Improve Public Service Practice (AU0019)
Action Plan: Australia Action Plan 2018-2020
Action Plan Cycle: 2018
Lead Institution: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Support Institution(s): Department of Health. Department of Social Services. Department of Human Services. Department of Education and Training. Department of Jobs and Small Business. Department of Infrastructure. Regional Development and Cities. Australian Bureau of Statistics and relevant State and Territory Government agencies. Specific organisations not yet identified. but may include a cross section of Empowered Communities organisations. Logan Together community partners and Stronger Communities for Children facilitating partners. local citizens and local government representatives.
Policy AreasCapacity Building, Marginalized Communities
Improve public service practices using place-based approaches
Commitment Start and End Date
September 2078-August 2020
Lead implementing agency/actor
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
The problems present in the most disadvantaged locations across Australia are numerous and interrelated. and addressing them requires locally tailored. community based approaches (Australian Social Inclusion Board). The public service must have the authority, flexibility and capabilities to collaborate with different communities in different places to develop and implement different approaches.
A place-based approach recognises the impact of 'place· on individuals' experiences and outcomes and incorporates this recognition into strategies to improve social. economic and environmental outcomes. It embeds meaningful public and multi-stakeholder participation into the business of policy development and service delivery.
Too often. decisions are taken centrally without the engagement of local citizens. In addition. there can be unclear lines of accountability for delivery and quality of outcomes.
This commitment. focused on public sector improvement. will explore what changes to capabilities. planning, engagement. data sharing and implementation practice of the public service are required to support a place-centred approach. It will identify learning from place-based approaches already underway such as Cities Deals. Empowered Communities. Stronger Communities for Children and Logan Together and consider how to better enable citizen engagement and involvement in program design and delivery. The purpose of this commitment is to learn from place-based approaches that are already underway and explore how these learnings could be applied more broadly across the Com monwea Ith.
What is the commitment?
The Government will explore ways to encourage the application and broader adoption of place-based approaches across the public service. and provide recommendations for how the public service could apply a more place-centred. transformational and joined-up delivery approach to its work. This will be done by establishing mechanisms for the public service to learn from place-based approaches already underway, such as Cities Deals. and Empowered Communities. Stronger Communities for Children. and Logan Together. The learning focus will be on good practice and challenges in relation to delegation and accountability for local planning, engagement and service delivery to support place-based approaches and listening to the experiences of citizens
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
Our ambition is to design and promote a whole-of-government approach to learning from and applying place-based approaches. The adoption of place-centred approaches should contribute to the development of policy, implementation and service system responses that better take account of the needs and aspirations of citizens. deliver tangible outcomes. hold all stakeholders to account for their responsibilities and ensure that services are delivered in a way that meet the needs of the end user.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
This commitment will advance the OGP values of transparency, civic participation and public accountability by:
• facilitating informed public participation:
• improving policy development and service delivery: and
encouraging an ongoing sharing of information and views across the public service that builds consensus on broad policy directions
The work could draw on learnings from existing place-based approaches.
Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable
Finalise scope of works. Relevant Commonwealth agencies will be consulted on the scope of works. Other relevant stakeholders will be invited to contribute their perspectives to the learning report
7/1/2018 – 9/30/2018
Develop a framework
/mechanism for the public service to learn from existing place based approaches
10/1/2018 – 3/31/2019
Capture learnings from existing place-based approaches
1/1/2019 – 12/31/2019
Finalise report on learnings
1/1/2020 – 6/30/2020
Provide Government with recommendations based on learnings and seek Government's agreement to publish recommendations
4/1/2020 – 9/30/2020
Engagement and Development Branch. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Special Adviser. Regional Governance. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Email and Phone
Other Actors Involved
Department of Health. Department of Social Services. Department of Human Services. Department of Education and Training. Department of Jobs and Small Business. Department of Infrastructure. Regional Development and Cities. Australian Bureau of Statistics and relevant State and Territory Government agencies.
Specific organisations not yet identified. but may include a cross section of Empowered Communities organisations. Logan Together community partners and Stronger Communities for Children facilitating partners. local citizens and local government representatives
IRM Midterm Status Summary
4. Improve public service practices using place-based approaches
The Government will explore ways to encourage the application and broader adoption of place-based approaches across the public service and provide recommendations for how the public service could apply a more place-centred, transformational and joined-up delivery approach to its work.
This will be done by establishing mechanisms for the public service to learn from place-based approaches already underway, such as Cities Deals, and Empowered Communities, Stronger Communities for Children, and Logan Together. The learning focus will be on good practice and challenges in relation to delegation and accountability for local planning, engagement and service delivery to support place-based approaches and listening to the experiences of citizens.
4.1. Finalise scope of works. Relevant Commonwealth agencies will be consulted on the scope of works. Other relevant stakeholders will be invited to contribute their perspectives to the learning report
- Develop a framework/mechanism for the public service to learn from existing place-based approaches
- Capture learnings from existing place-based approaches
- Finalise report on learnings
- Provide government with recommendations based on learnings and seek government’s agreement to publish recommendations
Start Date: September 2018 End Date: August 2020
Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text, see the Australia National Action Plan available at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Australia_Action-Plan_2018-2020.pdf.
Context and Objectives
This commitment examines existing place-based approaches and consults government agencies and other stakeholders to understand and make recommendations for how the public sector can better utilise place-based approaches.
A place-based approach recognises that some policies may not be suited to local conditions, particularly in areas of disadvantage. It therefore attempts to use meaningful, local, public, multistakeholder participation in policy development and service delivery, from community participation in government prioritisation, to local coordination of centrally funded programs and even local control over the expenditure of pooled funds. 
Logan Together, for example, is a program attempting to help 5,000 children achieve developmental milestones by the age of eight, and it involves over 100 organisations and 1,000 people in a number of community-based projects. It has enabled decision-making to be devolved to the local communities to coordinate expenditures and integrate services around the needs of local families and communities.  Similarly, the Stronger Communities for Children program operates across ten sites in the Northern Territory, and joins local communities with service providers and other stakeholders in areas like building communities’ capacity to lead, plan, and prioritise services that families and children need. 
Place-based approaches can improve inclusion and enhance civic participation. However, this commitment merely promises government examination of place-based approaches and not actual adoption. Although it is unclear which stakeholders will be engaged in this learning-focused initiative, this commitment is relevant to civic participation. There is also the possibility that the commitment will lead to additional information being made available on the operation and limitations of current approaches. However, the commitment does not make any such information publicly available, and instead only seeks government agreement to publish recommendations.
This commitment is generally verifiable. A scope of work finalised by the stakeholders, a mechanism to learn from existing approaches, and a final report on their lessons are all potentially verifiable activities. However, several milestones lack specificity as the commitment, as written, does not specify what information will be disclosed, how consultations will occur, or whether the government will provide any feedback in the implementation of this commitment.
If fully implemented as written, this commitment stands to have a minor potential impact on the introduction of place-based approaches in public service delivery. The commitment does not attempt to extend the use of place-based approaches but merely investigates how such approaches may be extended in the future. While the implementation of recommendations that arise out of this commitment might impact service delivery, the precise extent of such impact is unclear without an understanding of the recommendations’ ambition.
Place-based initiatives can enhance local public participation in the development and delivery of public services. Many current projects have led to the publication of additional information, and by devolving decision-making to the local level, potentially increased accountability as well. Evaluating and developing the capacity to employ place-based initiatives could therefore significantly support OGP values.
The government should consider a more ambitious commitment in the future and publish all results from the engagement process undertaken in this commitment. It should develop a collaborative approach to the identification, prioritisation, and development of place-based approaches in the future.
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