Against a backdrop of growing uncertainty, including ongoing COVID-19 recovery, increased inflation, budgetary pressures, volatility caused by global conflicts, and mass industrial action, governments are being forced to evolve, adapt, and respond.
How have governments responded to these challenges? And, looking forward, how can they unlock opportunity from adversity? These are the key questions that Global Government Forum and PA Consulting investigate in the Responsive Government Survey.
In 2021, the initial survey in this pioneering research project investigated the responsiveness and agility of public and civil services around the world, asking officials to self-assess their confidence in their organisations’ contingency plans and adaptability. The 2021 results, drawn from 873 survey responses, provided unrivalled insight into perceptions of governments’ responsiveness in the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. While public and civil servants had pride and confidence in their departments and their work, the systems and culture of government could often hamper progress. The report suggested that public services around the world excel at learning and responding rapidly to meet evolving citizen and end-user needs – a statement almost three quarters (72 percent) of respondents agree with. However, there were lower scores when it came to certain elements of responsiveness. For example, respondents in most countries stated they were hamstrung by unnecessary bureaucracy.
“The results… provided unrivalled insight into perceptions of governments’ responsiveness in the immediate aftermath of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The backdrop to the 2023 report is just as tumultuous as the last. Following on from our first survey, we sought to understand how government responsiveness has changed, and what needs to happen to future- proof public bodies for even greater uncertainty.
We expanded our survey to include a wider pool of respondents at varying levels of seniority, gathering the views of 1,796 public and civil servants across nine different countries.
Combined with the insights of subject matter experts, our research uncovers five key priorities for governments to ensure they improve their responsiveness in the face of unprecedented change. Our findings also provide a baseline against which to track future progress.
We are grateful to all who participated in the survey and the experts who contributed to the writing of this report.
Shaun Delaney, global head of public sector, PA Consulting
Richard Johnstone, executive editor, Global Government Forum
“Following on from our first survey, we sought to understand how government responsiveness has changed, and what needs to happen to future-proof public bodies for even greater uncertainty.”