'Much is going well in government, now the culture change'

Trust in government is falling. There is much criticism of the corporate governance of public services. This is unsurprising, as people have different expectations of governments than companies.

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This is normal because people expect governments to be different from companies. First and foremost, the government is there to provide good services to citizens. Relying too much on systems risks losing sight of the human dimension. The result is comprehensive, media-attributed cases where government services have gone off the rails, such as the benefits affair.

Shifting attention to more minor—and less mediagenic—abuses can nip problems in the bud in good time without overhauling the entire system. After all, the vast majority of what the government does goes well.

People are in danger of losing sight too quickly of the fact that 'running government like a business' has many advantages; by emphasising efficiency and standardisation, the government can do its work more decisively and quickly. Abolishing the current efficient way of working would be tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, we should work to change the culture so that there is room to pay more attention to people who are left out. Officials must be given the opportunities and confidence to act on a human scale.

This calls for a different mode of governance, where officials are less judged by strictly following the rules and can instead help exceptional cases in the spirit of the law without personal risk. This vests different competencies and skills in professionals within the government.