|Each year governments around the world are challenged to balance their budgets, and it seems each year they look at the same two solutions – either increasing taxes or reducing government spending by reducing services. Yet, there is a third alternative, and that is to find more creative and innovative ways of delivering programs and services.
The following paragraphs describe six related activities that will create a cultural paradigm shift.
Introduce such new tools as Social Impact Bonds and expand the use of current tools such as public-private partnerships, pilot projects, and demonstration projects. Each of these should be used to introduce and explore new innovative and creative ways to deliver current programs and services. They should also approach this in a more efficient and effective manner that clearly realizes actual financial savings to the overall government budget.
Challenge all public and private programs and service providers (including health care, education, higher education, and social services) to propose more innovative and creative ways of providing current services that ensure the level and quality of service, yet clearly reduces the actual cost. The first step in this regard is to have each department conduct a basic analysis of all programs and services delivered on its behalf to determine unit costs. For example, what does it cost to replace a knee or deliver a year of education. This basic analysis will help make providers, department personnel, elected officials, and the public more aware of what the actual cost is for each program and service. It will also help to determine where they are getting the best bang of the taxpayer’s buck.
Ensure that the public is able to make more informed and objective decisions of where to obtain government sponsored programs and services in health, education, social sciences, etc. by establishing a public website for each department. Each website will provide comparative and objective information about each provider. This will further increase accountability and make government more transparent.
Move away from an essentially singular provider of programs and services, such as in education and health care to one where the public has many choices of public and private providers. Establish a policy stating that where the public goes, so does the government’s financial support. This change will create a competitive environment that focuses service providers’ attention more on quality of service and customer satisfaction.
Challenge all individuals who are responsible for either monitoring or delivering programs and services to strengthen their leadership, management, and innovative skills.
Celebrate and reward government department personnel as well as specific organizations and individuals who clearly contribute to the creation of this new culture.
It is firmly believed that by taking the above action, the government will create a new paradigm shift in how service providers approach budgets and deliver service.