Fostering Innovation in the Public Sector

image of Fostering Innovation in the Public Sector

Public sector innovation does not happen by itself: problems need to be identified, and ideas translated into projects that can be tested, implemented and shared. To do so, public sector organisations must identify the processes and structures that can support and accelerate innovation. This report looks at how governments can create an environment that fosters innovation. It discusses the role of government management in inhibiting or enabling innovation, and the role that specific functions such as human resources management and budgeting can play. It suggests ways to support innovation – including by managing information, data and knowledge – as well as strategies for managing risk. Drawing on country approaches compiled and analysed by the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation, the report presents a framework for collecting and examining data on the ability of central government to foster public sector innovation.



Dealing with regulations and procedures in public sector innovation

Bureaucracy and red tape are often seen as the main barriers to innovation, particularly in the public sector. This chapter examines to what extent rules actually do inhibit innovation. Defining bureaucracy as a system of values as much as a system of rules and procedures, it considers how the wider bureaucratic context of risk aversion, silos, hierarchical organisations and lack of diversity can inhibit innovation rather than laws and procedures in the narrowest sense. The chapter examines some initiatives OECD governments have used to tackle barriers to innovation, from red tape reduction initiatives to behavioural insights. It discusses the challenge of using discretion to deal with use and procedures that seem to block innovation. It concludes with some considerations governments should apply to tackle both the specific rules and procedures which may be blocking innovation, and the wider context preventing civil servants from trying new approaches.


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