource allocation decisions between the competing community needs of today, while also investing in tomorrow’s infrastructure, technology and skills to ensure our continued economic growth and prosperity. Getting the optimal balance is not easy and is made even more challenging by the overlay of party politics, constant media scrutiny and the electoral cycle. In this increasingly volatile environment it is critical to make informed, evidence-based investment decisions and ensure they are properly implemented and robustly evaluated.
Today’s world is increasingly globalised, digitised and personalised. Governments are also no longer the default providers of many public services. Instead, the achievement of policy outcomes and the delivery of public services is increasingly being undertaken by the corporate and non-government sectors as the public sector becomes a funder, regulator and commissioner of services. Citizens are also increasingly being given funding and the ability to choose how and where their services will be provided, and by whom. This shift towards citizen empowerment and choice, combined with government no longer being a direct provider of services is fundamentally transforming the role and nature of the public sector.
These changes have profound implications for the way many government and public sector organisations currently operate as they refocus and reshape their businesses. It requires new capabilities, ways of thinking and ways of working. It also requires a much stronger understanding of customer needs and experience, and a willingness to work more closely with communities, the private sector and not-for-profit sector to co-design, fund and deliver outcomes in very new and different ways as part of an extended eco-system.
Notwithstanding these changes, not every service that governments provide can or should be delivered by others. There are also areas of market failure or immaturity which warrant governments retaining a role in service delivery. Government agencies must therefore also look for ways to deliver their services and functions as efficiently and effectively as possible through economies of scale, ‘joined-up’ service models and technology. This includes greater use of on-line and self-service channels, as well as emerging technologies including robotic process automation and artificial intelligence. They must also continue looking for new ways of delivering greater public value by leveraging the combined intellectual, physical, financial and human capital that exists across the government and beyond.