The future public service: Open and fast moving
The U.K. has released its Civil Service Reform Plan, and anyone interested in public sector reform should give it a read. The government’s vision for the organization, as stated by Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the Civil Service, is for an organization that is “more open and flexible,” more focused, does less and does it better. It will be “open and fast moving,” working differently, with an emphasis on collaboration and working with “other organizations and businesses that foster innovation and trust, internationally, nationally and locally.”
The report notes that the size of the future civil service will depend on the needs of the government. There is a commitment not to do another cull based on arbitrary targets, but a warning that new ways of doing business could lead by 2015 to a workforce that is 23 percent smaller than it was in 2010.
The ways proposed for improving service delivery and policy are not new to those have been following discussions in Canada and elsewhere about the future of the public service. On the first front, new delivery models, shared services and increased use of technology are on the agenda. On the second, “open policymaking will become the default” based on the premise that “Whitehall does not have a monopoly on policymaking expertise.” There is much more, including steps to change the culture of the civil service (less cautious and more focused on outcomes) and improve performance.
Finally, in a way that can only be described as clear and business-like, the government outlines the specific actions on each front that will be taken. You can read the report at http://resources.civilservice.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Civil-Service-Reform-Plan-acc-final.pdf
Mixed media: The generational communications conundrum
It’s no secret that the government workforce is changing in both the U.S. and Canada. One reason is diversity; the other is the multi-generational workforce. A U.S. report, Engaging a Multi-Generational Workforce: Practical Advice for Government Managers, indicates that government managers face three specific issues related to leading the latter. First, there are four different generations with four different sets of expectations. Second, most workers are in fact unhappy in their jobs to begin with. And third, the advent of new technologies is being accepted unevenly in the office workplace.
A reform blueprint
How can a government become more efficient while maintaining its obligations? The Drummond Report, more formally known as the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, was set up by the McGuinty government in Ontario to examine how the province might respond to the challenges of deficit reduction while maintaining service to its citizens. Remember that much of its workforce includes front line workers such as teachers and healthcare workers.
The report made over 300 recommendations, and Drummond used it to essentially issue a challenge: find out what your core business is, calculate the most efficient way to do it, and then implement the required changes in a reasoned and planned way. The report became the blueprint for the April 2012 Ontario budget and has application to all jurisdictions.