EY - Public service commissioning: a catalyst for change

Better citizen outcomes

Public service commissioning: a catalyst for change

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At its core, commissioning is about creating new ways to leverage value and improve delivery of public services. It refers to the way governments and the public sector can allocate available resources – through the right mix of government, private and not for profit involvement – to secure and deliver services which meet public policy objectives while also providing sustainable value for citizens and the economy.

We believe the adoption and use of public service commissioning provides a powerful catalyst to making a radical change in public service delivery. This means creating an increasingly mixed public service market in which contestability, competition and collaboration between public, private and non-government service providers is actively encouraged.

This new reality builds on previously used contracting arrangements such as outsourcing, private financing and privatisation, but much more is needed. Commissioning ways of the past will no longer cut it. New models are needed.

In this new world, while the public service still has a role to play in service delivery, it is increasingly being required to transition from being a doer to being an enabler and a creator, steward and regulator of public service markets.

New ideas are needed, but the ability to execute is essential

Committing to implementing commissioning is only the beginning. The ability to execute successfully is what will separate the winners from the losers. Learning from the experience of others is vital.

We believe that many of the key drivers, thinking and elements evident in the implementation of public service commissioning in the UK already exist in Australia and New Zealand, but are not as mature nor as pressing as in the UK where despite years at it, they are embracing commissioning faster and harder than ever before.

Making change happen

Commissioning provides governments with the opportunity to meet the challenge of rising community expectations and falling funding by looking for new ways to provide better services. However, translating the concept into reality requires a fundamental shift in thinking, skills and approach.

There are no short cuts. This is especially true for governments wanting to move beyond the experimental phase and start embedding commissioning at the core of how public services are conceived, delivered and managed.

It is however possible to learn from those who are further down the path to minimise the associated risks and accelerate the implementation process. We look forward to working with you as you embark on a new reality in public service delivery.

To find out more, download the full report (pdf, 1.3mb).