Improving public sector productivity through prioritisation, measurement and alignment

As a term, productivity is a perennial topic of debate within the public sector and industry that most would describe as improved efficiency and effectiveness of an activity.

The reality however, is far more complex. Productivity has such a variety of interpretations across sectors of the Australian economy that the principles underlying a discussion about improving productivity in the public sector bear little relation to the way market focused sectors would think about the issue. The paper explores the drivers and experience of public sector productivity initiatives to date and argues that, despite the challenges of the past, productivity is relevant in the public sector context if focused around three key questions:

  • Can a collective approach for strategically prioritising government programs and activities accommodate the diversity of responsibilities held by departments across the public sector?
  • What can actually be measured as a means of determining productivity in the public sector, or is this an area for future research?
  • How can plans and strategies to reform, and therefore improve productivity, be translated into an implementation plan that actually delivers on desired outcomes?