Gap between evidence and action
Why is it, we might ask, that there is so often a gap between what governments do and what evidence tells them they ought to do?
This article presents the authors views on why this happens:
- Fundamentalist thinking (ideological or religious, for example) leads to watertight beliefs which evidence-based arguments can’t penetrate.
- Vested interests are too powerful and distort decisions.
- Caution about potential risks leads to avoiding an evidence-based solution.
- Pushing a position without enough evidence or applying spin to the data compromises the evidence itself and erodes trust.
- People have different priorities and the government cannot meet all of them.
- Poor communication of the evidence-based policy and its benefits to Ministers determines the outcome – failure at the last hurdle.
Māori and Pākehā do think differently, but this does not prevent strong relationships
This is a refreshing article written by Dame Anne Salmond, helping us to understand how our different world views impact our thinking. She talks about some of the contrasts, for example:
- Analytical versus relational logic.
- Bounded entities (grids and heirarchies) versus dynamic networks.
- Binary of individualist and collectivist – compared with Te Tiriti o Waitangi where both individuals and groups are important.
- How important it is to give mana to the needs of the other.
As she says, “Any good relationship requires mutual respect and reciprocal exchanges – tuku atu, tuku mai. If it is possible to see that reasonable people may reason differently, this might help to bring dignity and honour to our debates over Te Tiriti o Waitangi”.
A deep failure of accountability
The British Post Office scandal associated with faulty IT accounting software has affected many people, with postmasters being wrongly accused of theft. There are lessons about how large contracts in public organisations are managed and overseen, and about the importance of clear lines of accountability.
The UK Institute for Government has drawn out six key lessons in this article – here are some of them:
- Public servants may outsource service but must never outsource their personal judgement.
- Complex, arms-length governance systems must always ensure a clear point of accountability to an individual.
- Public servants managing procurement contracts must be as senior and sophisticated as their private sector counterparts, but often are not.
- Never have blind faith in automated systems, they always require wise, human oversight.
Public servants must ‘fear less’
This article gives the message that public servants need to ‘fear less’ rather than be ‘fearless’. It implies that we need to learn the skills, and develop the character and internal fortitude, so that we can “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
Public servants should not need to be courageous, heroic or daring because they should be able to rely on the institutional foundations of their position to do their job without fear.
Something is going wrong in the system when, providing advice to government, public servants must draw deep on their courage in the face of career-ending reprisal.
It is not an individual’s responsibility to show courage. What is needed is a system that protects all public servants to ‘fear less’.
Give opposition parties more access to the public service?
In the UK the public service offers what are called ‘access’ talks to the opposition, as detailed in this article. Often occurring 12 to 16 months before an election, they present an opportunity for the public service to understand the basis of the policy positions of a potential new government, and to give key information to the opposition.
If these access meetings are held prior to the finalisation of the opposition policies, it is chance for the opposition to test ideas and the public service to give some history and experience. They make the transition to a new government smoother as some relationships and trust has been built.
Should this be implemented in Aotearoa New Zealand?
Combine Western and Indigenous knowledge to combat the climate crisis
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that effective climate resilience develops from a foundation of diverse values and worldviews, including Indigenous knowledge. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade supports a research partnership to further this thinking.
There is evidence that traditional knowledge can support communities and policymakers to address the climate crisis.
“For centuries, Indigenous peoples have been surviving in an extreme environment by using their traditional knowledge that provides alternative ways to protect nature and cope with extreme environmental conditions,” Dr Dalila Gharbaoui (University of Canterbury) says.
“This form of knowledge needs to be integrated with formal science and technology to support our future survival.” Read more here.
NEW DATES - Effective Engagement with Māori - Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 April , all day, Wellington
Do you want to build your knowledge and confidence for engaging with Māori? If so this workshop is for you!
Presented by Piripi Winiata, who recently facilitated the Rangatahi forum at the Māori King's Hui ā Motu, the Effective Engagement with Māori workshop is designed to help public servants gain a greater understanding of Te Ao Māori (Māori world view), Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and develop practical tools for effectively engaging with Māori.
For more information or to register for this workshop visit our website.
Parliament in Practice - Wednedsay 3 April, all day, Wellington
Are you, or is someone in your team, new to the public sector? If so this introductory level seminar is for you!
Parliament in Practice is designed for departmental and crown entity kaimahi. It provides attendees with a unique opportunity to learn about the operations of Parliament, from those working within Parliament walls, and who are tasked with overseeing the roles and functions of Parliament.
For more information or to register for this seminar visit our website.
Deloitte State of the State: Exploring the capabilities to navigate uncertainty - Tuesday 27 February, 5.30pm, Wellington and online
Join us as we explore the strategic capabilities required for Aotearoa to face global megatrends and secure a positive future for the country at this interactive panel discussion between Carolyn Tremain, Chief Executive at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and Mark Price, Global Government and Public Services Consulting Lead at Deloitte.
For more information or to register for this event visit our website.
Ian Axford Fellowships in Public Policy welcome webinar: Rachel Levinson-Waldman - Wednesday 6 March, 12.00 - 1.00pm
In partnership with the Ian Axford Fellowships in Public Policy, IPANZ brings you a mini webinar series introducing you to the 2024 fellows and the work they will be doing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
First up we are also joined by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, who will be hosting fellow Rachel Levinson-Waldman. Rachel is the managing director of the Brennan Center's Liberty & National Security Program and while in New Zealand will be working in the realm of privacy, social media, and artificial intelligence. Rachel will be joined by Privacy Commissioner Michael Webster, Deputy Privacy Commissioner and IPANZ President Liz MacPherson.
For more information or to register for this webinar visit our website.
OPPORTUNITIES / WHAT WE ARE READING
Make the Move Learning Series by Inspiring Communities
Feeling refreshed after a break and ready to jump into 2024 and work in more relational ways? Inspiring Communities brings you this learning series that supports public sector professionals to create the conditions for community-driven change. Change that will have a positive and lasting impact. You can find out more information here.
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