Planning for Development: Public Administration
United Nations Public Administration Network
The Division for Public Administration and Development Management of
the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations was
entrusted by the General Assembly in late 1999 to develop and implement
an important programme entitled 'United
Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN)',
(originally referred to as the United Nations Online Network in Public
Administration and Finance).
UNPAN is designed to help countries, especially developing countries
and countries in economic transition, to respond to the challenges that
governments face in bridging the digital divide between the 'haves and
have-nots' and to achieve their development goals.
The immediate objective of UNPAN is to establish an internet-based
network that links regional and national institutions devoted to
public administration, thereby facilitating information exchange,
experience sharing, and training in the area of public sector policy
The long-term objective of UNPAN is to build the capacity of these
regional and national institutions, so that they can access, process
and disseminate relevant information by means of up-to-date
information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the promotion of
better public administration.
| From Ethos -
Issue 4, April 2008
...However, there is now a sense that the low-hanging fruits of public
service reform and efficiency gains have been mostly identified, if not
harvested. Is it enough to make public service delivery and government
transactions ever faster, less onerous or more courteous? Professor B.
Guy Peters argues that the relationship between public servants and the
citizens they serve needs to be re-examined and perhaps restated. Ng
Wee Wei, from the Accenture consultancy group, proposes outcome targets
for public service based on the delivery of social value, and The
Honourable Jocelyne Bourgon from Canada believes that it is time for
governments to define a fundamentally new model of public service that
matches today’s complex challenges which cut across many different
sectors of activity...
Public administrations are a vehicle for expressing the values and
preferences of citizens, communities and societies. The past thirty
years have been a rich period of experimentation in public
administration, aimed at making government more efficient, effective,
productive, transparent and responsive. It was also a period where much
was learned about the importance of good governance and the shared
responsibilities of the private sector, the public sector, civil
society and citizens to ensure a high standard of living and quality of
life. As a result, the current practice of public administration is no
longer entirely consistent with the Classic model. Yet, practitioners
do not have a modern, integrated theory adapted to today’s
circumstances. It is time to integrate the core values of the past with
the lessons of the last thirty years to develop a new synthesis of
public administration to guide practitioners serving citizens in the
Not Just Service Delivery
B. Guy Peters
In the past several decades, governments have become increasingly aware
of the importance of good service delivery to their citizens. Faced in
some cases with manifestly poor quality services, as well as with
numerous claims of inefficiency and ineffectiveness, leaders in the
public sector have invested a great deal of energy in improving the
quality of public services. This improvement has come about in part by
outsourcing services, following the adage of the New Public Management
that governments are better at steering than at rowing. For those
public services that have remained directly in the public sector,
however, quality has been a major concern and there have been numerous
efforts to make those services both more efficient and more
satisfactory for the public.
Creating and Measuring
Public Service Value
Ng Wee Wei
Governments around the world are putting pressure on their public
managers to improve service quality and deliver efficiency at the same
time: to do more, for less. After all, managers in the private sector
face similar pressures and they are expected to deal with them as a
matter of routine. Why should the same not be asked of their public
sector counterparts? The reality, however, is that there are such
significant differences between what private and public sector
organisations produce that simplistic comparisons of this kind are very
misleading. Private sector organisations exist to create value for
their shareholders. For managers in the private sector, organisational
performance is measured rather straightforwardly and objectively (but
not exclusively) in terms of financial profit or loss.
Instead of profit or loss or shareholder value, however, public service
organisations aim to generate public value: a direct and not always
immediate benefit to service recipients and the wider community of
citizens, businesses and taxpayers. That value—be it education, public
safety, health and other aspects of the public good—can be difficult to
identify and causally relate to service delivery.
Leveraging Networks for
Public Service Delivery
Nicholas Mai, Tang Tee Sing and Yeo Yaw Shin
Electronic Public Services
Better, Faster, Cheaper:
Service Transformation and Channel Migration at the Ministry of Manpower
Ten Tips: How to Create
a Next Generation Public Service Super-Portal
Service Beyond Excellence
Interview with Ng Hock Keong
Delivery: The Australian Department of Human Services
What Does It Mean to
Optimise Public Service Delivery?
Lee Chong Hock and John Lim
Book Review: Public
Services at the Crossroads
Governance at the
Leading Edge: Black Swans, Wild Cards, and Wicked Problems
At the 2008 Strategic Perspectives Conference, Head of Civil Service
Peter Ho traced the evolution of contemporary public sector practice.
He concludes that while the Public Service has successfully adopted
best practices from the private sector and elsewhere in the past, these
are not enough to ensure good governance as we move into an
unpredictable and complex future. In the following excerpt, he
highlights the nature of the challenges ahead and argues that Singapore
must develop its own new brand of governance in order to manage these
critical uncertainties and generate original solutions to the wicked
problems of our time.
Managing Complexity and
Lam Chuan Leong
Governments should make provisions for increasingly unpredictable and
disruptive outcomes in the future, argues Lam Chuan Leong, Senior
Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Leadership.
History is not without its disruptive surprises. At the end of the 19th
century, it was thought that everything that could be known had been
discovered. Yet only a few years later came the x-ray, sub-atomic
particles, nuclear fission and other discoveries that completely
changed the world.
Clearly, however, the pace and nature of disruptive change is evolving
more rapidly than ever before. It is now commonplace to assert that the
world is more complex and uncertain...
The Challenge of Growth
Interview with Paul Romer
When people think about the development process, they sometimes look
for a silver bullet, or the one policy or model that will drive growth.
I think that is too naive. The growth process is very complicated.
There are no silver bullets, no single model that everyone can copy.
Singapore is a distinctive case of successful development under unusual
conditions, so we should think of Singapore not as a model but as a
very interesting data point.
I think the Singapore Government has done the right thing by
conceptualising development around the idea of a city rather than a
nation. Singapore’s development as a financial centre à la New York or
London is well underway; perhaps Hong Kong is a little bit ahead but
there is good reason to think Singapore will keep moving up as a
financial centre. You also have a clear vision of how to grow as an
entertainment and tourist destination.
The Changing Face of
The ETHOS Roundtable with Dr Ashraf Hassan Abdelwahab, Mr Feng Tie and
Mr Mothusi Bruce Rabasha Palai
In a developing country, the government still has an extremely
important role to play in growing the economy. They have to create the
necessary environment—policies, regulations, laws—to ensure that
businesses can then take root and do what they do best. Therefore, the
issue of public service culture is an important one—they have to begin
to see their role in the bigger picture, as part of a larger economy,
and learn to be more business-oriented. In the last 30 to 40 years, we
have not emphasised enough their role as servants of the public in this
way, and it is time we went back to basics.
There are also issues of coordination across different
sectors—individual needs may involve many different pieces of
information and processes across different ministries, and we need to
achieve synergy among them.
Download full version of
Ethos as PDF
From the World Bank Group
Public Sector and
A fundamental role of the Bank is to help governments work better in
our client countries. The Public Sector Group's objectives are based on
the view that the Bank must focus more of its efforts on building
efficient and accountable public sector institutions -- rather than
simply providing discrete policy advice.
main lesson from East Asia (and to some extent Russia) is that good
not enough -- that the Bank cannot afford to look the other way when a
is plagued by deeply dysfunctional public institutions that limit
accountability, set perverse rules of the game, and are incapable of
Governance & Public Sector Reform:
- Organization - Key
Objectives - Areas
of Responsibility - Knowledge
Management - Professional
Development - Quality
Enhancements - Product
Innovations - Key