1. The whole of government challenge

Last updated: 15 Jun 2012

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Chapter findings

The report has defined 'whole of government' in the Australian Public Service (APS) as:

Whole of government denotes public service agencies working across portfolio boundaries to achieve a shared goal and an integrated government response to particular issues. Approaches can be formal and informal. They can focus on policy development, program management and service delivery.

APS agencies should review their work in light of this definition to assess the potential impact of this report on their work.

There are many imperatives which make being successful at whole of government work increasingly important. These include pressures on the APS to offer sophisticated whole of government policy advice which comprehends a range of stakeholders' views, and to respond to complex policy challenges such as environmental or rural issues. There are pressures to join up program management, including security threats and intractable social issues such as drug dependence. There are rising community expectations for easier access to government by integrating service delivery. Agencies should review the impact of these imperatives on their work, including taking a long-term view of possible scenarios.

Whole of government approaches to Australian government work are a relative strength for Australia and are not new. The increasing pressures on the APS demands that its history in whole of government work is understood to ensure it is not necessary to 'reinvent the wheel', yet work practices are continually improved.

Agencies should take a whole of government approach when there are clear benefits. Leadership from ministers and agency heads is a critical part of whole of government work. The report offers a checklist of issues to consider, which agencies should adopt as routine practice.

Agencies should consider carefully the following challenges when approaching a whole of government task: developing a supportive culture and skills base; instituting appropriate governance, budget and accountability frameworks; maximising information and communications infrastructure; improving government's engagement with individuals and communities; and building the capacity to respond quickly and effectively to emerging issues and future crises.

  • Making whole of government work better is a key priority for the APS.
  • Whole of government work encompasses the design and delivery of policy, programs and services.
  • The notion of whole of government is not new. Coordination has been a longstanding feature of Australian public administration.
  • The real challenge of whole of government is in the day-to-day realities of trying to work across boundaries to make sure that outcomes are achieved.
  • A whole of government approach should not be taken lightly-issues should be examined individually to decide if this is the best approach.


Some of the most challenging policy choices faced by government are those that cross the traditional boundaries between Cabinet ministers' portfolios and between the Australian, State and Territory levels of government. (T)asks that run well beyond the remits of individual ministers.are whole of government problems and their resolution requires a long-term strategic focus, a willingness to develop policy through consultation with the community and a bias towards flexible delivery that meets local needs and conditions. (The Hon. John Howard, MP, Prime Minister, Strategic Leadership for Australia: Policy Directions in a Complex World, November 2002.)

Making whole of government approaches work better for ministers and government is now a key priority for the APS.

A vital issue for the APS in delivering quality advice, programs and services is ensuring work is effective across organisational boundaries. Making whole of government approaches work better for ministers and government is now a key priority for the APS. There is a need to achieve more effective policy coordination and more timely and effective implementation of government policy decisions, in line with the statutory requirement for the APS to be responsive to the elected government. Ministers and government expect the APS to work across organisational boundaries to develop well informed, comprehensive policy advice and implement government policies in an integrated way.

In addition, the Australian public increasingly expects services to individuals, business and communities to be tailored to their particular needs. They expect government to take full advantage of technology to do business better. There is now more expert and informed scrutiny of government, making the public more quickly aware of any approaches that appear to conflict.

Much is occurring to meet these demands, but more concerted action is needed as the demands of the government-and the Australian public-increase.

This report is about identifying better ways of working across organisational boundaries.

Recognising this imperative, the Management Advisory Committee (MAC) initiated a review of relevant experience to identify better, practical ways of working across organisational boundaries. The project involved a consideration of international and Australian experience and the examination of a number of case studies. (The terms of reference for the project are at appendix 1.)

This report outlines the key findings of the project and includes a summary of the case studies.

Its findings call for action at a number of different levels-for the service as a whole, individual agencies and senior managers.

The report is supplemented by Good Practice Guides to assist those involved on the ground in whole of government activity, a bibliography and literature review, and a summary of findings. A web presence is also being developed to provide additional resources.

What 'whole of government' means

Achieving greater coordination in policy advice and program and service delivery is a high priority of public administration in Australia.

There are numerous names to describe this priority, such as joined-up government, connected government, policy coherence, networked government, horizontal management and whole of government.

Whole of government work encompasses the design and delivery of policy, programs and services.

The distinguishing characteristic of whole of government work is that there is an emphasis on objectives shared across organisational boundaries, as opposed to working solely within an organisation. It encompasses the design and delivery of a wide variety of policies, programs and services that cross organisational boundaries.

Its use in the Australian context has generally implied an emphasis on breadth ('whole') and on government (especially Cabinet and the ministry), emphasising that public sector agencies are focused on the government's policy and operational agenda. There is also recognition that whole of government activities can be responsive to community needs for better coordination of services or policies.

Whole of government initiatives can result from formal 'top-down' decisions requiring a cross-portfolio approach, such as the Council of Australian Governments' Indigenous Communities Coordination Trials (COAG Indigenous Trials).1 Alternatively, many initiatives begin at the local level where people from different agencies work together to achieve shared goals for one community.

Whole of government defined.

For the purposes of this report:

'Whole of government denotes public service agencies working across portfolio boundaries to achieve a shared goal and an integrated government response to particular issues. Approaches can be formal and informal. They can focus on policy development, program management and service delivery.'

It clearly envisages increased coherence across government, including within portfolio and agency responsibilities, reflecting the elected government's overall policies and priorities. These approaches frequently involve groups outside government.2 Whole of government activity may also span any or all of the three levels of federal, state/territory and local governments in Australia. While touching on aspects of this cross-jurisdictional interaction, this report focuses primarily on integration at the Australian Government level.

Why a whole of government approach is so important

External drivers

There are more and more demands to integrate policies, programs and services

The key demands for horizontal management are 'increasingly demanding citizens, new information and communications technologies, continuing pressure on public sector budgets, experimentation with new ways to deliver services, and greater recognition of the complexity of social problems and the range of expertise from different institutions and sectors required to tackle them'.3

The world is more complex and there are new challenges such as security and counter-terrorism

Challenges, such as security and counter-terrorism, managing a sustainable environment, supporting communities in rural and remote Australia, and addressing intractable social problems like drug dependence, are complex. As the Prime Minister states, the solutions to these types of problems require strategic responses that cross organisational and state and local government boundaries, and involve groups of people outside government. In addition, more Australians come into contact with the Australian Government than ever before. Pensioners and beneficiaries of Australian government support already comprise nearly 20 per cent of the population. The increased ageing of the population will likely increase the level of interactions between citizens and the government. Government agencies must respond well to increasing demands from citizens.

Globalisation is another key external driver. Technological change is driving international competition, from which the public sector is not immune. To assist the Australian economy to remain competitive, productivity gains must continue to be achieved in public policy and public service delivery: greater integration and shared infrastructure offers one of the opportunities for such gains.

Technological change both facilitates connections and raises community expectations

Technological change both facilitates and increases the imperative for working across organisational boundaries. The internet, in particular, eliminates boundaries and raises community expectations of integrated services.

The trend towards customer-centred commercial activity has provided a point of comparison for government service. Lessons have been drawn from the private and non-government sectors to ensure services are more responsive, secure and tailored to particular customers and clients, using the latest in technology and communication infrastructure. People want government to be more accessible, less complex and faster in its response to their concerns. An important constraint is the premium people place on privacy.

Centrelink, Australia Post and Rural Transaction Centres are all examples of more integrated service delivery arrangements with the capacity for linking with private service providers.

The APS must maintain the capacity to identify and assess different perspectives and views

Many sources of policy advice are now available to the Australian Government. This is not surprising given advances in information technology and communications, a more sophisticated media, improved general standards of education and increased community capacity to challenge policies. The role of the APS in being responsive to the elected government requires its policy advice to be comprehensive as well as honest, accurate and timely. To do this, the APS must maintain close links with external advisers and the capacity to identify and assess different perspectives and views.

Internal drivers

Inside the APS, increased devolution has delivered gains, but with the risk of emphasising 'silos'

Much of the new public sector reform agenda of the last two decades in Australia has focused on improving efficiency and effectiveness. This allows agencies greater flexibility in the management of resources, coupled with sharper responsibility for the agency outcomes or results demanded by the government. There is considerable evidence of substantial productivity gains as agencies have taken advantage of devolution to align their staffing, administrative resources and assets to the objectives government has set them. They have exploited new technologies and used competition and purchaser-provider arrangements to get the most from limited resources.

There is some risk, however, that devolution of authority to agency heads and a clear vertical accountability for agency outcomes may make collaboration across organisational boundaries more difficult.

The flexibility fostered by devolution could, however, be used to address whole of government issues

The flexibility fostered by devolution, however, could also be used to explore innovative solutions to complex problems, including solutions requiring cooperation among agencies and with external groups. The challenge is to find the infrastructure, processes and practices that might promote better connections and remove any obstacles to collaboration that devolution may have raised. These include relevant skills and culture, an information-sharing infrastructure and governance arrangements that focus accountability on the whole of government outcomes the government is seeking.

Whole of government is a relative strength for Australia

Whole of government work is not new

The notion of whole of government is not new. Coordination has been a longstanding feature of Australian public administration, with three main types of whole of government activity:

  • between Australian government agencies
  • between different levels of government
  • between the public, private, non-profit and community sectors.

Perhaps the first attempt at whole of government coordination was the establishment of the Prime Minister's Office not long after Federation.

The Coombs Report in 1976 set the scene for better ways of approaching whole of government issues

A landmark Australian report promoting new whole of government approaches was the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration (RCAGA)4, published in 1976. It argued that a new style of public administration was required which placed more emphasis on:

...availability of a comprehensive service at a local level...[which] gives the citizen a greater sense of being in touch with the decision-makers rather than an amorphous, unreachable department5.

Coordination has been enhanced by... ...reducing the number of departments

In 1987 a major RCAGA recommendation was implemented when 28 government departments were decreased to 18, each with a portfolio Cabinet minister. This was an attempt to integrate related functions into larger portfolios and also to enhance the capacity of Cabinet to take strategic policy decisions covering all areas of government. This important structural change helped to integrate policy, program and service delivery across federal agencies. While there have been many machinery of government changes since 1987, the basic philosophy of fewer portfolio departments, each represented directly in Cabinet, has remained.

...creating Centrelink

The RCAGA report also proposed a 'one-stop shop' concept to facilitate transactions with all levels of government. Trials of this concept had mixed success, partly because of the limits of technology at the time. The idea, however, bore fruit in 1997 with the creation of Centrelink to bring together the service delivery networks of two Australian government departments in the income support and employment sphere, together with related services funded through a number of other Australian and state government agencies.

Another initiative aimed at improving coordination was the Fraser government's concept of 'cooperative federalism' in the 1970s, which sought ways of avoiding duplication, overlap and unnecessary interference with the affairs of the states. The Hawke government's 'New Federalism' policy, launched in 1990, also focused on cooperation, proposing federal withdrawal of direct service delivery from some areas.

While resolving federal relations is an ongoing challenge, the emphasis of these approaches on practical cooperation has continued.

...the Council of Australian Governments

Whole of government coordination between the three levels of government (federal, state and local) was enhanced through the establishment of COAG in 1992. COAG increased cooperation between levels of government and provided a forum for consideration of whole of government issues such as national competition policy. The Howard government's tax reform in the late 1990s reduced the annual financial debates and allowed COAG to extend its role as a forum for considering national priorities that require action across jurisdictions.

...the use of taskforces

The 1980s also saw the increased use of taskforces, rather than traditional interdepartmental committees, to bring together agencies and the right people in a flexible and focused way. Taskforces are now an established way of tackling high-priority whole of government tasks.

Until the 1990s many integrated initiatives were top-down, focusing on policy coherence. In the last few years there has been a new suite of whole of government projects aimed at coherent delivery of support to communities, regions and individuals-with an emphasis on community consultation and participation. Examples included community development programs such as the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy and the Rural Transaction Centres which bring together Centrelink, Medicare, Telstra and other services in one location for rural Australians.

...the 'social coalition'

The Howard government has also focused on developing a 'social coalition' through partnerships between government, business and community groups. The Prime Minister's Business and Community Partnership initiative fosters such partnerships and formally rewards the most successful.

In late 2002, the Prime Minister identified a series of key priority issues for whole of government activities, all requiring significant levels of consultation and partnership development.6 They included: national security and defence; work and family life; demographics; science and innovation; education; sustainable environment; energy; rural and regional affairs; and transport. While the list was not presented as comprehensive and priorities will change over time, the Prime Minister has continued to emphasise the importance of issues that inevitably cross organisational boundaries.

...the Cabinet Implementation Unit.

As recently as 2003 the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet enhanced its coordination role by establishing the Cabinet Implementation Unit, which will support major whole of government activities as one of its functions.

The COAG Indigenous Trials are an important current example of a whole of government approach.

The case studies in this report illustrate the wide range of whole of government activity. One of these studies, the COAG Indigenous Trials, is a current example of a whole of government approach to complex needs in many remote Indigenous communities. These communities have needs that cross organisational boundaries at many levels, including health, education, housing, community infrastructure and employment. The Wadeye Trial, for example, found that population growth was placing pressure on housing and that overcrowding was resulting in poorer health and education outcomes. While all these aspects were linked, housing was a key.

While not new, for the reasons outlined earlier, the imperative for a whole of government focus is stronger than ever before. A more concerted approach at the service-wide and agency level is required.

There are particular challenges to be addressed:

  • improving collaboration between organisations while maintaining accountability to ministers and through ministers to Cabinet and the parliament
  • delivering programs and services in a coordinated way to the Australian public while keeping down costs, avoiding fraud, maintaining national security and yet protecting privacy
  • improving the Australian Government's engagement with individuals and communities
  • working cooperatively with other governments
  • responding effectively to emerging issues and crises.

When a whole of government approach is appropriate

The definition of whole of government includes 'public service agencies working across portfolio boundaries'. A large proportion of collaborative work is undertaken by agencies on a day-to-day basis in policy development, program management or service delivery. Examples are the constant contact between the Department of Family and Community Services and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations on employment and welfare issues, or between the Department of Education, Science and Training and others on youth and early childhood issues.

There can be day-to day challenges in working across boundaries

Often the real challenge of whole of government work is not the large-scale, high-level, multi-lateral exercise so much as the day-to-day realities of trying to work across boundaries to make sure that outcomes are achieved.

The challenge then is not whether to use a whole of government approach, but how to use it well

In the policy development sphere, for example, key points in the policy cycle are, by their very nature, whole of government. These include agreement of costs, comments on submissions to government and collective decisions by ministers. The point here is not about whether whole of government is appropriate, but how well it is performed. In addition, many new policy areas are crossing traditional departmental boundaries because of the challenges they pose.

Program management is increasingly focusing on crossportfolio issues, particularly for complex problems. This experience will help improve the skills of APS employees at working in whole of government ways.

Service delivery is often undertaken, consciously or by default, on a collaborative basis. This is particularly so if it is undertaken by Centrelink but also if it is contracted out. A nongovernment agency would, for instance, be expected to link all programs it delivers on behalf of government. One of the challenges here is that these agencies are often trying to make sense of the connections between programs and policy. One of the solutions is to try and form feedback loops between service delivery and the policy process to unlock the lessons learnt in service delivery.

Using whole of government approaches for complex problems

A whole of government approach to a complex problem should not be taken lightly...

A strong message from the literature and case studies analysed for this report is that whole of government approaches to complex problems should only be undertaken when necessary.

Although there is a conviction about the effectiveness of whole of government approaches in the case studies, there is also a warning about judicious use. It is costly and time consuming and competing political and community agendas can undermine its objectives. It may not be the preferred approach for dealing with routine, straightforward issues.

At the same time, these factors should not be used as an excuse to avoid a whole of government approach-the APS should be striving to create a 'culture of collaboration' that aids informal sharing of research, experience and expertise in addressing intractable problems.

...it is particularly suited to addressing 'wicked problems'

It can, however, be particularly suitable for complex and longstanding policy issues, sometimes referred to as 'wicked problems'. They defy jurisdictional boundaries and resist bureaucratic routines.

It may also be suitable for a limited time to ensure a particular issue is given joint priority and attention by relevant agencies. In some cases it may be appropriate to establish new structures and ongoing cross-agency linkages with substantial information infrastructure, to deliver integrated services responsive to particular clients or communities. The investment involved, however, must be justified.

Each issue should be examined on a case-by-case basis to gauge whether a whole of government approach is the most appropriate

In determining whether a whole of government approach is appropriate, each situation or issue should be examined on a case-by-case basis. For very important issues it is likely that the government or the Prime Minister or ministers will identify an imperative to tackle a problem through a whole of government approach. For other issues the key challenge for government agencies is to recognise when an issue needs to be dealt with in this way. Some initial questions could be:

  • Why do existing policies and programs not deal adequately with the problem?
  • How does the problem relate to the government's core priorities?
  • What are the likely client or community expectations about a solution?
  • Which other agencies are affected by the problem and/or possible solutions?
  • What joint planning, delivery and accountability arrangements would be appropriate?
  • What are the risks of not adopting a whole of government approach to the issue?
  • What are the likely costs and benefits of a whole of government solution?

How best to do whole of government work

Promoting and supporting a more whole of government approach has been a common focus and priority of public administrations in a range of countries, as well as international bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Common drivers and policy challenges have fuelled interest and action in this area.

Countries have different approaches

Countries differ in the approach taken to drive a greater whole of government orientation, consistent with different government philosophies and approaches to public sector management. Key differences appear in the degree to which the approach is driven and controlled from the centre-for example, in the use of shared targets and reporting systems. In the UK, whole of government outcomes and cross-cutting targets are centrally set and monitored, with the Cabinet Office and Treasury playing a critical role.7

In Australia, the centre of government-the Prime Minister and Cabinet-is playing an increasing role in coordinating whole of government responses and prioritising whole of government issues. While the outcomes and outputs budget framework provides a strong basis for monitoring government activity, there is less use of national targets and reporting than in the UK.

Experience here and elsewhere has demonstrated the importance of institutional support for the political leadership and for whole of government work. This support goes beyond the central agencies and the offices of the central ministers.

There is no 'one size fits all' approach.

It is also clear that, whatever the overall philosophy, there is no 'one size fits all' approach for whole of government. There needs to be a range of organisational options available to deliver policies, programs and services across organisational boundaries successfully. The structure should be matched to the task. The variety of approaches is evident in the case studies conducted for this project, which include short-term taskforces, ongoing organisational solutions and a range of other coordinated mechanisms and processes.

.but there are common principles behind successful whole of government work.

Experience does suggest, however, that there are a series of common principles and challenges that need to be met for whole of government initiatives to be successful. These have formed the focus of the MAC considerations for this work. Appendix 3 provides a literature review.

The elements of an effective whole of government approach are broadly captured in Figure 1, which has been borrowed from Ling8, who was commenting on the types of changes that were occurring in Britain as the agenda of 'joined-up' government was pursued.

Figure 1: Best Practice Whole of Government

Culture and philosophy

  • incorporating whole of government values into portfolio cultures
  • information sharing and cooperative knowledge management
  • effective alignment of top-down policies with bottom-up issues

New ways of working

  • shared leadership
  • focus on expertise
  • flexible team processes and outcomes
  • cooperative resourcing
Best practice whole of government

New accountabilities and incentives

  • shared outcomes and reporting
  • flexibilities around service outcomes
  • reward and recognition for horizontal management

New ways of developing policies, designing programs and delivering services

  • collegiate approach
  • focus on whole of government outcomes
  • consultation and engagement with clients and users
  • shared customer interface

Against this framework, the following service-wide and agency-level challenges need to be addressed.

Developing a supportive culture and skills base

Skills central to good whole of government effort include collegiate skills and valuing diversity of views

Better management of whole of government priorities requires a skills base and culture within the APS that encourages interaction across institutional boundaries, values a diversity of views and perspectives, and innovation. This entails not only cooperation and collaboration across APS agencies, but also two-way communication with organisations such as community groups, business, academics and other governments.

A need for the wider APS to value whole of government work is highlighted in the literature, and could be supported through the use of incentives and rewards. Increasing mobility across organisational boundaries is seen as valuable in broadening public sector perspectives. There is also a need to develop skills and behaviour such as collaboration, trust, and the ability to mobilise teams and work well in groups. This has been a constant theme of the literature and practical experience.9

Having an organisational culture which supports whole of government work is a key to success

Case study participants emphasised the importance of 'getting the process right'. Leadership, relationship building, trust and good-quality communication were seen as central to successful whole of government work. There are also implications for human resource development in areas such as relationship management, interagency project management and knowledge management.

There are various flexible and innovative ways APS agencies can work together to get good whole of government outcomes

New ways of working together are required, characterised by:

  • leadership for activities being shared or one agency having a clearly identified leadership role involving the work of other agencies
  • a focus on expertise and relationships, rather than on the status of individuals or organisations
  • an increased focus on flexible team processes and outcomes, rather than structures and rules
  • resources being pooled cooperatively when necessary
  • a focus on whole of government outcomes, rather than portfolio 'turf' protection.

Whole of government approaches require more than the capacity to manage horizontally across portfolios. They require a shared understanding across organisational boundaries of the government's broad policy objectives. The implications point to the need for a strong culture of collaboration and responsiveness to ministers and the government's broad agenda, as well as one of professional expertise.

Governance, budget and accountability frameworks

Tailored frameworks are important

Governance arrangements need to be tailored to particular whole of government objectives. This may involve creating new structures such as the Australian Greenhouse Office or Centrelink, or better management across existing structures through taskforces and project teams. Budgeting and accountability frameworks need to support whole of government priorities from the inception stage of a project (before Cabinet decisions are taken) through to implementation.

There is strong agreement that clearly defined accountability arrangements are important for successful whole of government work.10 Planning is considered an important aspect, as many challenges are able to be resolved early in the process.11 The literature also identifies risk management as increasingly important to the whole of government approach. The aim is to have fewer surprises, fewer direct costs and a better understanding of risks.12

There is a tension between horizontal collaboration and vertical accountability

A particular challenge is to improve cross-agency coordination and collaboration while maintaining vertical accountability. One approach to this is the reporting arrangements for the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO). Part of the Environment and Heritage portfolio, AGO is legally accountable to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, but under the Prime Minister's instruction, is jointly administered with the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources.

Another approach is the reporting arrangements of the Natural Resource Management (NRM) Team. The NRM Team is responsible for the Australian Government's strategy on sustainable use and conservation of land, water, soil and vegetation resources. The NRM Team has two secretaries sharing leadership of the venture-the heads of the Departments of the Environment and Heritage, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Vertical accountability is maintained by each agency having sole responsibility for particular budget appropriations. Horizontal coordination at the top is achieved through a ministerial board.

An emerging issue: a move from traditional hierarchies to the establishment of networks and partnerships

One of the issues emerging for public sectors, both nationally and internationally, is the move away from traditional hierarchies to establishing networks and partnerships with other key players, such as the non-government sector. As more citizens and their representative groups become involved in providing policy advice, assisting with program design and delivering services, the public service focus will move from arrangements based around contract management to also include collaboration and establishing alliances.

Maximising information and communications infrastructure

Information sharing is essential...

Information sharing is essential. For the more integrated approaches, there may be significant technological challenges (e.g. compatibility of systems, security, and privacy) and substantial costs. There is, however, a strong case to be 'integration-ready' through common standards and shared investment in high-priority data collections and definitions. It is also important to maximise the potential of technology for more seamless service provision.

Improving government's engagement with individuals and communities

More and more external players are involved in government policy making.

Governments are increasingly choosing partnerships to respond to citizen demands to improve access and convenience through seamless service delivery.13 More sophisticated service delivery approaches are being developed but they are not without challenges. The challenges include 'turf' tensions, technological problems, managing increasing expectations and partnership issues, including coordination of resources and accountability.14

Involvement in policy development and service delivery from the non-government sector and community is increasing in Australia. As Edwards notes, this highlights the need for public servants to attain skills to be 'partnership ready'15, including developing a common language for a whole of government project, clarifying expectations and agreeing on dispute resolution processes. The literature also identifies that genuine involvement of people affected by government decisions is a high priority for successful whole of government approaches (see Literature Review, Appendix 3).

The importance of wider engagement is demonstrated in a number of the case studies. These include Goodna Service Integration Project, the COAG Indigenous Trials and the regional delivery of the government's key natural resource management programs. This experience also demonstrated that whole of government projects bring heightened requirements for pre-project planning so that there is shared understanding between government agencies and communities. There is a need to be strategic about the way projects are designed and delivered.

Building the capacity to respond quickly and effectively to emerging issues and future crises

Skills must be well-honed to respond to crises or to difficult international negotiations. international agreements

A whole of government capacity is essential in the effective handling of emerging issues and crisis situations. This is particularly pertinent in the current international security environment and to the negotiation of complex

Australian performance in responding to such situations as the Olympic Games, bushfires and other natural disasters, the Bali bombings, border protection and security, as well as in negotiations involving global and bilateral trade and environment agreements has generally been positive. A feature of these responses is rapid and flexible resource deployment and marshalling different agencies and organisations. The APS needs to maintain and build on this capacity and preparedness-as well as translate the lessons learnt to other whole of government endeavours.

The Olympic Games and the response to the Bali bombings both offer examples of creative responses to unprecedented demands. One of the keys to success was using existing structures, hierarchies and chains of command to ensure efficient responses.

The rest of this report

Chapter 2 identifies the structural options available to address these issues and considers when each is likely to be most effective in supporting whole of government outcomes.

Chapter 3 focuses on organisational culture and personal skills as critical 'make or break' factors in contributing to success in whole of government work.

Chapter 4 looks at the contribution that information and communications infrastructure makes to the way government conducts its whole of government business. The chapter builds on work undertaken by the Management Advisory Committee in 2002 to investigate Australian government use of information and communications technology.16

Chapter 5 identifies budget and accountability arrangements as another enabler of whole of government work. Although resourcing and accountability are daily priorities for most people in the APS, they can present new challenges in a whole of government environment.

Chapter 6 focuses on engagement beyond the Australian government to achieve better results for Australian communities. It offers practical advice for better engagement with individuals and communities and other interest groups, and touches on cooperation with other jurisdictions.

Chapter 7 examines lessons from whole of government responses to crises.

The appendices outline the terms of reference for the project, issues raised in the literature, a bibliography and summaries of the case studies conducted.

1 The peak intergovernmental forum in Australia is the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), chaired by the Prime Minister. COAG comprises the Prime Minister, State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). It first met in December 1992. The Secretariat for COAG is located within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The role of COAG is to initiate, develop and monitor the implementation of policy reforms which are of national significance and which require cooperative action by Australian governments.

2 The concept of network governance suggests a more in-depth focus and concern about the relationships and processes, both within bureaucracy and with other organisations.

3 EA Lindquist, 2000, 'Preconceiving the Centre: Leadership, Strategic Review and Coherence in Public Sector Reform', in Government of the Future, OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development), OECD, Paris, pp. 149-84.

4 HC Coombs (Chairman), Report of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration, AGPS, Canberra, 1976.

5 HC Coombs, op.cit.

6 John Howard, '2002 Address To The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth', Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Western Australia, 19 July 2002.

7 Cabinet Office (United Kingdom), Electronic Services for the 21st Century, 2000a; Cabinet Office (United Kingdom), Reaching Out: The Role of Central Government at Regional and Local Level, 2000b.

8 T Ling, 'Delivering Joined Up Government in the UK: Dimensions, Issues and Problems', Public Administration, 80(4), 2002, pp. 615-42.

9 See, for example: Cabinet Office (United Kingdom), 1999b, Services first: joined up public services, <www.servicesfirst.gov.uk/1999/joinedup/joinedup.htm>; T Ling, op.cit.; E.A Lindquist, 'Culture, Control or Capacity? Meeting Contemporary Horizontal Challenges in Public Sector Management', School of Administration, University of Victoria, Canada, 2001; Institute of Public Administration of Canada, Clients Speak: A Report on Single Window Government Services in Canada, Ontario, Canada, 2002.

10 A Thurley, 'Whole-of-government outcomes', Canberra Bulletin of Public Administration, vol. 106, February 2003, pp. 30-35.

11 T Fitzpatrick, 'Horizontal Management-Trends in Governance & Accountability', Action Research Roundtable on the Management of Horizontal Issues, Canadian Centre for Management Development, 2000.

12 Cabinet Office (United Kingdom), 2002,Risk: improving government's capability to handle risk and uncertainty. Full report-a source document, Strategy Unit report, London, <www.pm.gov.uk>; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Emerging Risks in the 21st Century: An Agenda for Action, OECD Publications Service, Paris, 2003, 27 pages.

13 Ling, (op.cit): Canadian Centre for Management Development, 2000, (op.cit).

14 C Bacon, 'Integrated Local Service Systems', The international Journal of Public Sector, Vol 11, Issue 6; S Bent, K Kernaghan, & D Marson, Innovations and Good Practices in Single-Window Service, Citizen Centred Service Network, Canadian Centre for Management Development, 1999.

15 M Edwards, 'Public sector governance: Future issues for Australia', Australian Journal of Public Administration, 61(2), 2002, pp. 51-61.

16 MAC Report 2, Australian Government Use of Information and Communications Technology: A New Governance and Investment Framework Australian Public Service Commission, Canberra, 2002.