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Organizing for Policy Implementation: Comparisons, Lessons and Prospects for Cabinet Implementation


Cabinet implementation units have recently emerged in the UK, Australia and Queensland ... Major test awaits: changes in first ministers ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Organizing for Policy Implementation: Comparisons, Lessons and Prospects for Cabinet Implementation

Organizing for Policy Implementation
Comparisons, Lessons and Prospects for Cabinet
Implementation Units
  • Evert Lindquist, Director
  • School of Public Administration
  • University of Victoria
  • British Columbia, Canada
  • February 22, 2006

Why Implementation Units?
  • Cabinet implementation units have recently
    emerged in the UK, Australia and Queensland
  • Implementation has been a concern of policy
    designers and observers since the 1960s
  • What appears to be driving the latest interest in
    policy implementation project management?
  • What are the implications for the practice of
    project management in the public sector?
  • What does this say about the state of public
    sector governance?

The Implementation Literature
  • First wave gap between policy intentions and
    resultsan exploration of failure
  • Second wave developing theories and frameworks
    to guide implementation debates on top-down
    and bottom-up views grappling with the
    complexity of anticipating implementation
    challenges measuring impact of policy and
    program interventions
  • Third wave network, game theory
    principal-agent perspectives alignment of
    multiple instruments whole-of-government and
    multi-level governance
  • A bias against large-scale change, and very
    little exploration of the question of

Central Ecological Perspectives
  • Traditional cabinet secretariats
  • Other standing secretariats
  • Coordinating secretariats
  • Department policy adhocracies
  • Scrutiny and challenge
  • Facilitation advice
  • Downstream coordination
  • Monitoring performance

Implementation units function in congested
environments they may constitute critiques of
system capabilities.
Do implementation and delivery units focus on
upstream scrutiny or downstream monitoring?
Hypotheses to Consider
  • Meeting government commitments?
  • Asserting political control?
  • Anticipating design challenges?
  • Navigating implementation challenges?
  • Addressing political optics?
  • Cultural change in delivery agencies?
  • Each hypothesis implies different strategic
    goals, and therefore different orientations and
    capabilities in central implementation units.

Cases Three Implementation Units
  • David Richards Martin Smith (Sheffield
    University) Central Control and Policy
    Implementation in the UK A Case Study of the
    Prime Ministers Delivery Unit
  • John Wanna (ANU ANZSOG) From Afterthought to
    Afterburner Australias Cabinet Implementation
  • Anne Tiernan (Griffith University) Working
    With the Stock We Have The Evolving Role of
    Queenslands Implementation Unit

UK Prime Ministers Delivery Unit
  • Created in 2001 in response to perceived lack of
    follow-through in Joined-up Government
  • Focus on priority government initiatives in a
    highly de-concentrated service delivery
  • PMDU has mix of central and department officials
    and private sector officials about 40 FTEs
  • Reports to PM but moved to Treasury in 2002
  • Closely connected to PSA process for government
    priority initiatives (25 of 130)
  • PM involved in negotiations with departments and
    service delivery entities

Commonwealth of Australia Cabinet Implementation
  • Created by Prime Minister Howard in early 2004 on
    advice of Cabinet Secretary to ensure better
    policy implementation, project management
  • Informed by UK PMDU, but based in DPMC
  • Small group with about 10 staff not PM
  • Focus on better upstream policy design of
    initiatives on a traffic-light system for
    priority initiatives (about 30) with quarterly
    reports to Cabinet
  • Not connected to budget process, perhaps a
    reflection on DOFA priorities
  • Part of running a disciplined cabinet system and
    also associated with driving change into agencies

Queenslands Implementation Unit
  • Established by Premier Beattie in June 2004 in
    the Department Premier and Cabinet following
    several failures to implement government policies
  • Informed by PMDU CIU, but key decision to work
    through DPC desk officers (PCOs) for departments
  • Has about 15 staff with policy expertise
    monitoring key election commitments and
    encouraging policy initiatives build in good
    implementation thinking
  • Identifies and reports on Top Fifty, assists
    with Charter letters, and templates for
  • Latent function involves dealing with crisis
  • More recent focus on risk management but from
    inception has had a low-key educative ambition

Practices and Hypotheses on Roles
Observations and Lessons
  • All units were instituted by experienced first
    ministers and supported by top central officials
  • All units involved in upstream and downstream of
    decision-making, but had focused roles along with
    collaboration, and engaged in selective
  • Differences UK PMDU handles PSA negotiations and
    Queensland IU involved in policy fire-fighting,
    though has lower profile than other two
  • All units have persisted without much conflict
    and survived changes in implementation unit
  • A tool of first ministers, not for cabinets
    bolstering ministers inevitable resistance to

Final Thoughts
  • Major test awaits changes in first ministers
  • Role expansion implies working with other central
    agencies role of budget and management offices
  • Most other jurisdictions did not adopt the
    innovation of implementation units presumably
    functional equivalents exist, but judged against
    what standard?
  • First ministers have driven implementation units,
    but it is not clear if scholarly literature was
    levered, and there is much to be mined a
    challenge to scholars and leaders alike

Thank You!
For copies of this paper, contact Professor
Evert Lindquist School of Public
Administration University of Victoria Victoria,
BC, Canada