OECD Public Governance Reviews

2219-0414 (online)
2219-0406 (print)
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This series includes international studies and country-specific reviews of government efforts to make the public sector more efficient, effective, innovative and responsive to citizens’ needs and expectations. Publications in this series look at topics such as open government, preventing corruption and promoting integrity in the public service, risk management, illicit trade, audit institutions, and civil service reform. Country-specific reviews assess a public administration’s ability to achieve  government objectives and preparedness to address current and future challenges. In analysing how a country's public administration works, reviews focus on cross-departmental co-operation, the relationships between levels of government and with citizens and businesses, innovation and quality of public services, and the impact of information technology on the work of government and its interaction with businesses and citizens.


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Skills for a High Performing Civil Service

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11 Sep 2017
9789264280724 (PDF) ;9789264280717(print)

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Civil servants make an important contribution to national growth and prosperity. Today, however, digitalisation and more demanding, pluralistic and networked societies are challenging the public sector to work in new ways. This report looks at the capacity and capabilities of civil servants of OECD countries. It explores the skills required to make better policies and regulations, to work effectively with citizens and service users, to commission cost-effective service delivery, and to collaborate with stakeholders in networked settings. The report also suggests approaches for addressing skills gaps through recruitment, development and workforce management.

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  • Foreword

    Skills for a high-performing civil service draws upon current priorities to meet public governance challenges across OECD countries. It takes a look at the changing skills needed in the civil services and presents a framework through which OECD countries can begin to assess the skills they presently have or gaps that may exist.

  • Executive summary

    Today’s civil servants are addressing problems of unprecedented complexity in societies that are more pluralistic and demanding than ever. At the same time, the systems and tools of governance are increasingly digital, open and networked. Civil servants need the right skills to keep pace.

  • Public sector skills in the search for public value

    Today’s civil servants address problems of unprecedented complexity in societies that are more pluralistic and demanding than ever. At the same time, the systems and tools of governance are increasingly digital, open and networked. Civil servants need the right skills to keep pace. This chapter looks at how the work of civil servants is changing, and presents a framework to identify which skills will be needed to produce a civil service which is fit-for-purpose today and into the future. These include skills to develop evidence based policy advice, to engage citizens for more effective service design, to commission services through third party delivery agents, and to manage in networks that extend beyond institutional borders. Each of these four skills areas contribute to a professional, strategic and innovative civil service.

  • Towards a highly skilled civil service

    Building and managing a civil service with the right skills requires a new look at public employment and management policies and frameworks, and at how people are managed in civil service. This chapter looks at the results of a recent survey on civil service management and reform to identify current practices and promising innovations in public sector people management. This includes specific focus on tools and methods to understand and identify skills gaps in the civil service, and ways to fill these gaps through targeted recruitment by promoting strategic learning and development. This chapter also looks at ways to ensure a highly skilled public sector workforce finds a home in organisations which are ready to put those skills to use.

  • The skilled civil service of the future

    This chapter presents a synthesis of the main findings of the earlier chapters, and considers lessons that can help guide civil service reform efforts aimed at advancing professional, strategic and innovative civil services. The chapter suggests the models, data and examples presented in this report show OECD countries are beginning to take steps towards updating their employment frameworks, but no guidance exists at an international level. The chapter discusses how developing the insights in this report towards an OECD recommendation on public employment will help guide countries on the investments needed to make their civil service fit-for-purpose in the twenty-first century.

  • Core skills for public sector innovation

    To meet today’s public policy challenges – continued fiscal pressures, rising public expectations, more complex public policy issues – there is a crucial need to increase the level of innovation in the public sector. There is a fundamental need to increase the level of innovation within the public sector of OECD countries and EU states if they are to meet the challenges of the 21st century, a need which has only been increased by the fiscal pressures placed on many states by the 2008-9 crisis.

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