Rethinking Governance: Lessons in collaboration from environmental policy
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How can we make government work better? To say that Australia has a complicated system of government would be something of an understatement - there is a multitude of departments, agencies and authorities operating at the local, state and national level. Sometimes the functions of these organisations clash and sometimes they overlap - either option can generate major problems when delivering services. These problems were recognised by the 'Australian Governance' stream of the recently held Australia 2020 Summit. As the demands on the public sector grow, and as resources become increasingly stretched, there is a growing impetus to improve the situation. In the absence of a major restructuring of the whole federal system, one solution may be to encourage collaboration within and between different levels of government, particularly at the regional level. This paper outlines some of the key barriers to such collaboration that have been uncovered by the Engaged Government Project. It also offers some strategies for overcoming these barriers based on the author's research into environmental policy implementation across different jurisdictions under the Australian federal system. Overall it is argued that collaborative initiatives will mainly be useful when the issue to be addressed is given a sufficiently high priority, when it cuts across administrative jurisdictions, if it requires a multi-disciplinary approach, and when it requires more resources than can be provided by a single organisation. Further, collaborative projects that are undertaken will have the best chance of success if they are supported by adequate institutional communication, authority and resources.
Australian Political Studies Association Conference. Proceedings
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