The Public Sector Pia Review: series introduction

By Pia Andrews

Thursday December 12, 2019

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THE PIA REVIEW: PIA ANDREWS This is a Public Sector Pia Review — a series on better public sectors.

Download part 1 of the Public Sector Pia Review compendium (PDF)

On the cusp of a new decade, I had something of an epiphany. I realised three interrelated things:

  • I had accrued almost 20 years of working at the intersection of technology, government and society, with a range of roles in private, public and political jobs but always focused on creating great public outcomes from technology the best I could.
  • We are 20% into the 21st century, and yet fundamental paradigm shifts, modern methods or multi-disciplinary collaborative approaches are still not being integrated into policy, program or project planning across our public sectors.
  • That I seem to keep having the same discussions with people, I keep seeing the same patterns repeating, and I keep seeing people called “thought leaders” for pointing out the bleeding obvious :) What is driving these patterns has become something of a professional passion.

So, I decided I wanted to do something about it. I contacted The Mandarin and asked if they’d be interested in some articles on public sector reform through the lens of a digital practitioner. They were more than supportive, although probably got a little more than they bargained for :) My deepest thanks to Harley Dennett in particular for all his encouragement, deep discussions and sub-editing for what became the “Public Sector Pia Review”, a cute play on words that was both memorable, and reflective of my passion for collaborative approaches. Indeed, all articles were peer-reviewed by a range of experts, collaborators and thought leaders, for which I am very thankful (they are all named in the relevant articles, thank you all!).

I committed to writing 20 articles in 20 days about 20 years’ experience in preparation for 2020! I managed to write 18 in 18 days, but the final two articles were deep, reflective and needed serious consideration and peer review (they were on how to maintain an apolitical public service in practice, and the unintended consequences of New Public Management with practical mitigations). These are published in two parts, with all essays not trying to assume all answers, but simply reflecting my lived experiences and what has worked for me:

  1. Doing public sector better, today — essays written to provide practical tips, methods, tricks and ideas to help public servants to their best possible work today for the best possible public outcomes; and
  2. Reimagining government — essays about possible futures, the big existential, systemic or structural challenges and opportunities as I’ve experienced them, paradigm shifts and the urgent need for everyone to reimagine how they best serve the government, the parliament and the people, today and into the future.

I hope this collection of essays can provide some practical ideas, strategies, lessons and discussion starters for public servants across Australia and the world, and I look forward to continuing to learn, contribute to and support the public sector reforms and evolutions that are so urgently needed to support the communities we all serve.

I encourage you all to be frank and fearless, but also kind, compassionate, inclusive and future-focused in everything that you do so that we can help build and contribute to better, more optimistic futures for everyone. You don’t have to feel powerless in the face of a huge problem. Just do your part — whatever you can do today, tomorrow and every day — and together we will create truly better public sectors for the better public good.

It apparently only takes 3% of any population to create a change, so simply be and expect the change you want to see. The behaviours, practices and assumptions you walk past, are the ones that will persist.

Finally, an enormous thank you to my supportive, insightful, brilliant and constructively challenging husband, Thomas. You help me keep it real and you make all things possible, thank you.



Download part 1 of the Public Sector Pia Review compendium (PDF)

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