Citizens at the heart of government

Citizens at the heart of government

Government services operate in a complex tension between politics and the agencies that deliver services to citizens. The challenge grows as public services come under pressure to reduce costs. At the same time people’s expectations to service quality rise as they compare public services with the experiences they have in the private sector. These opposing forces call for innovative thinking in the bureaucracy.

Deep understanding of citizen’s needs and behaviors is a key to turning pressure into an opportunity to do things differently and better.  Engaging citizens creatively in solving challenges can inform policymakers at an early stage about what will make the biggest difference to people’s everyday lives. This helps to reduce barriers to change, and drive more accurate implementation of policy.

To progress effectively government services need to do two things. Policymaking needs to get closer to reality. Policy should be tested on a small scale with citizens. Service pilots can prove the value of policy concepts with limited risk. Secondly, delivery agencies can better inform policy making. This can be achieved by being more proactive about the design of their services and by presenting options that generate valuable knowledge to help to re-shape policy. Ultimately, it’s all about putting the citizen at the heart of what government is supposed to do.