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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Together for Better Public Services: Partnering with Citizens and Civil Society

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31 Aug 2011
9789264118843 (PDF) ;9789264118812(print)

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This report analyses the partnerships that governments form with citizens, users and CSOs in order to innovate and deliver improved public service outcomes. These approaches can offer creative policy responses that enable governments to provide better public services in times of fiscal constraints.  Although co production and citizens’ involvement are still in the developmental stage in many countries, early efforts appear to lead to cost reductions, better service quality and improved user satisfaction. This report identifies the risks of citizen and user involvement in service delivery, and the barriers that must be overcome to make these models work. Top-level political commitment, adequate public sector capacity, and aligned financial incentives are the key factors for success. 

"Co-production is attracting increasing interest among scholars and practitioners alike. This report, which offers a comprehensive survey of existing practice across OECD countries, is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the state of play internationally."

-Professor John Alford, Australia and New Zealand School of Government, (author, Engaging Public Sector Clients: From Service-Delivery to Co-Production, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

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  • Foreword
    At the 2010 OECD Ministerial Meeting on Innovative and Open Government, ministers recognised the importance of drawing on the expertise and creativity of citizens and civil society to foster a more efficient, effective and innovative public sector delivering better public services without increasing costs. In 2009, the Public Governance Committee launched a two-year project on innovation in public service delivery which identified and mapped cutting-edge practices in public service delivery – as well as the drivers, obstacles and success factors behind their implementation.
  • Acknowledgements
    The Secretariat would like to thank the OECD member and non-member countries that provided input to the report by commenting on the outline, responding to the survey and/or submitting examples of co-production practices. This report would not have been possible without their contribution and commitment to this project.
  • Executive summary
    This report analyses the partnerships that governments form with citizens and CSOs in order to innovate and deliver improved public service outcomes. These approaches can offer creative policy responses that enable governments to provide better public services in times of fiscal constraints. Their implementation involves risks, which governments need to take into account for their effective implementation.
  • Transforming public service delivery
    Partnering with citizens and civil society in public service delivery has emerged today as an alternative approach to innovate public service delivery furthering some trends already underway in OECD countries. This chapter discusses the rationale, nature, scope and objectives of the OECD work on partnering with citizens and civil society in public service delivery. It also illustrates the methodology adopted including details on data collection and countries participating in the project.
  • New forms of partnership with citizens for public service delivery
    This chapter reviews the development of different theories and practices of citizen involvement in service delivery, and how they fit in the context of public sector reform. It also offers a working definition of co-production and presents the main policy context and drivers, along with the key elements of an analytical framework.
  • Overview and analysis of country practices on co-production of key public services
    This chapter provides an initial mapping of partnerships with citizens and CSOs in service delivery across OECD countries, building on the examples collected through an OECD exploratory survey. It applies the analytical models developed in Chapter 2 to a set of country examples and practices. It identifies: the extent and depth of citizen and user input in observed country practices; which services are using which types of co-production schemes; the benefits realised, including effectiveness and cost reduction; what type of barriers countries have encountered or can anticipate, and how they have dealt with them; and leading-edge practices.
  • Success factors and challenges in partnering with citizens for public service delivery
    This chapter analyses the organisational issues related to implementing partnerships with citizens and civil society organisations (CSOs) in service delivery – which have been identified by the literature review and research – and how these have been or are being addressed in practice. Building on the evidence and analysis in the previous chapters, this chapter describes the factors leading to effective co-production of public services, and identifies the risks and barriers which need to be overcome. This chapter also addresses assessing the costs and benefits associated with coproduction practices, and provides initial evidence of impact in terms of involvement, cost reduction, user satisfaction, service quality and value for money.
  • Implementing co-production in public services
    Building on the report findings, this chapter identifies elements of a roadmap for successful implementation of partnerships with citizens and CSOs in the delivery of public services, and discusses how these elements can be applied to different types of co-production. It also presents a checklist including a set of questions that could be used to guide governments’ efforts in designing and organising a delivery process using co-production. The report concludes with indications of follow-up work which can be undertaken to help OECD countries deepen their understanding of citizen involvement in public service delivery in practice.
  • Overview of country input to the research
  • Service categories covered in the study
  • Bibliography
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