Public Service Reform
Since the publication of the Christie Commission of the Future of Public Services in 2011, government actors at the national and local level have been focussed on improving the relationships with and activities between institutions and agencies responsible for the design and delivery of public services. Researchers in Edinburgh and beyond have been and continue to be a major part of this effort: working directly with communities to integrate public service delivery more successfully, submitting evidence on ‘what works’ in local service delivery to the government, and helping to reinvent community planning and evaluation to improve efficiency. The coordinated work of researchers, policy professionals and public servants in Scotland continue to drive reform in this area, not only to drive down costs in the short term, but to decrease pronounced social and economic inequality in areas across the country.
AoG’s research agenda on public service reform is led by Professor James Mitchell, whose interests span public policy and political behaviour. Alongside this portfolio related to the work of the Christie Commission on the Delivery of Public Services (of which he was a member), his work also focuses on the ‘Scottish Question’. In the last two years he was founding co-director of What Works Scotland, authored a report on the future of local governance for the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (submitted by SOLACE as evidence to the Commission on Local Democracy and the Smith Commission on the further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament), co-author of a report on Procurement, Strategic Influence and Capacity Building in Community Engagement that was presented to the National Community Planning Group in December 2014. His report on cross-sectoral leadership for outcomes in the Scottish justice sector was presented to the Justice Board in April 2015. Under an ESRC Fellowship, he published The Scottish Question in June 2014 and co-edited a book of essays with Gerry Hassan on the implications of Scottish independence published in late 2013. He is currently a co-investigator on the ESRC Scottish independence referendum study and is working on a project on the Yes movement in the independence referendum.