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Delivery in Uncertainty

Creating public value when times are changing

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Foreword

Foreword

We are arguably in one of the most uncertain periods in living memory.

There is less trust in the establishment than ever before, election results are more unpredictable and there is greater instability in international relations. The burden of debt following the global financial crisis remains high, there has been zero to low growth in the incomes of many. There is anxiety around a range of issues from global climate change to automation.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Far from it. Leaders around the world are rising to meet these challenges. The ones who are succeeding understand the importance of delivering on their promises, prioritising strong and effective governance, and setting policies that address these key issues and improve the lives of citizens.

We can never guarantee certainty - in life or politics. The job of leaders and public servants is to learn to deliver despite uncertainty. This means clarity on goals, a confident sense of direction, regular demonstrations of progress and genuine dialogue. When there is a maelstrom around you, you have to trust in the solid foundations beneath you.

Governments around the world spend large sums of money, and that money can
be spent wisely or it can be wasted. In the current global climate, taxpayers, leaders and civil servants can no longer afford the latter.

Sir Michael Barber

Chairman and Founder
Delivery Associates

Introduction

Delivery in uncertainty

Introduction

Delivery in uncertainty

There are some big, global challenges on the horizon for governments around the world.

These include:


Trust

A lack of public confidence in government and public institutions creates an imperative for real dialogue with citizens.


Demographics

Population shifts bring new pressures and challenges in every area
of public policy.


Sustainability

Changing biodiversity and climate, and its impact on every aspect of daily life, requires an urgent and coordinated response.


Technology

Innovations are a massive opportunity to improve lives, but policy has not yet caught up to the pace of change.

These challenges are interdependent. Fears over data and privacy have lowered trust, but data and technology may also be part of the solution for rebuilding governments’ relationships with their citizens. Likewise, changes in both demographics and sustainability are mutually reinforcing. For all of these trends, the common denominator is uncertainty.

Governments will need to work in new ways to meet these challenges. But not all the solutions are new. A focus on delivery - defining success early, prioritising ruthlessly, measuring and reviewing progress, and making real-time course corrections – remains essential.

Over the coming pages, we look at the work of a selection of governments that are adapting and delivering in an age of uncertainty. They are stories of creativity, diligence, and impact that challenge our perceptions about the good government can do. We hope you will draw as much inspiration from reading about the heroes of these stories as we did from meeting and working with them.

1. Trust

Trust

1. Trust

Trust

Trust in politicians and public institutions has declined around the world. Social media and 'fake news' has accelerated this global trend, making it difficult to know which facts or voices to believe. Worse still, public suspicion is often squarely aimed at the elected leaders and institutions that should sit at the heart of a healthy democracy.

Increasingly, the public expects politicians to make empty promises and never deliver on their commitments. This deep-rooted cynicism is affecting elections, referendums and the day-to-day interactions between government institutions and citizens. The fallout is visible around the world.

In this context, it has never been more important for leaders to keep the promises they make, and for those promises to align with the moral purpose of government. The antidote to distrust is transparency and accountability.

Politicians viewed as one of least trusted professions in the UK

Established in 1983, the Ipsos MORI Veracity Index is the longest-running poll on trust in professions in Britain. The poll has consistently asked for Britons' views on how much they trust certain key professions in society. While the 2018 edition showed that there was a slight improvement in the trust scores for politicians and Ministers from the previous year, it still rates them as one of the least trusted professions.

"Now I will read you a list of different types of people. For each would you tell me if you generally trust them to tell the truth, or not?"

1.1 Make trust the goal

Make trust the goal

1.1 Make trust the goal

Make trust the goal

Trust can be regained. Cultures can and do change - as do attitudes. And good government can deliver change that leads to people living better, longer and fuller lives.

Recognising the issue is the first step. Committing to the improvement of trust as a specific goal is the second. While it may feel abstract, trust can be treated the same way as any other delivery challenge - with clear goals and plans to achieve them, routines to monitor progress and continuous problem-solving to achieve the goal.

Case Study

The Ministry of Interior in Peru set up an Office for Institutional Integrity to improve trust in government, with an emphasis on corruption. Surveys had shown that citizens believed the police force in Peru was among the most corrupt of all public institutions in the country.

Worse still, Peruvians perceived that there were no consequences to this corruption and that police officers could act with impunity. At the time, investigations into corruption in the police service had been taking 40 days on average. A legal statute stipulates that investigations have to be presented to the prosecutors within 30 days, so investigations were being timed out, the work wasted and progress lost.

The Office was given a more proactive remit with new personnel, skills and experience and an emphasis on delivering change. The team broke down the delivery chain to understand the roles involved in the investigations and the challenges and delays at every level. It turned out that it was not the investigation itself that was adding the extra hours and days, but the systems and processes around it.

One of the key inefficiencies identified was the outsourcing of printing, which both added days to the process and affected the chain of custody. The team invested in higher capacity printers and cut many days from the process.

By making changes in each step of the process, the team reduced the average time of investigations by 50%. After the reforms, 100% of new investigations were finalised within the legally required timeline.

Police in Peru viewed as the easiest to bribe

Proetica is the Peruvian chapter of Transparency International and was created in 2002 as the first Peruvian NGO to specifically promote transparency and highlight corruption. Their tenth national survey of perceptions of corruption in Peru found that while the perception of corruption in the police had slightly decreased, police were still viewed as the easiest public official to bribe.

“Which public officials do you believe would be easiest to bribe?”

Source: Proetica National Survey of Corruption Perceptions, September 2018. Base - 1314 interviewees

1.2 Put citizens at the centre

Put citizens at the centre

1.2 Put citizens at the centre

Put citizens at the centre

Citizen engagement is crucial when trust is low. In setting goals and designing services to meet them, governments must keep two questions in mind: Will citizens care? And is this what they want?

Setting goals that measure citizen satisfaction is key. To improve this metric, governments can engage their citizens to test, prototype, and design a user-centred journey for every service. The engagement cannot be mere consultation for its own sake - it needs to be driven by a genuine drive to prioritise and design the best possible citizen experience. Integrity and authenticity are the foundations for building trust.

Case Study

In New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, the Premier outlined twelve priority areas for the Government in 2015. Alongside goals for job creation, improved education results, housing construction and infrastructure investment, there is one dedicated to ‘Improving Government Services’.

As part of this priority, the NSW Government has publicly committed to improving customer satisfaction with key services. One of the many ways they incorporate this input into service delivery design is through an annual Customer Satisfaction Measurement Survey that captures feedback from citizens and businesses on 23 different Government services.

This “customer-first approach” is epitomised by the ‘Service NSW’ portal – a single point for more than 850 different government transactions.

One result of the feedback from citizens was the launch of a cost of living advisory service in August 2018. The service aims to help citizens access more than 70 rebates and savings and has so far seen over 22,000 customers through the face-to-face appointments, with customers saving an average of over $500.

2018 Government's Customer Satisfaction Index

“The Customer Satisfaction Measurement Survey provides a holistic view of customer service, including baseline scores for Whole of Government customer satisfaction from which to gauge future success of citizen-centric reforms.”

New South Wales Customer Service Commissioner

1.3 Remember whose money you’re spending

Remember whose money you’re spending

1.3 Remember whose money you’re spending

Remember whose money you’re spending

In an age of scepticism, governments must prioritise turning political promises into real results. Taxpayer money should be spent on outcomes that citizens see and feel in their everyday lives.

Essentially that means enhancing the productivity of the public sector. Citizens deserve to know that every dollar of their taxes is delivering the most value possible for them, their families, and the country as a whole.

Practically, this means aligning spending to the outcomes you want to achieve for citizens, tracking the return on investment, and reporting the results to taxpayers.

Case Study

In the UK, the Government has announced it will be implementing a Public Value Framework to improve the delivery of public services.

The UK Treasury recognised the perennial challenge of assessing, measuring and improving government productivity. The Public Value Framework was therefore developed as a tool to define and assess how public money is being spent to deliver real results for citizens. It also addresses deeper and more systemic issues, including the internal culture around spending.

As is the case in many countries, the traditional relationship between spending departments and the fiscal centre in the UK has been characterised by a focus on negotiating inputs rather than outcomes. Ministers tend to be judged positively for negotiating a large budget and headcount for their department, and money rarely returned. There was little reward for innovation or spending less.

The Framework does not recommend less scrutiny on the inputs, but a more rounded definition of public value that emphasises medium term goals, legitimacy with taxpayers and the engagement of end users. It also highlights the importance of stewardship - the idea that public servants should leave institutions better than they found them.

After a successful pilot, all UK Government departments will now report their performance against the Framework in their departmental plans, and it will be a key factor in budget allocations during the Treasury’s Spending Reviews.

Public Value Framework

The framework and this new approach offer an important opportunity to think differently about performance and develop a greater understanding of the process of turning inputs into outcomes across public services.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP Chief Secretary to the Treasury (March 2019)

2. Demographics

Demographics

2. Demographics

Demographics

Demographic changes pose a range of challenges for political leaders.

Economic development and lower mortality rates in lower-income countries have resulted in a population that is younger, growing fast, and increasingly urban. Government services are struggling to keep up. By contrast, many OECD countries are adapting to the economics of supporting an aging population.

But the global picture is clear: demographic changes pose new challenges for everyone. Over the last seventy years, the world’s population has trebled and the UN predict this could peak at 11 billion at the start of the next century. Over half the world now lives in cities, with the number set to increase to 68% by 2050. These trends continue to put pressure on resources and demand innovative responses from the governments that allocate them.

2.1 Use data to understand reality

Use data to understand reality

2.1 Use data to understand reality

Use data to understand reality

Understanding the intricacies behind the size, distribution and composition of a population is key to effective government.

Macro trends happen slowly and incrementally so it requires a long-term view, but it also needs constant examination of the complex factors that that drive demographics – including economic development, a changing climate, natural disasters, conflict – and, of course, government policies.

Case Study

Officials from the city of Asunción (Paraguay) used to call it a “city without numbers". There had been no census for fifteen years and budget allocation decisions were made following historical patterns rather than current data on the make-up and needs of the population.

Without that insight and information, particularly on vulnerable citizens like the elderly, people with disabilities and visible minorities, the government did not know how many people needed services, what type of services were needed, or how to improve service delivery.

Driven by the goal of "making the invisible citizens visible", the municipality is now piloting a participatory model to identify citizens' needs and demands. Specifically, they are prioritising data use to ensure the most vulnerable citizens have access to the city's social protection system.

To facilitate this, they have interviewed 10,000 citizens and collected relevant data on vulnerable populations. This has included a lot of work to identify communities that are largely undocumented and living in slum housing in risk zones often affected by floods.

With a combination of engagement and solid data, City Hall will identify the most vulnerable individuals and match them with relevant support programs. In the coming years, this new approach is expected to improve social inclusion and the value of public investment.

A similar story is unfolding in the city of Estación Central (Chile).

Chile experienced a 232% increase in immigration between 2014 and 2017 – among the largest in the region. Estación Central has the third largest immigrant population in its greater metropolitan area, with immigrants representing one in five of its 150,000 residents. These new immigrants are often at the margins of economic and educational opportunities.

To address this challenge, the municipality is taking a proactive approach and prioritizing citizen engagement and integration. The RedGlocal project is run by the City’s Agency for Entrepreneurship, is supported by an advisory group of local Universities, and focuses on providing a customized one-stop-shop for migrants.

New services have been established to connect migrants to job opportunities, including skills and training options, advice on accessing the local labour market and the development of a one-year acceleration program for foreign entrepreneurs who want to start new businesses.

The early results are promising. Between January and May 2019, seventy immigrants were matched with job opportunities, and twenty-five entrepreneurs are receiving legal and business support to launch or expand their small ventures. The city now has ambitious plans to scale up service to immigrant groups and set an example for diversity and inclusion in the region.

The innovation and efforts of both Estación Central and Asunción were recognised by Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge - the yearlong competition that challenges city leaders to uncover and test bold, inventive ideas to confront the toughest problems faced by cities today. Both cities were finalists in the 2016 Mayors Challenge and received a grant to continue their work.

“We have to understand that Chile has changed and has a new reality. If we do not consider this new reality, we will deal with a high cost for the country in the future. The economic integration of migrants today is urgent. It is on us to help them leave the precarious conditions in which they are now.”

Rodrigo Delgado, Mayor of Estación Central

2.2 Engage the delivery chain

Engage the delivery chain

2.2 Engage the delivery chain

Engage the delivery chain

When a challenge is complex, delivery often cannot happen without a large number of stakeholders understanding the goals, supporting the approach and ultimately all pulling in the same direction.

This starts at the centre of government with the team around a leader, but quickly expands out to different departments, levels of government, public bodies, contractors, suppliers - and of course, end users and general public. In short, governments must understand and work through the entire delivery chain to be successful.

Case Study

In South Africa, the Gauteng Provincial Government has committed to reforming housing policy in the region, addressing some of the longterm impacts of apartheid-era legislation on land and home ownership.

There is a province-wide housing shortage and a desire to improve integration and spatial inequality. Homes had previously been delivered in silos and in small numbers across many different locations, often located far away from employment opportunities and infrastructure.

To address this complex policy area, the provincial government has put in place several large-scale programmes. This includes releasing provincial land and buildings for the development of homes, as well as investment in affordable housing in new mass housing developments across the province.

As part of this work, there has been a specific drive to provide Title Deeds to those who have received housing but were not given the legal rights associated with it. This focuses on transferring ownership of properties to tenants who had been previously been denied property ownership, as well as providing housing to those who had been forcefully removed from their property before 1994.

It has been a long and complicated process to address historic injustices and has required involvement from the whole system - from national government and planning departments through to the Mayors, municipalities and provincial government.

To specifically address the backlog in Title Deeds, the Government introduced structured and routine problem-solving sessions with a variety of stakeholders to identify blockages and implement solutions that would facilitate quick wins. As a result of the stakeholders working together, internal issues around signatories and certificates were resolved and the team started working with conveyancers to fast track issues around power of attorney at various municipality offices throughout the region.

The Government has also made a point of visibly and regularly delivering title deeds to community members – helping to drive implementation while actively engaging the communities affected. This included ‘Title Deed Friday,’ where the Premier, David Makhura, personally visited communities to hand out thousands of title deeds during the last quarter of 2018.

As a result of these interventions, the backlog has started to decline and progress is being made towards the target.

“The handover of title deeds is an equally proud moment for the province. We have committed to bringing about redress by transferring ownership of properties to tenants who were denied property ownership previously.”

David Makhura, Gauteng Premier

2.3 Own your goal

Own your goal

2.3 Own your goal

Own your goal

When the leader at the top is personally interested, invested and involved in delivery, success is far more likely.

Politicians need to clearly define their aspiration and what they want to achieve for citizens, but words alone are not enough. A priority isn’t really a priority unless leaders are willing to invest their time, effort, focus and political capital into achieving it.

Case Study

In the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis is driving an ambitious transformation project in Over-the-Hill, a residential district in the capital city of Nassau. Once a thriving community, the socio-economic health of the area has slowly declined and it is now one of the poorest regions in the country with the highest crime rate. The district suffers from dilapidated community facilities and insufficient housing, lack of basic infrastructure including sewerage and plumbing, a high prevalence of gang-related violence and widespread unemployment.

In 2014, Dr. Minnis outlined a vision to improve the Over-the-Hill community and restore it to its "golden age”. As a former resident of the area, it was a key part of his manifesto during the election and it became one of the Prime Minister’s six key Priorities when he was elected in 2017.

The Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative was officially launched in May 2018 and the Government has committed $5 million per annum from the national budget to fund it. The project, and its progress, is managed and monitored by the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit.

Built around six key pillars, the long-term regeneration project looks at a wide range of initiatives from the restoration of parks, employment of new police officers and the installation of sanitation and water connections through to Wi-Fi installation and tax breaks for businesses.

A project of this scope requires buy-in and focus from a number of different government departments and stakeholders. To ensure that this happens, the Prime Minister is both the public and private face of the project. He has attended community meetings, raised financial support from the private sector, and made numerous domestic and international speeches on the importance of the project.

Regular stocktake meetings on progress cover every element of the project and are chaired by the Prime Minister himself. He owns the detail and delivery as much as he owns the vision and ambition.

Just one year into implementation, the project has already shown some early progress: two parks have been renovated, the construction of the largest new park is 80% complete, and crime rates have gone down in the zone.

Over-the-Hill district suffers from a lack of infrastructure and basic utilities

Source: The Over-the-Hill White Paper (The Over-the-Hill district is comprised of three main areas - Baintown, Centreville and Grants Town)
“We can transform our inner-city communities in ways only dreamt about. I lead a Government that will continue to provide incentives to residents and businesses who participate in meaningful ways in our community revitalization programme. If we are to change their lives, we must first start by changing their environment. Together, we will build a better, brighter Bahamas for all.”

The Hon. Dr. Hubert A. Minnis

3. Sustainability

Sustainability

3. Sustainability

Sustainability

With the human population now standing at 7.7 billion, the need to feed, clothe, house and provide energy to everyone has stretched the world’s natural resources.

Every government has to balance the needs of today’s citizens against those of future generations. This tradeoff is most visible on issues of the environment and climate change, where protecting the future requires shared sacrifice in the present.

Leaders and policy makers are increasingly cognisant of this challenge. A scientific consensus produced the Paris Climate Agreement, but the issue has now found its way into the political mainstream. Public opinion on climate is evolving toward greater awareness as the effects of climate change hit closer to home. And citizens are starting to care much more about environmental issues that affect them every day, like air pollution, waste and recycling.

Citizens expect their governments to take action and lead, but to do so while preserving prosperity and improving equity. The challenge for leaders is how to embed sustainability into the whole of government, implement policies that are equal to the scale of the challenge, and achieve tangible results that benefit everyone, both today and in the future.

Citizens believe global temperatures will increase

Ipsos MORI asked over 20,000 adults in 31 countries about their predictions for 2019, including their views on whether global temperatures would increase. On average 78% thought it was likely, up from 71% the previous year.

"For each of the following, please tell me how likely or unlikely you think they are to happen. Average global temperatures will increase…"

Source: Ipsos MORI Global Advisor Wave predictions survey for 2019. Base: 21,141 adults aged 16-64. The survey was conducted in 31 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panelsystem. In total 21,141 interviews were conducted between 21 December – 9 January among adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries.

3.1 Shorten timescales and define focus

Shorten timescales and define focus

3.1 Shorten timescales and define focus

Shorten timescales and define focus

A generational issue like climate change can feel less immediate for leaders, less personal for voters, and more overwhelming for both. But the science is clear and points to a closing window for action.

It is easier to commit to big targets over a long time frame - many governments have commitments to 2040 or 2050 climate goals - but it is harder to know where to start in the short term. Developing a sense of urgency is difficult when the deadline is decades away.

The remedy is to make the deadline and the focus more immediate. In the field of sustainability, this means setting short-term trajectories toward longer-term targets and connecting the work to more immediate issues like public health, resilience, public transport investment and economic stability.

Case Study

Recognising that cities account for more than 70% of global carbon emissions, the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge was formed with an investment of $70 million to enhance the work already being done by mayors across the U.S. and support cities in their efforts to tackle climate change.

The project supports the work of 25 American cities and is purposefully structured as an accelerated two-year project with a 2020 target date to encourage urgency, pace and immediate implementation. It encourages focus by taking the global ambition to city level and supporting practical and innovative schemes in two of the sectors with the highest sources of emissions: buildings and transport.

The 25 winning cities were chosen for their innovative, results-focused and high-impact plans that not only reduce emissions but also improve the lives of citizens through investments in public health, economic development, and quality of life.

These inlcude:

Albuquerque - will develop a solar energy field to service the City of Albuquerque government operations and work towards 100% energy use from renewable resources by 2030.

Honolulu - plans include opening the first 10 miles of a 21 mile automated electric rail transit system in Honolulu, creating an emission-free transportation zone along one of the state’s most congested highway corridors, and increasing bike share, micromobility, and electric bus connections along the route.

Saint Paul - investment in 35 electric vehicle charging hubs, with the aim to bring 90% of residents within a 10-minute walk of 4 humanpowered, electric, or low-carbon mobility options by 2025.

Cincinnati - installation of a large-scale renewable generation to power municipal operations.

Chicago - will provide updated training to all building inspectors to better enforce the energy code and are redesigning certain intersections and pinch points for high priority bus corridors.

We are committed to building a 21st-century global community that works for all of us. We are excited to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge to expand our capacity for cleaner, more cost-effective energy and transportation solutions that benefit our city and region.

Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter

3.2 Find new ways to change old behaviours

Find new ways to change old behaviours

3.2 Find new ways to change old behaviours

Find new ways to change old behaviours

A sustainable world depends not just on government action, but also on large-scale behavioural change by citizens. This is particularly true in the choices people make around waste disposal, energy use, and transport.

Governments and leaders around the world are increasingly looking at innovative ways to achieve this kind of change, using a combination of incentives and behavioral nudges to help citizens improve their own lives.

Case Study

In New South Wales, the Premier has identified ‘Keeping our environment clean’ as one of the key priorities. Litter was having a harmful impact on waterways and ecosystems and citizen feedback highlighted it as a key concern, with research showing 90 per cent of NSW residents thought it was an important issue facing the state.

The Premier set an ambitious target to reduce litter volumes by 40% by 2020 - an achievable but ambitious goal.

One of the programs the Government introduced to help achieve that target is the 'Return and Earn' container deposit scheme. Through the scheme, citizens are able to return drink containers at hundreds of sites across the state and collect a 10-cent refund per container.

Within its first year of operation, 1 billion eligible beverage containers were collected through 'Return and Earn', with 90 per cent of users saying they would use it again and 81 per cent indicating they would recommend it to others.

The latest 2017-18 data shows that NSW is well on track to achieve the Premier’s target with the volume of litter in the environment down 37 per cent since 2013-14.

Similarly, in Durham North Carolina, the city has received a $1 million grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ U.S. Mayors Challenge for their innovative idea to use behavioural change and incentive schemes to shift attitudes towards driving.

The funds will be used over the next three years to try to reduce downtown solo driving by five per cent across the city population. Durham’s aim is to alleviate an immediate issue of parking capacity, but it will also have wider environmental and social impacts – in particular, reducing congestion and emissions and improving air quality

City leaders have prioritised understanding the underlying behaviours of commuters and the motivating factors for change, as well as the support and information needed to shift choices. By working with the Centre for Advanced Hindsight, a behavioural economics research institute from Duke University, the team are testing a range of ways to motivate commuters away from single occupancy vehicles. These include a lottery to win a prize for catching the bus into the city, carpooling solutions, varying parking pricing structures and personalised trip planning.

During the pilot, the team saw a 19% increase in people reporting use of an alternative mode of transport at least once in the 5 week study period through combining a personalised route planning tool with a weekly free bus-pass lottery.

NSW set an ambitious target to reduce litter volumes by 40%

Source: Keep Australia Beautiful, National Litter Index
Reducing litter is a key part of keeping our environment clean. Littering impacts all of us, it harms our natural environment and reduces the amenity of our communities.

NSW Premier’s Priorities

4. Technology

4. Technology

Technology is changing every aspect of public and private life. From drones delivering vaccines in rural Africa to mobile applications that allow instant access to services, technology has the potential to transform the way governments deliver for citizens.

However, technology also disrupts. The concerns are real – in particular, the impact on privacy, security, and automation of the workforce creates a new set of problems for government to solve. Ironically, government must become more adept at using technology to confront these challenges well. In particular, real-time data and insight about the experiences of citizens is a critical asset that is worth public investment.

Used well, technology can help a government to know its own impact.

Trust and knowledge on governments' use of data is low

In most of the countries that Ipsos surveyed, citizens tended not to trust companies and governments to use the information they have about them “in the right way”. On average, only a minority of citizens trust their national government (39%) with their personal data. In addition, most adults surveyed across the world knew little or nothing about how much personal data governments hold and how they use it.

"To what extent, if at all, do you personally trust the following to use the information they have about you in the right way?"

Source: Ipsos-World Economic Forum Survey: Global Citizens & Data Privacy 2019. Base: 18,813 adults aged 16-64 across Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile,  France,Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United States. October-November 2018

"Generally speaking, how much do you know about each of the following…"

Source: Ipsos-World Economic Forum Survey: Global Citizens & Data Privacy 2019. Base: 17,304 adults aged 16-64, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United States. October-November 2018.

4.1 Use tech as a two-way tool

Use tech as a two-way tool

4.1 Use tech as a two-way tool

Use tech as a two-way tool

Citizens are already seeing the digitisation of increasing numbers of public services, from filing taxes online to apps for tracking government data in real time. This is making access to services easier, cheaper and quicker.

However, the potential goes beyond treating citizens as passive recipients of services. The real opportunity is in transforming their relationship with government altogether.

Using technology to create a genuine two-way dialogue with citizens will allow for more user-centred programme design and better outcomes. Just as important, it will also build a new partnership between governments and the citizens they serve – one that could be characterised by trust, responsiveness, and mutual respect.

Case Study

In Mexico, the city of Guadalajara struggled with a corrupt planning and permitting system. Previously, permits had been given on a discretionary basis for the ownership of land and construction of buildings. This had inevitably led to favouritism, a lack of transparency for citizens and a haphazard approach to economic and urban development.

Guadalajara created a project to overhaul the system and make it completely digital in order to prioritise transparency and engage citizens as watchdogs for the process. . Their idea won the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2016 Mayors Challenge and prize money of $1million to develop the concept.

The new online system not only allows companies to get licenses in a faster, easier and fairer way, but also gives citizens a powerful online tool to check and participate in city development and land-use decisions. The aim of the reform is not only to improve the system but to demonstrate that public interests prevail over private ones.

The city passed a critical reform to enable online licensing and launched its pilot website in September 2017. By December 2018, 60% of land use certificates and 40% of commercial licenses were processed online, with clear targets to increase this further over the next year. Processing times for licensing procedures were dramatically reduced from weeks to minutes, so in addition to citizen engagement and trust improvement, the new system has provided better conditions for businesses to flourish, with far-reaching consequences for economic development and urban development. It is a win-win for government and citizens.

The online platform, Visor Urbano, has earned the country’s national transparency award in recognition of the improvement in citizens’ view of a key government system. Guadalajara’s innovation is now also being replicated and adapted in six other cities across Mexico.

Source: Screenshots of Visor Urbano
"This platform will help identify and substantiate actions to respond to the real needs of the city by applying quality standards, better practices, and law enforcement in urban development."

Mario Arauz, Innovation Office Director

4.2 Be creative

Be creative

4.2 Be creative

Be creative

The tools of delivery have to evolve and adapt to specific circumstances. This is particularly true for the technology used to collect and verify data: a method that works for monitoring traffic safety in an American city will likely be very different from the you use to measure vaccination rates in rural Asia.

Policymakers need to be cognisant of the practicalities and challenges on the ground and identify the most appropriate technology to generate robust and reliable information. At the current rate of technological progress, there is always room to innovate.

Case Study

Between 2010-2018, the provincial Government of Punjab, Pakistan revolutionised the use of low-cost technology to drive change.

The Punjab Information Technology Board on behalf of the Government introduced a monthly test called the Literacy and Numeracy Drive (LND) - a student assessment to check teaching quality. The challenge was how to collect the test answers from 230,000+ students in schools spread across the region – and to do it impartially and rapidly.

To address this, the LND was designed as a tablet-based test and over 1000 ex-army officers were recruited to collect the data from schools. These field monitors, known as Monitoring and Evaluation Assistants (MEAs), travelled throughout the districts on motorbikes, using tablets to record both the results of the LND test as well as general observations of schools, supported by geo-tagged pictures. As a result, student outcomes were not just tracked but were improved - in April 2017, students were achieving a score of 78%, and by February 2018, this had increased to 90%.

The team also used a variety of different technology interventions to reform the solid waste sector - a key area of concern for health and the environment in Punjab’s cities. To monitor and improve the performance of the private contractors responsible for the sector, all rubbish trucks were fitted with GPS trackers and 13,000 waste containers across the cities were individually geo-tagged. This allowed the central team to check and track movements in real time. Weighbridges, which check the load of the trucks, also started using radio frequency identification to give further insight and real-time data. In addition, the MEA model was replicated, with field monitors randomly visiting public spaces and uploading cleanliness scores using an application on their smartphone.

Learning from the field and iterating the tools was also necessary. Worker attendance had been tracked in waste management facilities through geo-tagged pictures taken on supervisors' smartphone apps. After evidence showed that some people were falsifying records, the team adapted the tracking to use retina scanning.

As a result of these interventions, cleanliness numbers went up by ~8% on average between 2017 and 2018, and citizen satisfaction improved.

4.3 Drive routines with data

Drive routines with data

4.3 Drive routines with data

Drive routines with data

Data is the backbone of delivery - without it, the gap between policy and implementation will only grow. But merely having the data is not enough - it must be interrogated, visualised, and mined for insights that will drive real action.

Systematic, habitual routines to review progress with top leaders are the engine of government delivery, and good data needs to be at the heart of these. Good routines without data are directionless; conversely, data without routines are powerless. But the combination of the two can be transformative.

Case Study

The Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge has a daunting data challenge: how to combine the targets, trajectories and progress of 25 different cities across America in reducing carbon emissions, with monitoring across nearly 200 projects and dozens of data systems.

To solve this problem, the team has designed and established a central dashboard with a simple user interface for both entering data and viewing the results. It provides real-time information about the progress of the project as a whole and detail on implementation in every city.

The dashboard is available to everyone participating on the project, from city staff to mayors and Bloomberg Philanthropies leadership. It serves as the basis for routine dialogue on progress at multiple levels within cities and across them.

How you present your data really matters especially for complex projects and senior leaders who have little time. The right design will make data easy to understand and allow viewers to draw the right insights for decision-making.

Conclusion

Conclusion

These stories remind us that, even in uncertain times, there are leaders and public servants around the world embracing new approaches and stepping up to make a difference for the citizens they serve.

These leaders have kept the moral purpose of government in mind. And they are keenly aware of the potential that well designed and implemented public policy has to make life better for everyone.

At first glance, the themes explored here – trust, demographics, sustainability, and technology – can appear intractable for government. But these stories remind us that old insights can help solve new problems. The fundamental values of delivery – focusing on outcomes for citizens, planning for impact, and adjusting rapidly as the data comes in – remain universal even as the world changes.

Uncertainty can be unsettling, but it need not paralyze us. These stories give us hope for what is possible if we see the opportunity in the challenge.

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