Globally, governments are coming under increased pressure to adopt new technological advances, become more efficient and respond to more diverse demands. These pressures are fundamentally shifting the way that governments engage with citizens, deliver services and collect revenue.
The NSW Government will continue to focus on becoming more agile, especially by increasing collaboration across all levels of government, and across the private and public sectors. It will also take a more proactive and preventive approach to government interventions and policies.
Future global trends affecting the public sector
The way governments around the world are engaging with citizens, collecting revenue and providing services is rapidly changing. A number of global trends are contributing to this shift.
- As technology continues to evolve, many traditional services and functions of government will be delivered through digital channels.
- As organisations and individuals transition to a paperless and technology-infused society, governments will need to bridge the digital divide while retaining legacy access to services as the population transitions.
- Collecting data, using predictive models and deploying other analytic tools will enable governments to focus on implementing proactive and preventative measures rather than reactive policies and services. For example, an increased focus on police intelligence and targeting may help prevent crimes being committed in the first place.
- Real-time feedback from smart data systems will enable governments to become more agile in continually improving their services.
Just-in-time civil services
- The public sector’s talent management practices will need to shift to deliver flexible and adaptable demand-based staffing that makes the best use of the resources available.
The ‘rise of the individual’
- As governments become more capable of delivering targeted services, they will also become more responsive to the needs of the individual.
- Governments may focus on serving smaller more densely populated geographical areas so they can provide mobile, personal assistance that meets the individual needs and expectations of different groups.
- Governments will continue to focus on becoming more collaborative and transparent in their decision making. To do this, they will increasingly partner with the private sector and non-profit organisations and citizens when designing and delivering services.
Increased public debt
- In an environment of increasing fiscal constraints, governments will seek new revenue streams and funding sources, such as social impact bonds and tax increment financing.
- Technology will enable citizens to ‘pay as they go’ in real time for the services they use.
- Mounting pressure will encourage governments to explore and invest in more renewable and sustainable practices; In doing so, they will need to compensate citizens affected by extreme weather events, and adapt policies so they regulate and promote environmentally sustainable energy sources.
The strain on resources
- Resources such as housing, energy, land, food and water will be in greater demand, but supply will be more limited. This strain will force governments to develop innovative approaches when designing and providing services. Internationally and within Australia, government agencies have been incorporating concepts such as behavioural economics to influence citizens’ behaviours and consumption of resources.
The future focus of the public sector
In response to this radically reshaped role of government in society, there are two frameworks that you can consider as a senior executive:
- Mark Moore’s ‘strategic triangle’ framework which guides effective strategic decision making
- Jocelyne Bourgon’s theory on ‘a new synthesis of public administration’, which highlights what governments should focus on as they re-position themselves in this evolving environment.
Responding to global trends, there are four imperatives the NSW government will need to act on.
Serving in an expanded public space
Citizens are asking more of their government, particularly around citizen's level of involvement in designing and providing services. As a senior executive your should encourage ongoing review of the services your team offers to help align them with citizens’ expectations. This will include exploring different platforms and technologies for delivering work within your team or agency.
Trends: Enabling technologies; individual, distributed governance; increased use of digital channels; less reliance on face-to-face interactions.
Serving beyond the predictable
There is an increasing expectation that governments will be able to predict and respond immediately to natural disasters and crises, while at the same time using strategic foresight to prepare for longer-term sustainability. By restructuring the amount of responsibility and accountability shared among all roles, governments will be better equipped to respond to emerging priorities.
Trends: Climate change; limited resources; increased complexity with fewer resources.
Building proactive interventions
There is also an expectation that governments will be able to:
- facilitate cross-boundary collaboration - within and outside the government sphere
- use collective power to combine knowledge, know-how, capacity and resources, increasing their ability to respond to complex problems.
As a leader, you should aim to create cross-department conversations fostering a collaborative approach to solving whole-of-government challenges.
Trends: Data-smart government; just-in-time civil services; targeted service delivery.
Improving adaptive capacity
Strong communities are central to society's adaptive capacity. In this environment, governments must work with communities to build their skills, resilience and self-reliance.
Trends: Focus on the individual; access to government across channels.
- Australia 2030: navigating our uncertain future (CSIRO, May 2016)
- Future State 2030: The global megatrends shaping governments (KPMG International, 2014)
- What government might look like in 2030 (Stephen Foreshew-Cain, United Kingdom Government Digital Service team, 11 May 2016)
- Gov2020: A Journey into the Future of Government (Deloitte, 2015)
- The Government Summit Thought Leadership Series: Service Delivery Trend Outlook - The potential future of government customer service delivery (United Arabic Emirates in collaboration with Deloitte, February 2015)