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…