Amid tighter budgets, governments are mulling ways to maintain or even improve public service outcomes at reduced costs. Evidence shows that citizen engagement and expertise guidance are very effective in helping citizens set their own goals and manage their own care and education. Empowered citizens are valuable collaborators with the state in achieving positive service outcomes.
Tighter state budgets have led to cuts in resources for public services. So, what should governments do to maintain, or even improve, service outcomes at reduced costs?
By analysing the experience and practices of service users and staff, it appears that the overall service quality can be improved when users and staff co-create positive outcomes. This requires mechanisms to effectively engage with users. Keeping them out of your overloaded services can have a detrimental effect on outcomes.
Rethink citizen relationship
Schools, hospitals and prisons efficiently deliver public services at scale. However, these organisations are reaching their limits to further improve outcomes for their users. After people go home, it becomes challenging to ensure that learning, health or rehabilitation continues when they are on their own. Therefore, providers of public services need to rethink their relationship with citizens.
Succeed on their own
After we as citizens ‘go home’, it becomes our own responsibility to continue learning or stay healthy. There are limits as to how much the state can do to direct or manage what we do ‘at home’, let alone the effectiveness. How can governments empower people to succeed on their own?
Be a platform of empowerment
Public service providers have good knowledge of people’s struggles and what success factors are. Therefore, they are in a good position to guide people with tools and support. For instance, by asking “What is a healthy lifestyle for people with diabetes?” these providers are turning themselves into a platform that empowers diabetic individuals to develop a healthy lifestyle on their own.
Collaborative public services
A key benefit of collaborative public services is that people are taking more responsibility for their own outcomes. To collaborate is to engage with citizens effectively. Evidence shows that empowering individuals to set their own goals and to manage their own care has a positive effect.
Put citizens at the heart of services
When people are given more control over how they use public services, they tend to be more conscious of not wasting resources and use only the services that add value to them. To support people in creating their own positive outcomes, public service providers need to share their goals with citizens and engage with them in a meaningful way.