OECD launches open consultation on public service leadership and capability

By on 13/08/2018 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Could the OECD have the perfect set of principles to help countries create a "fit-for-purpose public service"? Have your say (Image courtesy: Nick-D).

The OECD has launched an online consultation on a set of 14 principles designed to help countries create a “fit-for-purpose public service”, with a particular emphasis on recruiting and developing suitable leaders and workforces.

The principles form a draft recommendation on public service leadership and capability, and represent the product of a year’s development work by the OECD – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). They aim to help governments across the world keep up with the rapid evolution of the public services sector, especially in their handling of human resources.

Daniel Gerson, the OECD’s project manager for public employment and management and the officer overseeing the consultation, told Global Government Forum: “We love to talk about advancing technology without taking to heart what kind of people we employ, how to organise and motivate those people, re-skill those people etcetera.”

Rethinking HR

This OECD recommendation, he explained, aims to plug that gap by covering three broad topics in its 14 principles: those of a values-driven public service; a trusted and capable public service; and a responsive and adaptive public service.

In a recent blog post on the topic, Gerson wrote: “Too often, public employment systems are seen to be too slow to bring the right skills in, too rigid to re-skill existing employees and reallocate talent to emerging areas of need. In many areas, public services suffer from legacy employment policies which were designed for another context.”

Many governments, said Gerson, are now asking: “What would it look like if we started from scratch?”

How does it fit?

A working party of senior employees from within civil services began looking in depth at the subject in 2017. Following meetings and an internal online consultation, they held a workshop to examine the outcomes in the autumn of last year. The culmination of that research process is the draft recommendation on public service leadership and capability, which they are now opening up to the public in order to hear as many voices on it as possible.

“We are open to getting input from everybody, regardless of whether they are in OECD countries or not,” Gerson says. “We’d like it to be a recommendation that resonates not only with advanced countries, but also with countries that are further back in the development of their civil service.”

Speaking to GGF, Gerson revealed that early responses indicate that some countries would like the recommendation to be more ambitious, while others feel it could be difficult to implement as it stands. In particular, the OECD is keen to hear views on how it could adapt its recommendations to fit different government systems and structures. Following feedback from the public consultation, the OECD will consider how the principles might operate in a range of government models: the challenge, says Gerson, is to “agree that these principles are the right ones for all.”

The online consultation is open until September 14. To have your say, visit https://survey2018.oecd.org/Survey.aspx?s=f8b5314038e44adbbaec39dc338b139c

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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