How to deliver great policy advice

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday December 5, 2019

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Leaders from across the public sector, the private sector, and academia have come together to discuss the ins and outs of delivering great policy advice.

Last month the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) launched the Delivering Great Policy initiative.

The four key elements to delivering top-notch policy include being clear on intent, being well informed, having practical solutions, and giving influential advice, according to the initiative. Culture, mindset, skills, tools, and processes also play a huge part in underpinning the readiness for delivery.

Held at Old Parliament House, the event posed a question to its 235 attendees: How do we take policy advice from good to great?

Public servants discussed the value of a clear, concise problem statement, and embracing and supporting implementers. They also talked about the challenges they continue to face, such as lacking the time (or permission) to work collaboratively, the uncertainty of how to connect with experts, and the barriers to engaging with implementers. 

Read more: New Public Management: the practical challenges, remedies and alternatives

While some shared the benefits of moving between implementation and policy roles, others explored the barriers preventing them from swapping roles. 

Attendees also expressed their desire for more practical tools and resources.

Other pieces of advice bounced around the room were to be brave (but authentic and humble), to focus on citizen engagement, and to bring in outsiders to help frame and understand problems.

The Department of Human Services secretary Renée Leon, Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson, Communications and the Arts secretary Mike Mrdak, and Industry, Innovation and Science secretary Dr Heather Smith also attended the event to share their insights.

The Innovation department also used the gathering to promote its Framework for Engagement and Participation, which aims to help public servants engage with citizens, community and business.

The Delivering Great Policy initiative can be found on the APS’ Policy Hub, which was launched in June to enhance APS policymaking standards and address skill gaps.

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