Friday, 24 February 2017

Interfaces: How to Connect Effectively with Citizens

an article by Alex Brenninkmeijer (Utrecht University, The Netherlands and European Court of Auditors) published in Public Administration Review Volume 77 Issue 1 (January/February 2017)

This Perspective is based upon Alex Brenninkmeijer’s Edge Talk at the 2016 conference of the European Group for Public Administration at Utrecht University.

First paragraph

When citizens interact with agencies – for taxation, social benefits, licenses, permits, and so on – the complexity of rules, procedures, and (web)formuli is a major problem. The complexity of the world of “systems” of our public sector does not easily match the world of “real lives” – the varied lives of individuals.

Administrative systems focus on regularity, equality, and the processing of huge numbers of individual cases. All elements of the administrative process are formalised. If something cannot be formalised, if it does not fit in the system, it does not exist.

Human beings value predictability, but are not made for formality. Consequently, there is a structural tension or misfit between complex administrative systems and citizens.

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