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After years of hearing about what governments can’t do, shouldn’t do, or will inevitably stuff up if they try, it’s time to recapture a vision of the positive role of government and put forward an agenda for public sector reform in the 21st century. At the heart of this vision should be a public service that works in cooperation with citizens to build a fair, sustainable and democratic society.

CPD’s Public Service Research Program aims to: (1) develop a robust knowledge base about the state of public services: their funding and capacity, performance in delivering community services, and attitudes toward and expectations of the Australian Public Service;and (2) establish CPD as a credible source of research and policy development on public services in Australia and their contribution to a just and resilient society by informing and contributing to public commentary and debate.

    This program will research frameworks for public sector reform in the 21st Century that can better cope with the challenges of meeting changing community needs, delivering fair and universal public services, retaining a skilled and motivated workforce, increasing demands on public sector expenditure and the long term risks of declining revenue.

    Both within and outside the public service, many have identified a range of barriers to innovation in the public sector, including the policy development/service delivery divide, the risk-averse culture and the lack of management support. In our recent paper, Beyond the Blunt instrument: The Efficiency Dividend & its Alternatives, we argued for a change in emphasis away from efficiency dividends and narrow performance management approaches and towards measuring effectiveness in the delivery of government services.

    The Public Sector Research Program will articulate the economic and social evidence on:

    • What governments do best in directly providing public goods and services, and their role in enabling the private and community sectors to do likewise;
    • How governments can do what they do best, better;
    • How to fund governments to serve the public interest over the long term;

    … and it will place these questions within the context of the major forces driving change in the public sector over the coming decades.

    For more information contact James Whelan, our Public Service Research Director: james.whelan (at)