These basic management issues need to be tackled now. The time has come to stop commissioning reports from consultants. Reform must begin. To fix the issues will take time and resources. The problems have developed over years, and a four or five year period is needed to remedy the situation.
The Government will be assisted in this task by the goodwill and talent of the public service's leaders and its employees. In the past, many dedicated people have worked to deliver services by navigating through and around cumbersome structures and unnecessary barriers. They have made do with poor data, unclear reporting lines and ineffective systems. They are, in general, keen to be part of the solution. In particular, Directors General and CEOs will welcome the new imperative to fix these problems.
It is important to recognise that the problems are not only with systems and processes. They also stem from a culture of risk aversion, insularity, adherence to procedure and powerlessness, even defeatism that has built up over time. The Government has made the right start by legislating a set of values – integrity, trust, service and accountability – and emphasising the value of the public service. Now what are needed are consistent messages that the Government is serious about this; and then a continued effort to give public sector workers the tools they need and to remove the barriers in their way.