Historically, government agencies have focused on measuring their outputs rather than their outcomes or the impact they actually have on their citizens. In order to place citizens at the heart of decision making, the NSW Treasury is leading a transformation towards outcomes based approaches.
The NSW outcomes based budgeting approach is budgeting done from the citizen’s perspective and demands that all NSW Departments and Agencies put people at the centre of investment decision making to achieve the best outcomes for Australians.
For example, rather than paying for more trains and measuring success by how many more trains NSW has put on the tracks, outcomes based budgeting asks what impact having more trains has on citizens. Would it provide shorter trips for people? Should we invest more in this?
For the first time ever, the NSW state budget used outcomes as the main objective, using 46 outcome measures to set out expectations for departments.
This is part of a bigger national push to become driven by outcomes than outputs. Currently, the state of Victoria is also beginning an outcomes reform agenda and while it is not yet mandated in federal agencies, most have to start thinking in this way.
This requires a paradigm shift. While most people appreciate the concept, the ‘how to’ is more difficult. It requires significant reorganisation, cross-functional teamwork, and changes to planning, reporting, and measurement. While some areas of government have already begun this transition, and some states such as New South Wales and Victoria are implementing significant, whole of government reform around outcomes based approaches, they are still in the very early stages of this journey.
There are four main drivers that government organisations need to consider in this transition:
- Embedding and prioritising an outcomes focus across government
- Strengthening culture, governance and leadership to achieve better results
- Utilising data effectively to improve outcomes based strategy
- Moving from measuring outputs to measuring outcomes
The Planning, Measuring and Strengthening Outcomes Based Approaches in Government conference will bring together leaders from across the public sector to identify practical strategies and discuss best practice approaches to develop a strong and successful outcomes focus, reimagining the way the public sector serves our citizens effectively and efficiently.