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Putting Citizens First

Putting Citizens First: Engagement in Policy and Service Delivery for the 21st Century OPEN ACCESS

Evert A. Lindquist
Sam Vincent
John Wanna
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt4cg5sm
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  • Book Info
    Putting Citizens First
    Book Description:

    This book explores the ways in which governments are putting citizens first in their policy-making endeavours. Making citizens the focus of policy interventions and involving them in the delivery and design is for many governments a normative ideal; it is a worthy objective and sounds easy to achieve. But the reality is that putting citizens at the centre of policy-making is hard and confronting. Are governments really serious in their ambitions to put citizens first? Are they prepared for the challenges and demands such an approach will demand? Are they prepared to commit the time and resources to ensure genuine engagement takes place and that citizens’ interests are considered foremost? And, more importantly, are governments prepared for the trade-offs, risks and loss of control such citizen-centric approaches will inevitably involve? The book is divided into five parts: - setting the scene: The evolving landscape for citizen engagement - drivers for change: Innovations in citizen-centric governance - case studies in land management and Indigenous empowerment - case studies in fostering community engagement and connectedness - case studies engaging with information technology and new media. While some chapters question how far governments can go in engaging with citizens, many point to successful examples of actual engagement that enhanced policy experiences and improved service delivery. The various authors make clear that citizen engagement is not restricted to the domain of service delivery, but if taken seriously affects the ways governments conduct their activities across all agencies. The implications are enormous, but the benefits to public policy may be enormous too.

    eISBN: 978-1-922144-34-8
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword (pp. xi-xiv)
    Allan Fels

    This volume of essays brings together leading academics and practitioners from Australia, New Zealand and beyond to express current developments and explore future directions in citizen-focused government. Drawing on their varied research and experience on the ground, experts in the field — often with international backgrounds — use their contributions to explore actual experiences and applications.

    Since the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) series began in 2005 it has focused on providing thought-provoking, relevant and practical content and pushing agendas pursued by governments both here and overseas. The 2011 edition is no exception. Several major themes underpin this volume...

  2. Evert Lindquist

    During the late 2000s the theme of ‘citizen-oriented government’ steadily rose to the top of the public management agenda (OECD 2009). Governments at all levels have declared their interest in finding better ways to respond to and serve citizens and communities through better-designed programs and consultative processes (Advisory Group on the Reform of Australian Government Administration 2010; Bourgon 2011). For many, the theme of ‘putting citizens first’ is a natural extension of the new public management (NPM) initiatives, which sought to better serve citizens as clients and customers, leading to experimentation and institutionalisation of integrated service delivery and innovations such...

  3. Part I. Setting the Scene:: The evolving landscape for citizen engagement
    • Gerry Stoker

      In this chapter I want to explore six topics. First, to recognise that with much of the discussion concerning ‘putting citizens first’ and embracing more meaningful forms of democracy, there is an inherent normative and developmental dimension. For me, the topic of citizen engagement is framed in the context of a significant scale of ‘anti-politics’ in the popular culture of many countries. Turning to solutions to this issue, I next argue the need to recognise that there is no such thing as an ‘average citizen’, and that we need to develop audits and tools that are capable of embracing the...

    • Don Kettl

      On a previous trip to Australia, some 15 years ago, I had a conversation with academics and practitioners about the idea of putting citizens at the centre of policy-making processes. This topic frames my contribution to this volume of essays. Are governments really ready to let go of their hold on the policymaking process? The simple answer is ‘no’. The bigger problem is whether citizens are ready to step up — and the answer to that question is ‘maybe’.

      There is a transformation currently underway which will bring citizens into the decision-making process and adjust to the realities of governance in...

    • Rolf Alter

      Whether governments connect with their citizens and how they do so is, as it has been in the past, a prominent subject in the public governance debate across the group of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations. The 2011 Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) national conference on ‘Putting Citizens First: Engagement in Policy and Service Delivery for the 21st Century’ is a prominent example of taking a fresh look at a known subject. Answering the question of why there is such renewed interest requires consideration of several issues.

      Previous arguments and discussions around ‘citizens first’,...

  4. Part II. Drivers for Change:: Innovations in citizen-centric governance
    • Christian Bason

      In this chapter I will clarify various ways of engaging with citizens and involving them in the processes of policy-making. I would also like to encourage us, as policy actors, to be more conscious about using citizen engagement to reorient what we do to better meet citizens’ expectations as well as capture the benefits from inputs of other important actors and stakeholders. The perspective I bring to this contribution is to ask: how can we really engage citizens to drive innovation in policies and services, and help us to produce better outcomes.

      As an important backdrop to our discussion, we...

    • John Alford

      Much of this volume concerns the involvement of citizens in deciding what to do or how to do it, principally through what I call the ‘co’s’ — consultation, co-deliberation and co-design. The assumption is that a particular service will be delivered to citizens by government. Co-production, the subject of this chapter, takes the process further by having citizens take part in producing the service. This is a fundamental difference, and it is gaining popularity among governments around the world. On balance, I think that this is a good thing.

      I find, however, that alongside this flourishing interest in the idea of...

    • Lynelle Briggs

      In this chapter I will explore the shift to ‘citizen-centred service delivery models’ in the Australian Public Service (APS) and touch on some of the associated theories and international developments. In doing so, there are a couple of key questions we need to consider. The first is how are we changing the way we engage with citizens? And secondly, is what we are doing enough? It is also important to consider the key opportunities for, and challenges to, realising truly people-centred services: it is not only necessary to raise the standards of government interactions with the community, but also to...

    • Bette-Jo Hughes

      On behalf of my colleagues in Canada, I am honoured to use my contribution to this volume as an opportunity to explore the work that we are doing in the field of citizen-centred service delivery. Australia and New Zealand are similar to Canada in many ways, and I think each country can learn from the other.

      In reading Staying Ahead of the Game, the Australian Government’s 2010 reform white paper for its federal public service, it strikes me that we could replace the country names and the document would be just as valid in Canada, as we are focused on...

    • Martin Stewart-Weeks

      What I intend to do in this chapter is briefly outline how we are starting to reshape and recast our conversations with citizens by using new technologies, and how this process is not only getting richer by the moment, but is often being driven not from within but from outside of the government.

      First though, allow me to provide some background context. The head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Terry Moran said recently that, ‘our processes should allow the community to provide input throughout the policy and service delivery process. Information technology can play a crucial role...

  5. Part III. Case Studies:: Land management and Indigenous empowerment
    • Jenny Pequignot

      The singer Paul Kelly’s iconic song ‘From little things, big things grow’ is one of my favourite songs and, I believe, the perfect soundtrack for Landcare — a once little organisation of negligible significance that has grown to be a big one with wide-ranging influence. Landcare, a partnership between government (where I work) and landholders with its origins in Victoria, is the focus of this chapter. The essay is thus about both regional and environmental issues and, in particular, the results of a recent information-gathering exercise.

      What is Landcare and how did it come about? Landcare is a collective of community-based...

    • Peter Houghton

      I have worked in the field of land and natural resource management for over 40 years and currently look after the State Reserves in New South Wales. I am currently co-producing service outcomes with local communities through the preparation of plans for the management of these public recreation reserves. My background is as a practitioner; and I have a wealth of experience working collaboratively with other public officers and co-producing services with members of the public. In my contribution to this volume I will outline the role of Crown lands in NSW and given examples of effective mobilisation of volunteers...

    • Mark Chmielewski

      I manage the Indigenous Landholders Service (ILS), a program within the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food. Though the department has been in existence for over 100 years, the ILS has only existed for 13 years. We work with Aboriginal landholders and the approach that we take is to primarily employ Indigenous Western Australians from the state’s remote communities, its pastoral industry, its agricultural industry and from within the state government itself. The current team is solid and has essentially been together for five years — a great retention rate.

      The Indigenous Landholders Service started 13 years ago at Noonkanbah...

    • Adrienne Gillam, Ian Mackie and Michael Hansen

      Adrienne Gillam: In examining improvements in Indigenous access I will discuss the Remote Service Delivery National Partnership Agreement, an initiative on which I have been working over the past couple of years. I will share with you some of the findings and lessons learned from this project, as well as outlining its aims and function. First though, I will provide some background to the initiative.

      In 2006, former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, threw out a challenge to Indigenous policy-makers and practitioners: if we were serious about improving Indigenous access and about citizen engagement with...

  6. Part IV. Case Studies:: Fostering community engagement and connectedness
    • Ang Bee Lian

      Whatever model of human service provision they subscribe to, governments around the world face the dual challenges of an ageing population and rising expectations from their citizens. Globalisation has added a new twist to this challenge. In many parts of the world, free trade and open markets are blamed for widening income inequality and median wage stagnation. In more recent years, inflation of five per cent has negated any productivity gains and created a widening income gap.

      Amidst this contemporary context, Singapore continues to pursue a policy of self-reliance-driven social inclusion. In Singapore, self-reliance is deemed to be the basis...

    • Yehudi Blacher

      I am currently the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Community Development in Victoria, but have previously been associated with many state government agencies, including the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Department of Human Services, and the Department for Victorian Communities.

      My contribution to this volume primarily concerns the use of surveys as part of a process of citizen engagement. I will illustrate this by focusing on two surveys and, then, put them in the broader context of the range of engagement processes that my department undertakes.

      I will begin, though, by setting some context for the department....

    • Shane Chisholm

      I have a background in and a passion for frontline engagement with citizens, so my contribution to this volume is operationally focused. Since 2009, I have been the Customer Service Manager for the Housing New Zealand Corporation. In this role I am responsible for the development of a national strategy and associated program of work to enhance the customer service provided by the Housing New Zealand Corporation. The program is focused on increasing the levels of both internal and external customer satisfaction.

      First though, what is the Housing New Zealand Corporation? As New Zealand has a long and proud history...

    • James Mowat, Jim Scully and David Sweeney

      James Mowat: In my contribution to this chapter I will discuss how a problematic institution for stakeholders and customers was turned, in the early 2000s, into what is today considered a model in the field of government regulation in New Zealand — Land Information New Zealand (LINZ). I will outline what the problems with LINZ were, how they were addressed through the involvement of customers and stakeholders and, finally, list the lessons learnt through this process. First, though, I will provide some context about what we do.

      LINZ manages eight per cent of New Zealand’s land, three million hectares of Crown...

    • Nicole Pietrucha and Jo Sammut

      Nicole Pietrucha: Much of this volume concerns engaging citizens through notions such as co-design and co-design practice. But, how do we actually build those frameworks and how do we think about this on the ground as a real practice? In my contribution I will attempt to answer some of these questions in relation to the work we are doing in the Commonwealth Department of Human Services (DHS) about building co-design capability.

      First though, I need to stress the fact that this work is in its infant stages. We started our project around June 2010, so, in fact, many of the...

    • Deb Symons

      In my contribution to this volume I will analyse Victoria’s approach to engaging with the communities affected by the 2009 ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires. In the aftermath of the bushfires, the approach was taken to put communities at the centre of planning and decision-making, and to work extensively with them to develop recovery plans and to include their input into local government plans for the future.

      Following the devastating bushfires in Victoria in February 2009, an unprecedented recovery effort was required and included the establishment of the Victoria Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority (VBRRA). The fires affected over 70 communities in...

  7. Part V. Case Studies:: Engaging with information technology and new media
    • Fiona Rafter

      My department, Queensland’s Department of Community Safety, is a merger of Emergency Services and the former Department of Corrective Services. The department includes Emergency Management Queensland and the Fire and Ambulance Service. In my contribution to this volume I will share what I believe to be a successful case of the use of social media for the purposes of community engagement, albeit set amidst the most devastating series of natural disasters to affect the state of Queensland. It has provided an opportunity for our department and government to rethink the way we engage with the public, build resilience in communities...

    • Mary Craig

      The phrase ‘tax policy’ does not usually elicit wild excitement in the general public. So, for fear of disengaging readers of this volume with a long presentation on a dry topic, my contribution will briefly use the field of tax policy to explore the new dimensions of community consultation. Together with Gail Kelly (Chapter 22), I will particularly explore the use of online forums for engaging citizens on tax policy. I am not, however, going to pretend that this is a transformational use of a piece of technology. I note that Martin Stewart-Weeks (Chapter 9) covers many of these aspects...

    • Gail Kelly

      What I am trying to convey in this chapter is that being a tax department, we in Inland Revenue in New Zealand are often bound by secrecy, legislation and risk-averse management, which makes our decision to seek feedback online a bold step for us.

      To date, we have undertaken three online consultations, each with different audiences. In 2009 we worked closely with those to whom we give student loans. As we offer 627,000 student loans, currently totalling $NZ10.8 billion, this represents a significant part of our business. Consequently, we wanted to look at ways that might help to reform and...