There has been an increasing trend in the review of public sector bodies over the last decade. The reviews have been conducted by a variety of bodies - internal to the department, external to the department, internal to the public service and external to the public service.
Understanding the 'frames of reference' or 'conceptual lenses' through which different types of review bodies view organisational problems is particularly important. In assessing the impact of such reviews it is important to recognise the extent to which the experience, beliefs and values of the members of a review team colour the way they see a problem and the choice of solution proposed.
In detennining whether to choose a review by an internal or external body, governments need to be aware of the 'conceptual lenses' employed by different bodies so as to make an informed choice as to the 'best' body to conduct the review. If it can be demonstrated that there are internally consistent frames of reference employed by groups but multiple frames of reference depending upon the particular profession or sector from which the review group is drawn, it demonstrates that composition and methodology could have a significant impact upon the outcome. Further, past decisions and solutions can be more easily explained if there is a detailed understanding of the particular perspective brought to bear on a problem.
In order to demonstrate that what you see depends on where you stand two reviews of the Office of the Director of Prosecutions in Queensland are examined. In terms of organisational structure, the recommendations of the review teams are quite different. The difference in solutions to problem is then examined to determine whether it could be caused by differing tenns of reference or differing composition of the review teams, bringing different frames of reference.
After analysis of the reports of the two reviews, it is suggested that the different tenns of reference is not a plausible factor in explaining the different solutions proposed by the teams. The more likely explanation is that the composition of the review team has influenced the perception of the problem and the proposed solution.
An understanding of the way in which the 'conceptual lenses' through which an organisation is seen can affect the framing of the problem and the solution, and of the manner in which particular frames of reference may be associated with different organisations or professions, leads to the conclusion that the ideal approach to identifying and solving problems is a multidisciplinary one. In the context of organisational reviews in the public sector, teams comprising public and private sector members, external and internal to the organisation and its environment who are brought together for the purpose of a specific review is likely to provide a view of the organisation and its problems from all angles.