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As the dust begins to settle following the shocks of the pandemic, there is an emerging consensus that comprehensive infrastructure spending, vaccine roll-out pace and capturing lessons learned from crisis management are key elements to drive continued high performance from government service operations.

Yet considering that no two countries have experienced the same impact – upon their economies, existing resources, emergency legislation, severity of cases or approach to vaccinations – the reality is that no solutions and priorities are likely to be the same.

Owing to the unique pressures and expectations of governments, our Public Sector practice is a fast-growing area within Partners in Performance and adept at handling many common and emerging challenges:

Overturn fiscal gaps in budget

Digital transformation and process optimisation to achieve high performance

Ensuring your infrastructure investment delivers expected economic stimulus

Reducing procurement costs in a socially responsible manner

Excessive spending is always a challenge for governments who may have to struggle to project the complexity of citizen demand. How can you gain effective control of capital spend?

The global pandemic continues to be a major strain on capital resources for governments worldwide.

Even countries that have been comparatively shielded from some of the worst effects have felt its impact sharply in specific instances.

For example, the fluctuation of demand during the pandemic was particularly evident in many transport sectors. Countries that previously had a problem regarding overcrowded trains found that following the necessity for citizens to work from home for much of 2020, they were soon running a full transport program with empty buses and trains.

Planning for the unexpected

This is a crucial moment for government institutions to identify savings and reforms that will support their economy and jobs in the short term, while assisting in returning budgets to a healthy position into the medium term.

Across our client base, we identify saving opportunities in addition to existing improvement initiatives and define a strong accountability framework for performance to ensure the implementation of savings measures.

How can public sector services accelerate digital adoption of services in ways where the benefit to citizens is immediately understood?

Digital and agile delivery is well advanced in some government departments, while in others it may be limited to specific regions. In the case of Australia, New South Wales (NSW) has displayed consistent digital leadership, most recently in its spearheading the development of a national digital birth certificate.

However, other states and other areas of NSW Government services are still heavily manual and paper-based, with citizens needing to maintain the same information across countless platforms for thousands of employees who serve citizen needs through repetitive, paper-based work.

We believe that the performance management of frontline staff should be embraced, not feared. This means working collaboratively to foster positive outcomes and taking corrective action when outcomes are not achieved.

Digital development can be bold, accelerated and effective when there is a real urgency to do so. The early shocks of the pandemic proved a vital testing ground for the need to digitally transform public-facing services in ways that drastically reduce employee work volume and complexity for citizens. The results of urgent digital adoption and process optimisation have freed up available working hours and improved customer service satisfaction, that where applied, their implementation quickly becomes the norm.

Our efforts seek to digitise the interaction between citizens and government departments in ways that reduce paperwork costs and are refocused on saving time and driving efficiency.

We help drive performance improvement in complex program implementation and target red-tape reduction through policy and process simplification. By identifying saving opportunities in addition to existing improvement initiatives and defining a strong accountability framework for performance, government agencies can effectively implement measures to capture savings.

Excessive spending is always a challenge for governments that may have struggled to project the complexity of citizen demand. How can you gain effective control of capital spend?

It has not been an enviable time for those working in the public sector, with challenging decisions and heart-wrenching trade-offs made daily. However, around the world, we see one common, and very positive, theme: governments are making substantial infrastructure investments in the hopes of stimulating their economies beyond COVID-19.

While it is true that infrastructure spending offers a great, powerful economic growth lever, the increase in spending and accelerated timelines bring with them many issues and risks. From supply chain disruptions to the significant mismatch between supply and demand in the infrastructure sector, delivering infrastructure projects on time and in budget is almost unheard of.

Reprioritise and resequence your portfolio and rethink your delivery strategy

Thankfully, financial and execution risks can be successfully mitigated within weeks through effective portfolio prioritisation, resequencing and program intervention. Government entities should begin by clearly and concisely articulating the principles under which they prioritise capital spend and then ensure consistent implementation across the country.

It is imperative to address the needs of taxpayers and the price of value in delivering infrastructure projects. However, this is not achieved in the form of a 'bargain' but rather a project that delivers excellence and value derived from a fair, honest and collaborative relationship between governments and contractors. Contract negotiations should focus on an equal opportunity as the catalyst for success across government, contractors and supply chains.

The potential to improve the value delivery of each major program should be rapidly assessed, such as the capacity to reduce the critical path, cost (for instance reducing scope that adds little community value), risk, and subsequently increase economic stimulus.

The result is a safer suite of successful projects for governments, suitable profit for contractors and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.

Managing suppliers to the public sector carries a major concern: am I dealing with the most cost-efficient supplier?

Many suppliers to the public sector continue to treat it as a 'cash cow'. Left unaddressed, such projects can grow ever more costly and attract the ongoing ire of taxpayers.

In the case of Australia, the ballooning costs associated with a $90 billion defence contract to build a new national submarine fleet grew by 12% in the space of six months – a revision that led to the project being dubbed a "national disgrace" by a popular daily newspaper.

In our experience, the largest cost-saving opportunities in government are typically in contingent labour, ICT, transport infrastructure and general goods and services categories.

No matter the project, we believe that procurement maturity begins with the ‘wiring’ of a procurement organisation so that it can effectively add value and influence buying decisions/usage.

Roadmap for lasting delivery

We help organisations move along a procurement maturity roadmap in phases that begin by driving the lowest price outcomes, with a focus on tracking and capturing savings. This leads to wiring the organisation by enabling innovation and optimising the total cost of ownership. From here, we incorporate collaborative sourcing to drive value from partnerships across the wider value chain.

We ensure that procurement benefits are tracked through to the bottom line and reviewed frequently to drive action. In this way, our impact is defined by changing behaviours and tailoring processes and tools for outcomes that last.

Aldous Mitchell

Today we are seeing a once-in-a-generation wave of investment from governments seeking to spend their way out of prolonged COVID-19 struggles. The downsides of this approach are not fully quantifiable, yet much risk can be mitigated by careful consideration of what will make your investment most effective.

Aldous Mitchell

Director

We use a highly collaborative approach when working with our clients to help implement large, multi-year cross-agency government reforms. 

Our government partnerships have led to some of the largest transformations in Australia, and we liaise with Ministers and Cabinet at state and national levels.

Client success stories

Success

Facilitated major transformation for Department of Defence

Optimised resourcing through forward-looking, dynamic simulations

Brought a government agency into the digital age

Meet our Public Sector leadership

Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson

Partner

Australia and New Zealand

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