Service contestability: the four key elements to making it work

Service contestability is here and the Australian public sector must embrace it. But what are the key elements to succeed? A consultant offers four important pointers.

Making government services contestable presents a number of strategic challenges for the public sector. It represents a significant change to the way government currently operates and will have far reaching impacts on each department’s focus, operations, capabilities and culture. The challenges range from understanding what contestability means through to successfully implementing it.

One thing is certain: contestability is here and the public sector will need to proactively embrace it.

The phrase “more for less” encapsulates the aspiration that contestability seeks to facilitate. It entails getting better quality outcomes with fewer resources, resulting in increased productivity. Government will achieve better outcomes through astute “make versus buy” decisions rather than undertake all of the necessary activities itself. The enthusiasm for contestability is not unique to Australia and it will not abate, as the affordability of crucial community services such as health and education are called into question by the economic realities of an ageing population.

There are four key elements needed to succeed …

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