Transforming Policy and Delivery

Closeup on Sausages
“Laws,” says that illustrious rhymer, Mr. John Godfrey Saxe, “like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.”

I’ve written a fair bit about how we spend a lot of effort curating the programs for our conferences. But even then, themes often emerge organically that we never really considered.

When we first imagined the conference that became Transform, about 18 months ago, we had been taking note of the rise of a “second wave” of government digital service delivery. The UK’s Government Digital Service had kicked off this human centred, design and research led approach, which was adopted increasingly around the world, including in Australia with the DTO (now DTA).

Our focus for Transform was originally very much “the last mile” – delivering (as, for the most part, has been the focus of GDS, and DTA and the US Digital Service) the design, development and delivery of services.

But this year, in particular, as I’ve been chatting with speakers both international and local about the event, time and again the conversation has turned to the importance of policy. No matter how good service delivery is, poorly developed policies, or policies that — even with the best possible motivation — are created in a vacuum, will not deliver ideal outcomes.

More than one speaker has talked about the need for an ‘agile’ approach to policy development, and the sense I get as an outsider is that policy is still very much made in a ‘waterfall’ manner.

This issue has come up with almost every speaker, more or less spontaneously, and I feel (and hope) it is an issue that may gain momentum in the coming months. I’m sure it will get a lot of attention at Transform, in Canberra March 30th.

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