Delivering better outcomes for citizens: practical steps for unlocking public value

Published by the HM Treasury in 2017, and based on a review led by Sir Michael Barber, this practical resource focuses on delivering better outcomes for citizens from public services. It identifies a challenge around measuring public service productivity, whereby more funding does not necessarily translate into better service provision and outcomes. A new Public Value Framework is proposed, revolving around the four pillars of: pursuing goals, managing inputs, engaging citizens, and developing system capacity.

Date added 26 October 2020
Last updated 26 October 2020

Published by the HM Treasury in 2017, and based on a review led by Sir Michael Barber, this practical resource focuses on delivering better outcomes for citizens from public services. The guidance document highlights the importance of public sector productivity, explaining how “World-class public services have a direct and lasting impact on people’s lives, be this making them healthier, safer, or better educated. Simply put, when governments deliver better services, people’s lives improve. Delivering world class public services involves turning public expenditure into outcomes that citizens value” (p. 5). However, the resource identifies a key challenge around how to measure public service productivity, whereby it is argued that more funding does not necessarily translate into better service provision and outcomes. It focuses, therefore, on "how to institute and embed continuous productivity measurement and improvement across the public sector”. To this end, a new Public Value Framework is proposed, which is a practical tool that helps to "optimise the process of turning funding into policy outcomes for citizens”, and hinges on four pillars:

  1. Pursuing goals - setting goals and indicators; degree of ambition; progress made towards goals.
  2. Managing inputs - processes to manage resources; quality of data; benchmarking; cost control and shifting.
  3. Engaging users and citizens - public taxpayer legitimacy; user experience and participation; key stakeholder engagement.
  4. Developing system capacity - innovation; planning and delivering; engaging with delivery chain; working across organisational boundaries; workforce capacity; and reviewing data and impact.

The document explains how to use the framework, and the benefits of doing so, such as creating a common language across departments, shifting attention away from inputs to also considering how to maximise public value, and to enable the sharing of best practice.