Major Trends in Public Service Reform

The future of public services in many countries looks bleak due to reasons like shrinking revenues, economic downturn and terrorism. Government of these countries are also under extra pressure because they have to fulfil the rising expectations of the masses despite of facing all these problems. So, what are the steps governments need to take to provide quality and sustainable public service to their people?

Pressure for Reforms:
There are a number of exciting changes occurring in delivery of public service across the globe in response to a huge pressure for reforms. In this regard, following are some important factors governments have to consider while delivering public services.

  • Citizens’ Expectation:
    Citizens’ expectations have increased dramatically over the years. Now, they demand 24 hours access to public services and governments have to provide them at all cost. The rise of private sector offering similar services and internet has also made things rather difficult for public departments.
  • Budget Deficit:
    There is significant number of countries that are struggling with economic uncertainty and budget deficit making it difficult for them to live up to the expectations of the masses in terms of public service.
  • Leaders Want Results:
    Regardless of the economic situation of the country, it is generally true that both country and state leaders are more interested in getting results. However, most of them are good in planning but poor in implementation strategies.
  • Problems in Tackling Tough Challenges:
    Again, many countries are struggling to cope with complex “wicked” challenges such as growing health and educational problems.
  • Old Way of Doing Business:
    The implementation of traditional techniques to find the solutions of problems which arise due to modern lifestyle is simply not going to work. As a result, governments across the globe are struggling to provide quality public service. These methods no longer respond to complex and multi-faceted problems citizens face these days.

 5 Trends in Public Service Reforms:
It is a fact that governments are introducing a lot of reforms in public service. However, there is nothing wrong in saying that the trends of these reforms are also changing. These changes correspond to the ways many countries are responding to challenges they are facing.

  • Citizen Focus:
    There are number of countries which more closely attend to what people are saying and what their needs are rather than making assumptions. They are more interested in providing public service from citizens’ perspective. They also try customising their services for area to area. Similarly, they are also collaborating with private organisations to make the services better.
  • Tackling Silos:
    There is also a growing trend among governments to try and breakdown silo organisations and adopt more creative and modern approach to take on public service delivery challenges. The problem with silo organisations is that they are no longer capable to meet the increasing demands of public. As a result, governments are striving to develop more integrated corporate agencies to counter these problems.
  • Aligning Priorities and Budget:
    High performing governments nowadays are tending to only a small number of key priorities because when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. It is especially important for tackling tough or wicked challenges such as those prevailing in health and education sector. This policy works best when policy priorities are aligned with budget priorities. However, it is also important to have policies in place to identify risks which are entailed by new priority policies to avoid any possible disaster.
  • Accountability:
    Modern governments also want the heads of various departments to take ownership of whatever they are doing. As a matter of fact, there should be a central ownership of all the government projects especially when they are initiated for providing public services. Most importantly, the head of the project should be held accountable when something goes wrong.
  • Measurement and Reporting:
    Finally, an increasing number of governments are emphasizing on the importance of reporting and measuring the performance of the individuals. Similarly, they try to make entire process as transparent as possible because it will create pressure for timely delivery of the services.

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  2. By Ali Jafri (MILE)

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