We recently moved our readers to a new system. You may need to reset your password here to login.
Not a member ? Join here for free.
Forgot your password?
Home Features Gary Sturgess: a middle way for contestability
Text size :
TAGS ANZSOG, contestability, Gary L Sturgess
ANZSOG’s Professor Gary Sturgess has written a paper making the case for contestability. The word has come to mean many different things, as synonym for “competition” or a soft alternative to “outsourcing”, but the former mandarin says the concept is much richer than that.
The public don’t like monopolies. And they are suspicious of them in the public sector as well as the private sector. Sometimes there is no other way of organising the production and delivery of goods and services, but we all know from experience that monopolies are generally unresponsive to the needs of customers and service users, and they pay too much attention to the convenience of management and staff.
On the other hand, we are also worried about the use of competition and outsourcing in the delivery of public services. In certain parts of the public sector – in primary health care; primary, secondary and higher education; and now in disability care — Australians have made it clear that they value user choice. And where contracting has been done well, the public seem to be more relaxed about the private management of public services. Sydney Ferries is an example of a public service that has been recently franchised, where service quality remains high and the public no longer care who is responsible for its operation.
But the public do want social services to be delivered by people who are motivated by a desire to serve. They worry about the profit motive. And they are concerned that public servants may be outwitted by commercially-savvy contractors.
The public have much greater confidence in those who deliver front-line services than those who manage the finances. Understandably, they identify more closely with those who care more about service quality than those whose care about cost. Front-line staff are much more likely to identify with service users, which is one of the reasons the public trusts them more. In short, the public wants social services to be delivered by people who are motivated by a ‘public service ethos’.
Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.
The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
Premier's ANZSOG chair in Public Service Delivery at the University of New South Wales and professor at the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. Former Director-General of the NSW Cabinet Office.
Read Related Content
Bureaucrats must innovate and "discard the baggage of interagency turf wars". The Business Council of Australia chief offered lessons the public sector could learn from business.