Quote of the week
“…what works today is a more disciplined, systematic approach to solving public-sector management problems.”
A recent report notes that governments need to “favour the rational over the purely ideological” if they are going to solve the so-called “wicked” problems they face.
This is news? What’s kind of scary is that citizens could not be blamed for assuming that decisions by politicians and the public service have always been made based on solid information and analysis.
Of course, politicians have many other factors to consider, including citizen readiness and program cost, but it is refreshing to hear someone openly say that ideology is not a good enough reason to do anything.
A recent article in the Globe and Mail provides an encouraging example of a government that used hard information when making decisions. Michael Bloomberg, when mayor of New York City, is quoted as saying, “In God we trust. All others bring data.”
Bloomberg even created an Office of Policy and Strategic Planning whose mandate was to “use public data to improve services.” Wow.
It is one of the fascinations of current political life that while open data and analytics are being promoted by governments, they themselves too often seem reluctant to use them effectively to inform their decision-making or to assess their success.
The new political reality of consumer politics means that policy decisions are often made with the goal of satisfying a voting segment that has an ideological view. Data, in those cases, support decisions already made.
Regarding the use of data to assess success, too often public reports on programs are vague and unhelpful. This satisfies entrenched bureaucracies and sitting politicians, neither of which want to face public criticism.
Citizens need to know that decisions are being made that make sense; using data and analysis, rather than ideology, is a good start.