Quote of the week
“‘Deliverology’ challenged government to be both clear on what it was going to achieve and clear on how it was going to achieve it.”
The antecedents of the U.K. Big Society reforms affecting public sector service delivery go back to the eighties and nineties when governments made efforts to improve the way they served citizens.
Historically, governments have had two roles to play in this area. The first has involved setting constraints, such as budgets, on how services are delivered. The second, sometimes contradictory role, has been to try to improve efficiencies within the constraints frameworks.
Generally, Canadian governments did what the U.K. did: they set up service agreements for departments and attempted to break down their silo mentality by pursuing “joined up” government and a no-wrong-door approach to service delivery.
The Big Society experiment argues that these service improvements simply didn’t go far enough. Service delivery is still confusing to citizens and the so-called breaking up of government silos has not created the savings or efficiencies needed.
The Big Society experiment is asking serious questions about the government’s institutional approach to service delivery, arguing that other sectors and citizens themselves should become accountable for the delivery of certain pubic services.
Related to that, the Big Society challenges the top-down organizational approach to improving the delivery of services of citizens, pursuing a localist dimension that involves moving service delivery closer to the community.
In the February edition of CGE, we and our partners at KPMG will be publishing a special supplement on the U.K. Big Society experiment, where we will examine further the implications it has for the Canadian public sector.