Understanding the Complexity of Government ‚’ ‚’To Govern is to Choose‚’

The pandemic has driven significant developments in transparency around the trade-offs presented to Governments when seeking to balance the health, economic and social impacts of Covid 19 (Covid/NHS dashboards, more prominent economic data etc). This transparency has been accompanied by what appears to be significantly more (and generally more informed) public debate from a variety of sources, on the real life choices available to Government and Devolved Administrations that appear to have led to a wider acceptance of or compliance with many of the ‚’big picture‚’ decisions made. Anecdotally at least, it seems that the greater understanding and visibility brought about by transparency has better informed the general public about the inherent complexity involved in governing and making choices about public policy (e.g. how to spend finite resources).

This development is not about open data per se (which is already established as an agenda in its own right) ‚’ it‚’s about how government proactively demonstrates its decision making process and uses transparency to illustrate and inform debate in complex areas, leading to greater buy-in from the public for the decision taken.

There now exists an opportunity to assess first of all whether the proposition above is, in fact, true and further to consider the implications of this for policy making and governing in future; how might public policy and public service delivery be different if every service/department/policy had the same degree of transparency and common understanding that we now have around Covid case numbers, hospital admissions or source of infection? How might Governments across the UK make use of a new-found wider appreciation of how hard governing is when seeking to promote, explain and implement their policies? How can this thinking on the process of weighing up competing and relative priorities impact government in general?




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