Proposed governance model

Proposed governance model

Last in a series of 4: finally, the solution to the governance problem. Here it is – to the right.

As I discussed previously, Web 2.0 enhances the social learning and networked goverance, yet causes friction with the prevailing governance model which is currently dominated by the New Public Management paradigm of performance measurement, reporting, controls, audits. It can’t continue.

I propose two things:

1) Out with New Public Management, In with Public Value Management

2) Complement governance with Social learning and Networked governance, and support it with Innovative drivers (like Web 2.0).

Before I go into them, I repeat a point I subtly made in my last entry:

Web 2.0 isn’t actually what we need – It’s the mechanisms that Web 2.0 facilitates, which are Social Learning andNetworked Governance.

Web 2.0 has helped public servants better collaborate and connect with each other, and adapt to changes. Public servants need to learn and connect. Why can’t they? It threatens the governance model. So, new management paradigm, followed by a sustainable use of technology.

#1: what is up with Public Value Management?

“Public Value Management approaches give public service managers a capacity to shape policy and ‘a degree of autonomy and entrepreneurialism that is not typical of public servants in Westminster systems’, and does not sit comfortably in those systems…as does its insistence that these are also part of the public’s interest in public service decision making”

-(p.124) MacDermott, Kathy “Whatever Happened to Frank and Fearless?“, ANU E Press, (July 2008)

Public Value Management makes sense. Although it’s not perfect – it’s also not meant to be. When it was first proposed as a new governance model in 1995, it was presented as supportive of public involvement – by the public and  also to the public. It would place on public managers a “duty to engage with their political environment” of the citizenry, where otherwise public servants were kept anonymous, behind the responsible deputy minister and their accountable counterpart, the cabinet minister.

Uh-oh – you read “political environment” and cringed. I know. But hasn’t that been the problem? Public servants are surrounded by politics, but must remain anonymous with their work (even with each other), cover their ears to the discussions, and entirely separated from the public. Public Value Management can work with the politics, to improve the programs.

“Public Value Management does not suggest that public servants should engage in partisan politics [but instead ought to] confine themselves to what might be called ‘program politics’, [so as] not to encroach on party politics [acknowledging] the political environment as the overriding  governor or limit on the autonomy of the public manager”

(p.134) Alford, John and Owen Hughes “Public Value Pragmatism as the Next Phase of Public Management”, The American Review of Public Administration, Vol.38, Issue 2 (June 2008)

I see this as empowering the public service, with allowances and responsibilities on the public servant to find solutions on their own in ways acceptable to the “political overseers”, playing a more ‘entrepreneurial role’ in finding solutions and getting information. Add a dash of Web 2.0, cook to simmer, and voila, you have an engaged, connected, dynamic public servant.

PVM forges a new deal with an already-engaged public, and redefines the work of government as more collaborative and open to “public experience and expertise…[as it provides] the crucial linchpin between the more collective and collaborative governance mindsets of Stoker’s public value management and Paquet’s social learning on the one hand, and contemporary determinations of trust built less upon deference to authority and office than direct engagement and dialogue” (p. 111) United Nations E-Government Survey 2008“ United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Public Administration and Development Management, 2008. Accessed April 11, 2009.

As I said, PVM isn’t perfect. But then again neither is New Public Management and its management frameworks, report cards and performance reviews, reinforced with silos, secrecy, anonymity and exclusive policy domains. The public service needs to get back to basics and focus on value. But this is what I propose, and I really do think it’s the answer. In fact…we may already be seeing it in action – in the United States.

Very recently the United States government made explicit their support and plans for “Transparency and Open Government”, linking transparency with accountability, participatory government with involvement by public servants, and collaborative government with innovation. I read this and say “this is Public Value Management”. “Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government…and solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation (Memorandum for the Heads Of Executive Departments and Agencies – Transparency and Open Government“ United States Government, The White House – Press Office, March 9, 2009)“.  Not being transparent as a matter of measure (as it would be under NPM), but as a matter of value – not only to engage, but to involve. The politics are elaborated by the top, and the public is involved to enact. That’s public value management.

#2 Governance + Social learning + Networked governance + Innovative drivers

Alright, super. We have Public Value Management. Doug says it has to do with involving the public. Super. What else?

The next thing is to support Social learning & Networked governance. Explicitly – in the model. No longer can all of the public service be defined as governance with control & measures, procedures & consequences, it doesn’t work. The public service becomes a learning organisation, as it was envisaged to be in the mid-90′s, and a networked organisation, (as it always thought it was but kept restricting).

Alright, so there’s Governance, Social learning and Networked Governance. Where’s Web 2.0? Web 2.0 is absorbed into the “Innovative Drivers” box because in such a model, the disruptive effect of Web 2.0 is reduced, however it would still contribute in other ways to supporting Social learning and Networked governance, each now with more significant influence. Web 2.0 be a specific class of offerings that contribute to an umbrella of Innovative drivers, which are technology that support Social learning and Networked governance to further support public servants.

There is a tangential relationship between governance and “Innovative drivers”. With technology changing so fast and Governance always having many priorities, these two items being tangential helps create the least overlap as possible. This same reference doesn’t apply for the tangential relationship between Social learning and Networked governance, as they most certainly do overlap. As Social learning and Networked governance have their own areas balancing each other underneath, and ideally it is public servants who need to make decisions about their tool development, with Governance involved in providing the resources for the public servant to attain the tool.

#3 – there is no #3.

That’s it. My solution for the government to be more effective, more efficient. That’s what public servants want too, right?

I should point out this pertains most specifically to how government works internally. I admit, I’m not sure how it would apply to government externally – how it relates to the public (or how the public relates to it), but that’s an entirely different matter. If you want to sell a good product, you need to have a good product, and this is about fixing the government from the inside.