Working to make government more effective


International Delivery: Centres of government and the drive for better policy implementation

How can heads of government effectively turn election pledges and policy proposals into real changes on the ground?

Policy implementation failures attract international headlines and undermine the credibility of political administrations. With national elections in both the UK and Canada in 2015, the Institute for Government has partnered with the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre to look at how heads of government and their immediate support systems can effectively turn election pledges and policy proposals into real changes on the ground.

Historically, centres of government have devoted far more attention to advising and supporting policy formulation than they have to implementation. This is changing. International Delivery offers an international survey of the central machinery that is emerging to support policy implementation. Four global trends are identified:

  1. Implementation planning: Ensuring that policy development across government is more alert to the practical realities of implementation by centrally scrutinising the feasibility of departmental policy proposals and training policy professionals in implementation planning.
  1. Chasing progress: Keeping departments focused on implementing key policy priorities by establishing central delivery units that scrutinise performance.
  1. Major projects management: Improving the performance of large-scale, high-risk projects by introducing or strengthening central assurance systems, as well as centrally co-ordinating the deployment of project delivery expertise.
  1. Evaluation: Raising evaluation standards by centrally monitoring departmental evaluation activities, offering technical assistance, and professionalising the government-wide evaluation function.

International Delivery highlights the relative strengths and weaknesses of both the UK and Canadian government in these areas. While these two countries have similar government institutions and parliamentary systems, they face very different capability gaps at the centre.

Institute for Government

Related content

04 JUL 2014 Report

Centre Forward

This report looks at how successive prime ministers have all had to grapple with the central machine to get a system that works best for them.

15 JUL 2014 Report

Doing them Justice

This report focuses on how to improve the implementation of social justice policy and identifies eleven lessons for ministers and officials.