Modernizing Government

… a core topic in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100

GovernanceMaryStallTopic description

This teaching topic addresses the theory and practice of modernizing and improving the delivery of public goods and services. See also Promoting Innovation and Driving Change.

Topic learning outcome

Upon completing this topic the student will be familiar with the theory and practice of modernizing public services, including with the concepts in the table below.

Core concepts associated with this topic
Skogstad’s Four Competing Models of Authority

New Public Management

Kernaghan’s Bureaucratic/Post-bureaucratic Framework

Aucoin’s New Public Governance

Networked Governance

Quasi-Public Corporation

Management Differences between Public and Private Sectors

Management Consulting

Performance Improvement and Performance Leadership

Private-Public Partnerships

Privatization

Red Tape Reduction

Service Standards

Human Resource Management Reforms

Performance-Related Pay

Public Sector Innovation

Public Sector Leadership and Communication

Atlas resource page and other concepts relevant to this topic

Best Practices Advice

OECD Advice on Modernizing Government

Recommended readings for 8 hours of preparation

George A. Larbi (1999), The New Public Management Approach and Crisis States, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, at http://www.unrisd.org/80256B3C005BCCF9/(httpPublications)/5F280B19C6125F4380256B6600448FDB, accessed 28 August 2016.

Carolyn Tuohy (2006), Partnering for Public Purpose – New Modes of Accountability for New Modes of Governance, A paper prepared for the Symposium on Partnering for Public Purpose: How Can Governments Ensure Success and Accountability in their Financial Support for the Activities of Others? School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, 22 November 2006, available as Appendix 12, pages 81-90, in Ian Clark and Frances Lankin (2006), From Red Tape to Clear Results, The Report of the Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grants and Contributions Programs, Government of Canada, at http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/BT22-109-2007E.pdf, accessed 19 November 2016.

OECD (2014), Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies, at http://www.oecd.org/gov/digital-government/Recommendation-digital-government-strategies.pdf, accessed 19 November 2016.

Peggy Liu (2002), Can Public Managers Learn from Trends in Manufacturing Management, International Public Management Review – electronic Journal at http://www.ipmr.net, Volume 3, Issue 2, pages 44-59, at http://journals.sfu.ca/ipmr/index.php/ipmr/article/view/200/200, accessed 19 November 2016.

Wikipedia (2016), Management consulting, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Management_consulting, accessed 19 November 2016.

Canadian Association of Management Consultants (CMC-Canada), at http://www.cmc-canada.ca/whoweare/about-the-profession, accessed 19 November 2016.

Rachel Curran (2016), Will “deliverology” work for the federal government? Policy Options, 27 April 2016, at http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/april-2016/is-deliverology-right-for-canada/, accessed 20 November 2016.

Leslie Pal and Ian Clark (2016), Best Practices in Public Management, at http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/best-practices-in-public-management-project/, accessed 20 November 2016.

PPP Knowledge Lab, What is a PPP, at https://pppknowledgelab.org/ppp-cycle/what-ppp, accessed 21 November 2016.

OECD (2012), Recommendation of the Council on Principles for Public Governance of Public-Private Partnerships, at http://www.oecd.org/governance/budgeting/PPP-Recommendation.pdf, accessed 21 November 2016.

Paul Krugman (2016), Infrastructure Build or Privatization Scam? New York Times, 19 November, at http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/11/19/infrastructure-build-or-privatization-scam/, accessed 21 November 2016

OECD (2009), Privatisation in the 21st Century – Recent Experiences of OECD Countries, at https://www.oecd.org/daf/ca/corporategovernanceofstate-ownedenterprises/48476423.pdf, accessed 21 November 2016. 

Frances Lankin and Ian Clark (2006), From Red Tape to Clear Results – The Report of the Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grants and Contributions Programs, Government of Canada, at http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/BT22-109-2007E.pdf, accessed 16 November 2016. (Skim)

Government of Canada (2012), Guideline on Service Standards, at https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=25750, accessed 21 November 2016.

Teresa Curristine, Zsuzsanna Lonti, and Isabelle Joumard (2007), Improving Public Sector Efficiency: Challenges and Opportunities, OECD Journal on Budgeting, Volume 7, No. 1, at https://www.oecd.org/gov/budgeting/43412680.pdf, accessed 20 November 2016.  

OECD (2005), Performance-Related Pay Policies for Government Employees, at http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/performance-related-pay-policies-for-government-employees_9789264007550-en#.WDIrl-QzXRZ#page1, accessed 20 November 2016.  

OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation, at https://www.oecd.org/governance/observatory-public-sector-innovation/ 

OECD, Public Sector Leadership for the 21st Century – Executive Summary, at http://www.oecd.org/governance/pem/2434104.pdf, accessed 21 November 2016.

Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind (2012), Leadership is a Conversation, Harvard Business Review, June, at https://hbr.org/2012/06/leadership-is-a-conversation, accessed 22 November 2016.

Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses

TO COME

Concept comprehension questions

AQ100.12.01. Among statements a-d pertaining to Grace Skogstad’s four competing models of authority choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. State-centred political authority occurs when elected state actors exercise the political authority in a state.

b. Expert authority occurs when rule-making and standard setting is performed by non-elected officials.

c. Market-based authority occurs when private economic actors are empowered to provide goods and services formerly within the realm of public authorities.

d. Popular authority occurs when direct public input and deliberation is included in the decision-making process.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.02. Among statements a-d pertaining to new public management (NPM) choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. NPM is a set of principles for government spending and activity that were developed as a response to the global financial crises of 2008-09.

b. NPM is a public sector management theory that seeks to make government more efficient and responsive by employing private sector techniques and creating market conditions for the delivery of public services.

c. NPM theorists suggest that because much of the civil service focuses on the delivery of core services that should be free of political machinations, governments should employ private sector management principles and try to create market conditions to make the delivery of services more efficient and autonomous.

d. NPM involves re-examining what government does and attempting to make it more strategic and results-oriented, increasing the flexibility of staffing, improving financial management, and relying increasingly on competitions and contracts.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.03. Among statements a-d pertaining to Kernaghan’s Bureaucratic/Post-bureaucratic Framework choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. The bureaucratic organization is organization-centred with an emphasis on the needs of the organization itself while the post-bureaucratic organization is citizen-centred with an emphasis on quality service to citizens.

b. The bureaucratic organization is people-centred with an emphasis on an empowering and caring milieu for employees while the post-bureaucratic organization is rule-centred with an emphasis on rules, procedures, and constraints.

c. The bureaucratic organization is process-oriented with an emphasis on accountability for process while the post-bureaucratic organization is results-oriented with an emphasis on accountability for results.

d. The bureaucratic organization is budget-driven with programs financed largely from appropriations while the post-bureaucratic organization is revenue-driven with programs financed as far as possible on a cost recovery basis.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.04. Among statements a-d pertaining to Peter Aucoin’s new public governance choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. New public governance includes the concentration of power under the prime minister and his “court” of a few select ministers, political aides, and public servants.

b. New public governance includes a reassertion by political leaders of their democratic right to govern by taking control of the state apparatus.

c. New public governance includes a sharper distinction between the political and the administrative and an insistence that public servants behave is a strictly apolitical manner.

d. New public governance includes an increased number of political staff, and their enhanced roles and influence.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.05. Among statements a-d pertaining to networked governance choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Networked governance refers to the increasingly important set of interactions between officials at the local, provincial, national, and international levels.

b. Policymakers in advanced nations are coming to see the role of government as operating through networks of state and societal actors, rather than as command-and-control hierarchies.

c. Because lines of accountability within networks may be multiple, tangled and obscured, networked governance challenges established concepts of democratic government, with their emphasis on the ultimate exercise of sanction through democratic institutions.

d. The central problems in a networked governance model of the role of government are the location of responsibility order to ensure accountability, and the channeling of the information necessary to hold responsible agents accountable.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.06. Among statements a-d pertaining to digital government and e-government choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Digital government is the use of digital technologies, as an integrated part of governments’ modernization strategies, to create public value.

b. Digital government relies on a digital government ecosystem comprised of government actors, non-governmental organisations, businesses, citizens’ associations and individuals which supports the production of and access to data, services and content through interactions with the government.

c. e-government is the use by the governments of information and communication technologies, and particularly the Internet, as a tool to achieve better government.

d. The greatest impediment advances in digital government is the lack of computer and Internet access by citizens.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.07. Among statements a-d pertaining to quasi-public corporation choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. A quasi-public corporation is a type of corporation in the private sector that is backed by a branch of government that has a public mandate to provide a given service.

b. Employees of quasi-public corporations work for the government.

c. Most quasi-public corporations began as government agencies, but have since become separate entities.

d. It is not uncommon to see the shares of quasi-public corporations trade on major stock exchanges, which allows individual investors to gain exposure to the company’s profit.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.08. Among statements a-d pertaining to management differences between the public and private sectors choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Wallace Sayre famously quipped “public and private management are fundamentally alike in all unimportant respects.”

b. Unlike the private sector, the public sector often uses public authority in performing its functions whereby citizens can be forced to comply with decisions, pay taxes, have their property compulsorily acquired, and are subject to sanctions deriving in the end from the coercive powers of the state.

c. The public sector’s coercive element calls for fair and equitable treatment whereas private enterprises have great freedom to be arbitrary in dealing with different customers differently or in ignoring normal procedures.

d. It is easier to measure performance in the public sector than the private sector because everything comes down to the single indicator of electoral success.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.09. Among statements a-d pertaining to management consulting choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Management consulting is the practice of helping organizations to improve their performance, operating primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and the development of plans for improvement.

b. Management consultants develop unique methodologies and help clients avoid the dangers of trying to mimic “best practices.”

c. Management consultants may provide process analysis and operational improvement services.

d. Management consultants may provide strategy development organizational change management services.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.10. Among statements a-d pertaining to performance improvement and performance leadership choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Performance improvement usually involves measuring the output of a particular business process or procedure, then modifying the process or procedure to increase the output, increase efficiency, or increase the effectiveness of the process or procedure.

b. Performance improvement can be applied to either individual performance such as an employee or organizational performance such as a department of government.

c. Performance improvement should, in principle, be easier in the public sector than the private sector because the public sector relies more on fair and uniform processes.

d. In organizational development, performance improvement is organizational change in which the managers and governing body of an organization put into place and manage a program which measures the current level of performance of the organization and then generates ideas for modifying organizational behaviour and infrastructure which are put into place to achieve higher output.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.11. Among statements a-d pertaining to deliverology choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Deliverology is the science of delivering on goals and promises, particularly those made by governments.

b. Deliverology is a term associated with Sir Michael Barber, a former aide to UK prime minister Tony Blair, who led the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit.

c. Deliverology relies on a clear identification of priorities, the setting of targets and the collection of data related to those priorities, and the exercise of central oversight through a unit reporting directly and regularly to the leader.

d. Deliverology is particularly applicable in a federal system of where the national government is largely uninvolved in direct service delivery.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.10. Among statements a-d pertaining to best practices advice choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Providing best practices advice on how to improve public management is one of the chief functions of international agencies such as the OECD and the World Bank.

b. International organizations such as the OECD and the World Bank are a key source of advice to governments about what allegedly “works.”

c. International organizations such as the OECD and the World Bank are crucial nodes in international networks where governmental and non-governmental actors meet, share ideas, and try to diffuse them globally as well as locally.

d. There is no well-organized source of best practices advice in the subject areas taught in public policy and public management programs.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.13. Among statements a-d pertaining to TQM, Six Sigma, and Lean choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. TQM, Six Sigma, and Lean are techniques and methodologies that have been developed for improving productivity and profitability of business enterprises and in which some public enterprises have shown an interest.

b. TQM is a business philosophy which explains the ways of managing people and business processes in order to ensure customer satisfaction at every stage of the business.

c. Six Sigma is a tool of measuring the quality that drives towards perfection focusing on continuous quality improvements for achieving near perfection by limiting the number of possible defects to a target number per million.

d. Lean is improving the flow process of any product during its production by focusing on reducing waste during any process and ultimately raising the speed of the process.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.14. Among statements a-d pertaining to public-private partnerships (PPP) choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. A PPP is a long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance.

b. Creating a PPP is a relatively new phenomenon and there is not yet much comparative data on how and when it works best.

c. The OECD recommends that any PPP project should be treated transparently in the budget process such that the budget documentation should disclose all costs and contingent liabilities.

d. The OECD recommends that in implementing any PPP project government should guard against waste and corruption by ensuring the integrity of the procurement process and ensuring that the necessary procurement skills and powers are made available to the relevant authorities.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.15. Among statements a-d pertaining to the distinction between quasi-public corporations and public-private partnerships (PPP) choose the one that is most valid or choose e if all none is valid.

a. A PPP happens when an existing government agency becomes privatized and operates separately form the government; quasi public corporations are private agencies that operate under a branch of government..

b. Quasi-public corporations are private organizations that have signed long-term contract with the government to operate within government jurisdiction; PPPs are agreements between government and private sector to provide a public asset or service.

c. Most quasi-public corporations begin as government agencies but now operate as separate entities still operating under a branch of government; a PPP is an agreement between government and private corporations to provide a public asset or service.

d. Most PPPs are agreements between the government and private corporations for the government to take over the operations of the private corporation; a quasi public corporation was a government agency now operating in the private sector.

e. None of a-d is a valid statement.

AQ100.12.16. Among statements a-d pertaining to privatization choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Privatization is a material transaction by which the state’s ultimate ownership of corporate entities is reduced.

b. The definition of privatisation differs among OECD countries with some countries including only transactions subject to privatisation legislation while others include transfer of individual activities from the public to the private domain.

c. Privatization is a relatively new phenomenon and there is not yet much comparative data on how and when it works best.

d. The OECD says governments need to continually assess the pros and cons of privatising their state owned enterprises and this involves weighing the revenues to the public purse and the macroeconomic efficiency gains from privatisation against the net losses of public utility provided by the enterprise remaining in public as opposed to private ownership.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.17. Among statements a-d pertaining to red tape reduction choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Red tape reduction as a reduction of bureaucratic obstacles to action.

b. Many governments undertake reforms to improve their operations by reducing red tape.

c. Reforms to reduce tape to improve operations are usually undertaken as part of regulatory reform to address the systemic barriers that unnecessarily frustrate and burden business with additional delays, costs and bureaucracy.

d. Red tape generally includes filling out paperwork, obtaining licenses, having multiple people or committees approve a decision and various low-level rules that make conducting one’s affairs slower, more difficult, or both.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.18. Among statements a-d pertaining to service standards choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. A service standard is a public commitment to a measurable level of performance that clients can expect under normal circumstances.

b. While service standards are common in the private sector they are rarely used in the public sector.

c. Service standards serve two key purposes: to provide staff with performance targets (“Phone must be answered within three rings”); and to inform clients what to expect (“Waiting time is less than 10 minutes”).

d. Service standards reinforce government accountability by making performance transparent, and increase the confidence of citizens in government by demonstrating the government’s commitment to service excellence.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.19. Among statements a-d pertaining to human resource management reforms choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Reforming human resource management practices is rarely included in efforts to modernize government.

b. Human resource management practices are recognized as a major institutional driver in the efficiency of the public sector.

c. Human resource management reforms are often driven by ideological considerations and management fads rather than by efficiency concerns.

d. Performance-related pay initiatives appear to have a low impact on staff motivation.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.20. Among statements a-d pertaining to performance-related pay choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. The term performance-related pay, also called pay for performance or simply performance pay, refers to a variety of systems linking pay to performance.

b. Performance-related pay schemes in the public sector usually take account of what has been called public service motivation – a pro-social, other-directed set of attitudes that embody a concern for the well being of others.

c. Compared to the private sector, employees in government agencies and bureaucracies face multiple principals – including citizens, immediate superiors, politicians and central agencies – all with legitimate expectations. Multiple principals means agents are evaluated from many vantage points. Not all principals are created equal, of course, and PFP arrangements remind agents about where their “real” interests lay. They cannot, however, extinguish multiple loyalties, particularly among those who exhibit PSM.

d. Surveys of research on the effectiveness of performance-related pay schemes typically find they can have deleterious effects on individual and group performance.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.21. Among statements a-d pertaining to public sector innovation choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Public sector innovation refers to the development and adoption of new ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations.

b. Most OECD governments encourage innovation in their public sectors and examples of innovations can be found on a web portal called Observatory of Public Sector Innovation.

c. In Canada, as part of Destination 2020, a blueprint for public service modernisation, the Clerk of the Privy Council committed to establishing a central innovation hub that provides expertise and advice on new and emerging approaches to policy and program challenges, such as behavioural economics and social finance, and helps help departments and agencies to test, document, accelerate, replicate and scale innovation across the public service.

d. The UK has introduced a What Works Network to improve the use of high quality evidence when government makes decisions about public services, and is claimed to be the first time any government has prioritized evidence to inform policy and practice through a national approach.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.12.22. Among statements a-d pertaining to public sector leadership and communication choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. OECD has said that leadership is a critical component of good public governance and that effective communication is increasingly viewed as a crucial element in effective leadership in any organizational setting.

b. OECD member countries are finding that there is a gap between how their public sectors are, and how the interests of the nation need them to be now or in the future, and a common response seems to be the attempt to promote a certain kind of leadership.

c. Despite the crucial role played by leadership, for a variety of reasons the OECD does not see leadership ever becoming a “hot topic” in public management.

d. The leadership development strategies of OECD members are spread across a wide spectrum, ranging from countries with centralized systems (where future leaders are identified and nurtured from the early stage) to countries which use “market-type” approaches to developing and securing leaders.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 3 April 2017.

Image: Mary Stall, Governance of Cultural Districts, at http://www.gcdn.net/index/ncf-summit-2014/, accessed 18 August 2016.