Posted by Mike Smith
Ever heard about a Government decision and said “How on earth did they ….?”
The politicians and public servants who, between them, are responsible for the decisions of Australia’s Federal, State and Local governments, are not perfect; nor are the processes underpinning their decisions.
The processes of public policy-making are supposed to minimise mistakes, but there is plenty of scope for error:
- a need to act quickly, or inability to act quickly enough,
- inadequate staff or budget for thorough consultation or research,
- demands to conform with political beliefs or a Government agenda rather than reflect reality,
- senior managers or politicians unwilling to modify or be flexible in their approach,
- senior managers or politicians who are unapproachable or bullies, when receiving advice,
- senior managers or politicians prepared to toady, in hope of promotion,
- taking bad advice (e.g. incomplete, tainted, under-informed, self-serving or partial) from trusted sources or competing lobbyists,
- misjudgement: poorly evaluating risk or poorly weighing competing claims,
- bad faith or partiality or incompetence on the part of decision-makers,
and so on.
It’s unsafe to presume your most important issue will be addressed optimally by Government, with so many possible sources of error.
So, to minimise risk, you need to be inside the process, ensuring policy is well-made, policy instruments are well chosen, implementation is well planned, governance is effective, and so on.
We all want to see the best possible decisions coming out of Government: think of yourself as part of the quality control mechanism.