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Article Article June 11th, 2015

Impact Imperative: a global dialogue about turning government ideas into impact

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Government leaders from across four continents came together to discuss how government can turn ideas into positive public impact.

Sir Michael Barber, co-chairman of the Centre for Public Impact, opened the conversation by underlining that public impact is an issue that resonates around the world. “Government matters and we all depend on government being effective – whether you want big government or small government, what matters is effectiveness.”

Dr Silvia Montoya, director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, stressed the importance of data in driving effective decision-making. “We need to change mindsets on data,” she said before calling on fellow policymakers to “move from being producers of data to users of data”- something which is already happening in Buenos Aires, according to Carolina Stanley. The city’s social development minister pointed out that “poverty in Latin America can now be measured much better than ten years ago”.

Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland, agreed that data needs to play a pivotal role in 21st century government. “Open data is important but so is open analysis,” he said. “This is not just about getting things done, it’s about restoring public trust.”

The private sector, too, has a role to play, according to Ada Osakwe. The former senior investment advisor to Nigeria’s agriculture minister went on to argue that governments need to adopt “a laser like focus on citizens” – a point echoed by Jocelyn Bourgon, president of Public Governance International. Bourgon, whose extensive public service career included a stint as Canada’s top civil servant, added that public servants now face “complex problems in complex environments” and that there is now a greater need to address cross-cutting issues across departments.

For Mamphela Ramphele, a former managing director of the World Bank and government leader in her native South Africa, it’s time to go back to basics. Building trust between public servants and citizens holds the key to public impact – both now and in the future.

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