Quote of the week

“The vast majority of public services are monopolies which means that their clients are captive and, as such, often taken for granted.”

– Institute of Public Administration of Australia Policy Discussion Paper

Editor’s Corner

It’s no secret that service delivery is a concern of governments: the U.K. Big Society reforms focus on changing how the government delivers services, as do the proposals of Don Drummond’s report to the Ontario government.

Both cases reflect the call for increased use of the non-governmental partners to take over the burden of – and in some cases the accountability for – delivering services to citizens.

A paper from the Institute of Public Administration of Australia (IPAA) outlines an approach for the development of service strategies based on a simple question: “what services should be delivered, why and how?”

Such strategies would ensure appropriate outcomes based on meeting client expectations, ensuring relevant service priorities, and improving service capability. 

The sweet spot where they intersect is a workable approach based on the identification of the client segment and service niche.

Governments can develop models and assess the service strategy from multiple perspectives, including as a provider as well as a funder of these services.

There is little doubt that the famous “no wrong door” approach of 20 years ago, in which governments committed to offering services through multiple channels, is being rethought. The reasons include cost, the belief that technology (including social media) are setting the stage for needed reforms, and a view that governments should engage other sectors in getting the job done more efficiently.

Whatever the drivers, the call for well thought out service strategies make sense, so that governments respond to the new pressures sensibly by building on the lessons of the last 20 years.