• 04-JUN-2013

Future of Government: PwC report challenges public leaders to act differently in order to gain public trust in a more collaborative style of government

Future of Government
Public sector organisations around the world face a stark challenge: adjust to the reality of 'doing more for less' – or even 'doing less for less' – whilst focusing on what society needs and wants, and doing all this at a time of seismic changes.

The new normal is for governments and public sector organisations to deal with uncertainty while delivering services that are affordable, all set in the context of deficit-reducing budget cuts.

The new PwC Future of Government report looks at developments over the last six years, with governments struggling to keep pace with changing expectations and rapid advances in new technology – with the backdrop of funds for investment in public services often drying up.

Says Jan Sturesson, PwC's Global Leader, Government and Public Services:

"In our view, tomorrow's public body will need to act quite differently; more like a living organism, adapting to change, creating prototypes and evolving to address society's needs as they develop. Government and public sector leaders have a key role in this shift, re-focusing their organisations on their changed environments and projecting a clear and vibrant picture for the future.

"One big challenge is to find new ways of how to lead strategic collaborations and partnerships with stakeholders from other sectors of society. We think terms like 'in-between space leaders' and 'interface management' are crucial for the future to make things happen."

So how can this vision be delivered? First, the organisations must view themselves through three different lenses that guide their behaviour:

Citizen-centricity: meeting citizen needs effectively, affordably and in a timely manner
Internal/external balance: getting the right balance between managing internal organisational efficiency/effectiveness, and externally delivering 'good growth'
Sustainable outcomes: strategically building the assets for society by managing the 'capitals' needed for long-term prosperity – such as social, environmental, cultural etc.
In addition, there are four key characteristics that the leading public sector body of the future must exhibit. These will influence the behaviour needed to deliver the outcomes and impacts:
Agile: ready to anticipate situations, and adapt and react to unforeseen events in a speedy and cost-effective manner
Innovative: capable of incubating ideas and delivery models, accelerating their impact
Connected: collaborating across sectors/borders/organisations to give service delivery through partnerships/co-ventures/co-creation/co-design
Transparent: being truly accountable for actions and outcomes, in today's era of eroding trust and legitimacy.

Crucially, the PwC report calls for public bodies to behave differently from the past and to be equipped with the internal management capabilities needed to channel resources effectively and efficiently towards achieving the vision.

Concludes Jan Sturesson:

"We do not underestimate the scale of the transition needed, particularly for those with thousands of staff. Making change happen will require agile, inspirational leadership and a talent strategy which majors on attracting, developing and retaining people with the necessary attitudes and behaviours.

"It will require both politicians and officials holding their nerve as they make the transition from old-style static, bureaucratic organisations to dynamic, adaptive entities capable of responding calmly but effectively to disruptive events and rising to new challenges."