What is to be done about public trust? Actionable measures from the OECD

By Stephen Easton

December 1, 2017

The following video is from Edwin Lau, the head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s public sector reform team. Lau spoke at an IPAA event in Canberra last year on the same topic — public trust in government — but made the video because he couldn’t make it to this year’s conference.


The word cloud (top) was based on one-word descriptions thrown in by delegates at the end of the day, with a few cheeky contributions from the hive-mind like “bland” and “directionless” as well as the combination “engage Sir John” — perhaps a suggestion that someone should headhunt the former New Zealand PM.

There’s also the results of three multiple-choice survey questions asked throughout the day.

What is the most significant factor affecting trust in the government and public service? By far, “political partisanship and instability” was the most popular of the available answers.

How can leaders in the public service preserve trust in government? The best of the four suggestions was to “engage directly with citizens through collaboration and co-design” according to 61% of people who answered.

What attribute is most needed in the public service to build greater trust with the community? The audience was more split on this one, but “better communication and citizen engagement” came out on top, and “more agility to meet the changing needs of society” was also a reasonably popular option.

Two academic reports out of the University of Canberra are also available — How Australians imagine their democracy by Mark Evans, Max Halupka and Gerry Stoker from the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, and Digital News Report: Australia 2017 by the News & Media Research Centre.

All the survey results, the word cloud and the academic reports are available here from the IPAA, ACT Division.

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