Around the world, there is a realisation that continuing to manage government activities in the same way will not achieve the step change required to protect public service provision into the future.
A different approach is required. One that encourages the development of a sustainable public sector economy supporting a wide range of delivery models and providers, and the market behaviours to better influence cost, quality and productivity outcomes.
By focusing on the public sector’s core activities – regulation, policy and service delivery – contestability involves rethinking the role of government and shifting the public sector mindset from ‘need to deliver’ to ‘responsible for outcome’.
We are seeing contestability frameworks being used to test government services to ensure the public is provided with the best possible outcomes at the best possible price and quality.
Effective market engagement is fundamental to this. Contestability encourages the public sector to effectively engage with the market and providers - whether private sector or not-for-profit, multinationals or small business – as well as with citizens.
These diverse connections are critical for encouraging the innovation required to deliver services for a lot less as well as to provide the services that the public really wants, not just those that they are used to getting.