Any framework for Government cases?

Case Interview Government McKinsey
New answer on Dec 31, 2020
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Anonymous A asked on Oct 22, 2018

All current frameworks I found are for a business (incl. non-profit organizations).

While my friend encounter an case interview in McKinsey 1st round about Regional Government want to improve traffic and housing conditions... Thus I would like to ask here, is there any frameworks can be used on Government cases?

Thanks:)

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Anonymous replied on Oct 22, 2018

As with most advice on here, I would recommend that you do not memorise frameworks to simply repeat in an interview. I recently received an offer from McKinsey and also have 10 years experience in government. The general approach I took to government cases was Moore's public value triangle (you can google it). Moore's triangle has three main elements:

  1. Public value - what is the public value being created?
  2. Legitimacy and support - who will support and authorise the creation of the public value?
  3. Operational capabilities - what investments are required to create the public value?

I never used those three elements word-for-word, but instead adapated them to the case. So for example, if I was asked how I might improve traffic conditions for a regional government I might use the following structure:

  1. Objectives of traffic reduction - I would want to understand why we want to reduce traffic, who will benefit, whether there are any specific targets etc.
  2. Options analysis - do we have specific projects in mind, are the options demand or supply driven
  3. Stakeholders interests - I would seek to understand which stakeholders in the community support or oppose the options, what political support exists
  4. Implementation - what options exist, what are our capabilities to implement, do we have sufficient funding

You will see that points 1, 3 and 4 essentially match points 1, 2 and 3 (respectively) of the public value triangle. I added in point 2 for completeness. Essentially the public value triangle helped me create a relatively MECE structure to guide the case.

Another very important point with government cases is that you should always clarify whether profit is an objective. For example, in building a road you want to ask whether the government seeks to make a profit from the road, or whether it sole objective is reducing traffic.

Hope that helps!

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Yibing on Oct 22, 2018

Super helpful! Thanks very much and congrats on your McKinsey Offer!

Luca
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replied on Feb 27, 2020
BCG |NASA |20+ interviews with 100% success rate| 120+ students coached |GMAT expert 780/800 score

Hello,

The public sector cases are not completely different from standard cases. The critical point is to clearly identify the objective of your client that could be really different from standard cases (often non-monetary). You should stress this part, asking for clear definition and target. For example "To improve the Healthcare system" could be transformed in completely different analyses (do we want to increase the quality of our system?Or do we want to make it more accessible for everyone?Or do we want to reduce the waiting time for a medical test?)

Once that you know your goal, you can start your analyses like in a standard business case. Don't forget that even if you are not in a standard P&L case, you will probably have a budget for your project. This means that you have to consider what are the revenues and the costs in a specific time horizon, otherwise you don't know if your project is feasible or not.

The specific "public case" parts that you should consider to add to your standard framework are:

  • Potential partnerships with private companies
  • Public value of your project
  • Alternative solutions to address the same problem
  • Political landscape and public opinion

Hope it helps,
Luca

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Vlad
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replied on Oct 24, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Like the approach in the previous answer.

In addition to that, these types of cases are actually pretty traditional, especially for McKinsey. The reason why people think that they are rare is that the casebooks (that are in general not a good source of cases) do not have enough of them.

To provide a bit of structure, there are several types of non-profit cases:

  1. Factors influencing the price (What are the factors influencing the price of oil? Factors influencing the price of real estate?)
  2. Macroeconomic cases (How will you improve life expectancy in a particular city? How will you decrease the unemployment?)
  3. Public sector non-profits (Increasing the revenues of a museum; increasing the revenues from tourism in a city)
  4. Redesigning the processes (How will you develop a new anti-monopoly regulation?)
  5. Non-profit investments (A billionaire is building a new school. What are the factors to look at?)
  6. Ops and cost-cutting (How to reduce the traffic jams on a bridge? A garbage processing facility is out of capacity, what should they do?) - I personally consider them as a separate type of cases that is pretty traditional in the offices performing a lot of ops projects.

It is critical to define the objective for these cases to set a proper structure. Two types of questions you should ask:

  1. Could you please clarify the model / business model? E.g. if a billionaire is building a new school, is it a school for talented kids, rich kids or mass segment? Is it going to generate revenues?
  2. What are the main criteria for success? Is it NPV, ROI, share talented kids entering the top Universities?

Feel free to reach me for a session specifically on these types of cases

Best!

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Ian
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replied on Dec 31, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

My approach

Public sector cases are tricky because they feasibly be any case type (Product Launch - new service for citizens; M&A - merging two departments; even Profitability - cost cutting mandate). For any public sector case, I recommend:

  1. First identifying the type of case it is.
  2. Second, leverage your knowledge of the public sector as constraints/considerations.

Considerations/Constraints

Regards #2, you know that public perception is particularly important to consider in any public sector move. Additionally, you can count on bureacracy/slowness in implementation. You should identify the goal/mission of the organisation as well and keep this top of mind (if it loses money, but achieves it's goal of helping the poor, no problem). Howvever, just because the government sector doesn't have profit as a target, doesn't mean you should ignore the profit tree altogether - governments are still obliged to take into costs (and sometimes revneues) in decisions (example: setting up a public transport initiative). Don't get tricked into thinking you can't consider the economics of the case!

Other items to consider include, but are not limited to:

  • Politlcal landscape (i.e. upcoming elections, special interest groups)
  • Sustainability
  • Private-public partnerships
  • International vs governmental vs state vs local partnerships/alignment
  • Income = taxes/budgetary landscape
  • Digitialization of government

Framework Resource

In terms of resources, the UPenn Wharton 2011 casebook has a framework for public sector. It's split into:

  1. Strategic rationale (Mission of organisation and stakeholder reactions)
  2. Deal economics (planned investment and returns, if any)
  3. Other (Required capabilities and risks)

Practice Cases

If you want some practice cases:

  • Tepper 2008's "NGO Effectiveness"
  • Colombia 2011's "MadeCasse"

Hope this helps, and please don't hesitate to ask any follow-up/clarifying questions!

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