Strategies, missions and the challenge of whole of government action

Paper by Geoff Mulgan: “Every government is, in reality, a flotilla of many departments, agencies, tiers rather than a single thing.  But all aspire to greater coherence. ‘Whole of government’ approaches – that mobilise and align many ministries and agencies around a common challenge – have a long history: during major wars, and around attempts to digitize societies, to cut energy use, to reduce poverty and to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. These have been described using different terms – national plans, priorities, strategies and missions – but the issues are similar.

This paper, linked to a European Commission programme on ‘whole of government innovation’ (launching on 16 April in Brussels) looks at the lessons of history and options for the future.  Its primary focus is on innovation, but the issues apply more widely. The paper outlines the tools governments can use to achieve cross-cutting goals, from strategic roles to matrix models, cross-cutting budgets, teams, targets and processes, to options for linking law, regulation and procurement. It looks at partnerships and other structures for organising collaboration with business, universities and civil society; and at the role of public engagement…(More)”.