It’s time to research machinery of government changes

By The Mandarin

Wednesday June 7, 2017

Machinery of government changes are common in the public sector globally, and often occur when governments come into power or develop a new budgetary or policy initiative. But the costs of MoG changes often go unreported or unknown.

In the UK it was shown that establishing a new department costs at least £15m in the first year alone (White and Dunleavy, 2010). This is because MoG changes are hugely disruptive, with extra resourcing often needed to implement the change and continue business as usual, challenges with information technology, and the high transition costs associated with staff being distracted from daily operational business as they change jobs and re-locate.

“Wanted: public servants at any hierarchical level who have worked in departments where MoG changes have occurred.”

Despite recognition of these issues, and the frequency and importance of MoG changes, there almost no research into why governments initiate structural change (or their intentions), the implementation issues associated with MoG changes, or how to implement public sector MoG changes more efficiently and effectively.

To address these questions, researchers at the University of New South Wales, Canberra are undertaking a study into MoG changes in the Australian public sector. This study aims to develop a typology of MoG changes, based on their differing purposes and arrangements; identify the factors that enable and impede the implementation of MoG changes; and establish recommendations for practice regarding how to implement MoG changes more effectively. It is intended that public service organisations will be able to use these findings and recommendations to improve the effectiveness of future MoG changes.

The UNSW, Canberra researchers are looking for participants to be involved in this study. They would like to hear from public servants at any hierarchical level who have worked in departments where MoG changes have occurred.

They will conduct interviews and focus groups to ask participants to reflect on their public service career and experiences with MoG changes to:

  1. identify what they perceive to be the different types of MoG changes and why they are initiated;
  2. reflect on what worked well and what could be improved with these changes (enablers and barriers); and
  3. provide any suggestions for how they could have been improved.

If you would like to inform recommendations regarding how to implement MoG change more effectively, and be involved in this study, please contact Dr Fiona Buick on [email protected].

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