The Innovation System of the Public Service of Canada

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Governments today are confronted with a complex array of interconnected problems, increased citizen expectations, and fiscal constraints. Furthermore, they must operate in a context of fast-paced technological, geopolitical, economic, social, and environmental change. Existing policies and programmes may not be suitable for tackling the challenges of today, let alone those of tomorrow. Governments therefore require a systemic approach to public sector innovation to develop and deliver novel solutions that meet the existing and emergent needs of citizens. This report looks at the experience and context of the Public Service of Canada, where significant emphasis has been placed on innovation, and proposes a new public sector innovation system model to assist Canada and other countries.

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The public sector cannot be a stranger to innovation. As in the private sector, it needs to be able to implement novel approaches to deliver on its core functions. As technologies, circumstances and needs change it means that it cannot be assumed that existing structures, processes and interventions remain the most appropriate or most effective. New options must be developed and assessed on a continual, consistent and reliable basis in order to be ready for both expected and unexpected challenges. This is true for both the private and public sectors. The process of innovation must therefore take a more central role if government is to remain effective, relevant and suitable.

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