If anyone activity has characterised public (civil) services over recent years it has been the pressure and resultant search for greater efficiency and effectiveness in operation. One can say that this search is not limited to the public sector and, in fact, it also pervades the private sector, for different reasons though. One can also say that this latter search has contributed significantly to the observed pressures within the public sector. In fact, many of the techniques and approaches are transferences from the private sector. Within the private sector the motivation for efficiency of operation is in direct relationship to profitability, which itself is a primary goal of the majority of private sector organisations. Within the public sector, the motivating mechanism is much more complex in that it is largely a response to community concerns as to the recent (post '60's) growth and proliferation of public and civil services. The measure of efficiency, in the private sector, is usually in quantitative financial terms, however, in the public sector, it can range from the quantitative to qualitative more often than not tends towards the latter. This creates considerable difficulties in evaluating the usage of measurement methods and techniques and is the primary orientation of this paper. The range of attempted solutions reflects the difficulty of determining that which is going to be successful and hence this paper's subject, a consensus model incorporating those characteristics which can be individually identified as successfully contributing to efficient and effective evaluation of public services.
A number of international approaches have come to the attention of user groups within Australia, and, as well, a number of variations have been generated in this country. This paper will firstly, examine the characteristics of the various approaches (models) and then it will draw those into a preferred model which, ideally, would be successful in the Australian context. The environmental differences and constraints are major factors in any consideration, however, the similarities between the reviewed models reduce the impact of these differences.