The impact of government programmes is becoming increasingly important to citizens. To support policy makers in developing effective and efficient rollouts of programmes and help them deliver better outcomes for citizens around the world, the Boston Consulting Group has recently launched a not-for-profit Centre for Public Impact.
It is a common adage that governments have difficulties implementing their programmes. Although in certain circles it is somewhat more strongly stated. One of the greatest challenges for the 21st century is improving the impact of government programmes – although as the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) notes, there are examples of governments with best practice.
To examine the level of impact governments and their civil servants believe they have with respect to policy implementations, BCG interviewed senior government figures around the world. The general consensus of the 1,000 public officials interviewed, is that there is room for improvement in how governments achieve impact, agreed on by 92%. In addition, nearly half agrees that governments are ineffective in implementation.
The “impact imperative”
Since the financial crisis many governments have been under stress from multiple sources. They have to deal with a strong reduction of available funds and deficit reduction proposals which are under fierce public, political, and media scrutiny. At the same time there is a demand for transparency and open government, with the public expecting government officials and institutions to be transparent and accountable for what they do. Another expectation is that governments use taxpayer funds effectively and efficiently. Poorly thought-out or rolled out pieces of public policy whose implementation goes awry can lead to a negative image of government among its citizens.
Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Public shows that public confidence in national governments declined from an average of 45% in 2007 to 40% in 2012. This distrust has as a consequence a disengagement with the political process and thereby a weakening of the democratic process. According to BCG, the long term consequence of “these developments have resulted in what we refer to as the “impact imperative.” If performance does not improve, governments face a future of increasing fiscal stress, rising scrutiny, and declining legitimacy and public trust.”
The Centre for Public Impact
BCG does cite examples of good public administration, with New Zealand and Scandinavian countries as examples. What they do right, or even whether it is possible to replicate their example, is however not always clear. To gain clarity on this issue, as well as wider issues facing public officials in changing economic and social times, BCG launched its “Centre for Public Impact”. This not-for-profit global foundation is “dedicated to improving the positive impact of governments.” It aims to do so through “bring together world leaders to learn, exchange ideas, and inspire each other to achieve better outcomes for citizens.”
The centre will be overseen by a board of trustees which include Hans-Paul Bürkner, the Chairman of BCG and Sir Michael Barber, the former head of the UK Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit. Adrian Brown, who has been appointed the Executive Director of Centre for Public Impact, remarks, “We believe that improving the impact of government is one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century. At the Centre for Public Impact, we look forward to playing our part in bringing this issue to the fore and helping policy makers deliver better outcomes for citizens around the world.”
Bruce Henderson Institute
Earlier this year BCG also launched the Bruce Henderson Institute, a unit dedicated to developing pioneering new ideas and approaches to solving business challenges.