The Values and Enablers of Sound Public Governance

Governance is about meeting the needs of, and improving outcomes for, people. To this end, the OECD suggests building a values-based culture of public governance. While noting that governance values are shaped by a country’s specific cultural traditions, the Framework highlights baseline practices in OECD countries that can generate a new culture of governance and orient public decision-making towards the common interest. The OECD pays special attention to:

  • Public sector integrity as a critical component to prevent corruption, safeguard democratic institutions and guarantee the rule of law.
  • Openness and transparency policies, as key ingredients to build accountability and trust, which include the accessibility of public information, the proactive disclosure of information and data, and a strategic approach to public communications.
  • Inclusiveness, participation, gender equality and diversity, which contribute to the quality of democracy and help empower marginalised, disadvantaged and/or vulnerable groups.
  • Accountability and the respect for the rule of law, which help ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of governments and public institutions, and strengthen citizens’ trust. This includes effective and efficient justice systems.

OECD work on public governance has demonstrated that leaders struggle to build “the business case” for engaging stakeholders in comprehensive reforms, which are often perceived as a means of reducing expenditures rather than of addressing policy challenges.

Despite sector-specific differences, the OECD Recommendations of the Council in the area of public governance reflect a common set of baseline enablers that can contribute to a better definition and implementation of reforms across government, including:

  • Commitment, vision and leadership, both politically and in the civil service, to ensure the sustainability of reforms across the public sector.
  • Equitable and evidence-informed policy-making, to prevent unbalanced interest-based influence while strengthening good governance in using evidence in decision-making.
  • Whole-of-government co-ordination, notably but not exclusively led by the centre of government, to ensure a coherent, integrated approach to multidimensional challenges.
  • Innovation and change management to introduce and implement new ideas by reinforcing the state’s strategic agility and its forward-looking nature while enabling it to support society in transitioning to a better future.