Drivers of Change in Public Service Since 1970

Delivery of public service has undergone tremendous changes since the 1970s all over the world; some countries embrace these changes faster than others, but changes nonetheless. There are many things that have been altered. For example, in the 1970s one had to queue up for a long time in order to be served but today this is past that we can only imagine. With the new technology, the services are faster and much more efficient. There are many drivers of change that led to the reform of the way public service was delivered since the 1970s. Today, most people focus on many parameters to gauge the public service efficiency. These include speed, engagement, responsiveness of the used mechanisms, does the customer get value for their money, does the service delivery integrates different section, what choices does the customer have, and is the service delivery personalized enough to give the best experience ever. This paper examines the factors that have driven change in public service since the 1970s. In particular, the paper analyses factors, such as the development of IT, public sector reform agenda, need to attract investments, budgetary constraints, need for accountability, political changes, role of management consultants and their influence on the growth of the public sector within the highlighted period.


Development of Information Technology

Evans, John, and Paula note that rapid development in the technology sector has brought tremendous economic growth for many countries around the world. With the rapidly growing levels of information and technology, the public delivery service is not an exception. Public service brings forth many changes in how services are being delivered today. In the 1970s, most of the work was carried out using people. However, today, due to information technology progress, the tasks done have been cut down by a half. Additionally, economic development has also led to the availability of new technical solutions in various fields. Most governments have adopted technology in provision of services to the public. Brown & Osborne established that e-governments have provided the regular ones with unique ways of offering services to the population. Generally, there is better efficiency of work being done nowadays. The records are clearer and arranged in a manner that makes work easier. Even for those who do not quite understand technology, it has been perfected for them since everything is a click away.

Public Sector Reform Agenda

Every government all over the world is facing hard task of ensuring that they are able to achieve the United Nations' millennium goals, which directly affects the delivery of public service. This fact has led to the tremendous changes in how the public sector delivers its services. This is a factor that has driven most governments to privatize their public sector in order to improve their delivery of public service.

Global Competition for Investments

Most countries have to attract investors to enable them to fund their economic growth. Thus, the lion's share of investors considers the efficiency of public service delivery in a country before deciding whether to invest or not. This ensures that most developing countries keep updating their public service delivery so as to gain investors in the competitive market.

The basis of comparison is mainly the private sector. One must also reduce prices as well as they must have a balanced approach for customers' needs to be fulfilled and also achieve efficiency in the delivery of public service. Due to this fact, the global competition for investments has been a big driving force for a reform in the delivery of services.

Budgetary Constraints

In the 1970s, many developed or developing countries were undergoing economic and fiscal crises. This brought about their need for reducing budgets to fit the available amount of money. They also had to reduce the public sector budget. Moreover, they had to carry out a few reforms within the delivery of public service. With the constantly dwindling amount of money being put into the public service, it is important for the governments to ensure that they have increased the efficiency and the number of different services they provided. 

Other change was allocating money while the public sector was completely ignored. Even if the governments did try to increase the amount of money, it would have resulted in taxes increase, which would have caused uproar among the citizens. Therefore, they had to change the public service delivery. This was mainly measured with the quality of service provided as well as its cost.

Increased Public Awareness

Burton affirms that improved access to education together with technological improvements give more rights for the population in many countries. Today, many people understand their rights and are aware of what they deserve. The media has also propelled this fact making it easier for people to understand that the public sector should improve services it provides to meet the required standards. This has therefore been a driving force for the reform of most of the services provided by the public sector.

Need For Accountability and Transparency

According to Peters & Jon, increased illiteracy levels among the population, especially in developing countries, has contributed positively to the growth and the efficiency of service delivery in the public sector. It is easier to determine any errors today than it was in the 1970s, thus to require a public sector reform since many people want to understand and also demand a greater accountability and transparency in the public service delivery. Considering this fact, people expect better returns and much more efficient services than they used to have. The media has also been able to fuel the need for this by providing media and social activism. Consequently, nowadays all these changes increase the demand for the accountability and transparency and bring about reforms in delivery of public service.

Good Governance Requirements

In the 1970s, there were very few laws that made public offices to adhere to specific standards. However, as time went on, the United Nations brought forth concerns about the manner in which public service has being delivered. They put up measures and goals that were to be achieved in order to improve public service delivery. This propelled changes in the public service sector as every nation strived for achieving these goals and meeting the requirements. To the United Nations, the delivery of public service was one of the measures to determine if a certain country had good governance.

Changes in the Political Context

In the 1970s, there were many political changes happening all over the world. There was political instability in many developing countries that made public service delivery much harder. In some developed countries with changing governments and the like, every public service sector was quite a gamble since each sector brought about different rules. Therefore, there had to be many changes at that time. In contrast to this, the developing countries, especially in Africa, made very few reforms in public service delivery in the 1970s and 1980s due to political instability and political inaction. However, as time went by, this was changed and there were various reforms that brought about changes in public service delivery.

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Influence of Neoliberal Ideas and Criticisms of the Old Public Administration

In the 1970s, many criticisms were brought forward by neoliberals to the old public administration and to the way they conducted public services delivery. They were able to bring forth a huge argument that challenged their working methods. Consequently, this caused them to ensure that the reforms were made to improve public service.

Growth and Role of Management Consultants

In the 1970s, there were few change agents such as international management consultants, accountancy companies, and international financial institutions that brought about major reforms in the public sector. They were able to determine the faults and find the ways to fix them and to improve their efficiency. In developed economies, they brought forth a huge wave of pressure for the reforms to be done. They were thus another major driving force for those reforms occurring in the delivery of public service. In conclusion, there are several factors that led to the change of the way how public service is being delivered since the 1970’s. These factors are as follows: global competition for investments, information technology, customer awareness, etc. 


The public service is the backbone of any government in any jurisdiction. This is because public sector acts as a vital appendage through which the governments interact with the population and provides them with the important services. Since the 1970s, the need for more accountable governments for their people has been increasing. On the other hand, the need for governments' providing good services to the population has also been on the rise. As a result, the public sector has undergone profound changes since the 1970s. All these changes were directed to better service delivery. This scenario is likely to continue because public needs do change and the governments always must ensure that their employees, the people that is, get excellent services. However, there is need for close monitoring of public resources. Even with good governance structures and legal frameworks in place, the public sector still leads to resources wastage and falls behind in terms of accountability.  

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