How can we make it easier for people to understand and provide feedback on government policies and programs?

What’s the problem?

From a service delivery point of view, many government agencies take “customer-satisfaction” seriously, using feedback to identify areas for improvement within its systems.

Alt text However, this doesn’t necessarily inform policy. Collecting real time data on policy implementation and providing real time information to citizens in a meaningful way is challenging. And collecting feedback is one thing. Doing something with it is another. Feedback is only useful if it is then translated in to an adaptive response. This isn’t a panacea. There are challenges involved in citizen participation and engagement on policy. It is important to find ways to interpret and balance feedback, including finding ways to analyse and weigh different stakeholder views and ensure adequate representation.

These challenges aren’t a good enough reason not to better include citizens in decision making processes, especially when there feedback can help make implementation better.

Seven things you need to know

  • Australia’s public sector is highly effective compared with similar nations. The World Bank’s measurement of government effectiveness places Australia as ninth most effective amongst OECD nations in 2010.

  • This doesn’t mean that no improvements can be made to public sector efficiency. Further public sector efficiency improvements should be continually sought in order to ensure the most possible public value is gained from public funds.

  • The annual Report on Government Services (RoGS) by the Productivity Commission provides information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia. The 2016 report covers services totally $192 billion, 2/3 of all recurring government expenditure.

  • The Commonwealth Government currently includes 209 organisations – 18 Departments and 191 Agencies.

  • These organisations administer approximately 85000 regulations across their portfolios.

  • Between 1990 and 2013, the Commonwealth Parliament created an average of 170 new Acts of Parliament each year.

  • Collectively, the annual cost of complying with Commonwealth rules and regulations was estimated to be around $65 billion as at 3 October 2013.

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