7. Conclusion: Moving innovation from the sporadic to the systemic

This chapter outlines relevant lessons from the preceding chapters and considers their implications for the next steps on the innovation journey of the Public Service of Brazil. As the journey will need to reflect the context, the chapter avoids specific recommendations and notes that any proposals will need to be tested and trialled. Nonetheless, the chapter identifies areas of opportunity for different sets of system actors, drawing on the case for a systemic approach to public sector innovation, the historical innovation journey of Brazil, the OECD’s models for public sector innovation, the lived experience of innovation in the Public Service of Brazil, the appraisal of progress to date, and the differing scenarios used to highlight system dynamics.

    

What should the innovation system of the Public Service of Brazil look like? Given what has been outlined in the previous chapters, what steps should be taken to equip the Public Service so that it can consistently and reliably develop and deliver innovative solutions that contribute to the goals and priorities of the government and citizenry of Brazil?

A public sector innovation system – the actors, assets, relationships and flows of information, technology and resources that influence or determine the ability to generate innovation within the public sector – is complex and dynamic. For such a system, there are no easy answers as to what should be done. The system will continually evolve and adjust to a changing context and changing needs and ambitions; thus, a rigid prescription of what the system should look like would be unwise, as it would soon be overtaken by circumstances. New issues will continually arise as more information and new possibilities become available and old ones become either untenable or obsolete.

Instead of specific technical fixes that may soon be made redundant or replaced by new problems and issues, the focus should be on ensuring the system includes a capacity to self-resolve issues. i.e. when new issues arise, how can they be assessed, prioritised and addressed without always needing specific and additional intervention? Discrete reform agendas are likely to still be necessary, but if the system has to rely on such agendas for action, then public administration will often remain in ‘catch-up mode’, rather than engaging with issues proactively. A more pre-emptive approach, whereby the system can collectively identify new blockages, limiting factors or gaps and attempt to address them, is needed if the public sector is to be effective and fit for a continually changing operating environment. This study has identified a framework to assist the Public Service of Brazil in its ongoing innovation journey – one that can help it learn from the past and build on its strengths. This framework includes:

  • Exploring the underlying determinants of innovation, and the ways in which they can be influenced in a deliberate fashion at a systemic level to drive a more consistent, reliable and deliberate approach to innovation

  • Understanding the mix of innovative activity occurring, and considering what the right portfolio mix might be

  • Recognising that innovation will pull activity in different directions and have unintended consequences and ramifications, and thus there is a need for ongoing explicit stewardship of the system.

This chapter identifies the relevant insights from each of the preceding chapters and consolidates them into identified areas where intervention should aid a more deliberate and strategic approach to the innovation system of the Public Service of Brazil. In keeping with uncertainty about what the system should look like, these actions are not proposed as formal recommendations. Rather, they are suggested as areas of opportunity, as prompts and conversation starters, with the caveat that the specifics will need to be tested and trialled, and integrated with other ongoing agendas.

That said, action must start somewhere. A systemic approach to public sector innovation will not be realised instantaneously – it must be built up over time, with the first interventions setting the path for those that follow. Therefore, the chapter prioritises the suggested actions, highlighting those that are likely to be most promising and/or will enable or facilitate other interventions.

The story so far

How can the Public Service of Brazil take a more deliberate, consistent and systemic approach to public sector innovation, so that it can better meet existing, evolving and emerging needs in a changing operating environment? Each of the chapters of this report contributes relevant insights drawn from looking at differing aspects of this question.

Chapter 1 identified a gap between the current state of public sector innovation and what is wanted and needed. It outlined why a systemic approach to public sector innovation is needed within the context of the Public Service of Brazil, including a number of specific issues or policy domains where greater innovation is required or will be useful in meeting societal priorities and achieving political ambitions. It recognised that public sector innovation is taking place, demonstrating the existence of a public sector innovation system, but noted that it has thus far not delivered on expectations.

Box 7.1. Key implications of Chapter 1

A systemic approach to public sector innovation is required, given the gap between the current state of affairs and what is wanted and needed. Significant needs and demands of the public sector warrant or demand innovation, which will only be met by a deliberate focus on the public sector innovation system.

Chapter 2 explored the historical innovation journey of the Public Service of Brazil, and identified the following system characteristics from patterns and rhythms of activity over the preceding decades:

  • a legalistic system

  • a recurrent focus on debureaucratisation

  • ongoing emphasis on the citizen

  • a strong emphasis on controls and corruption

  • a focus on social control and citizen participation

  • attention to the digital transformation

  • complexity in a dynamic context

  • despite increasing momentum, the innovation agenda has not yet been integrated into the narrative of the Public Service of Brazil.

In short, the historical journey suggests that despite the innovation that has occurred, there has not been a particularly systemic approach taken towards public sector innovation. The public sector innovation system in its current form is a by-product of other agendas, although innovation is increasingly the object of explicit attention. The lessons from the history outlined in Chapter 2 are as follows:

  • Innovation cannot be simply mandated through legislation and decrees, it also requires ongoing and active support and investment. Legal instruments are a default response within the system due to its legalistic nature, and will be necessary, but are likely to be insufficient to achieve a more innovative public sector.

  • In particular, the strongly bureaucratic elements of the Brazilian context, matched with a strong institutional leaning towards control elements, mean that innovation is likely to need active structural support, such as clear drivers for innovation, to counter the default biases within the system.

  • Innovation efforts should build upon existing tendencies and strengths and link with complementary agendas, such as emphasis on the citizen, social control and participation, and digital transformation, as these are likely to be conducive to innovation.

  • Innovation will require ongoing attention as the practice and nature of innovation continue to evolve, and as new lessons are learnt.

Box 7.2. Key implications of Chapter 2

Despite the need for innovation, it will not occur simply by fiat. The inertia and inbuilt biases of the public sector context have repeatedly demonstrated their constraining effect on the innovation that can occur. Public sector innovation (as an activity, process and system) requires additional structural support if it is to become a reliable and consistent feature of the Public Service of Brazil, even though a number of existing agendas and traditions lend themselves to a more sophisticated approach to innovation.

Chapter 3 outlined public sector structural characteristics that may contribute to a shortfall in public sector innovation. It also identified the need to establish innovation as an ongoing, deliberate and self-sustaining capability. It noted that existing research and practice in the Brazilian context did not suggest a preferred model for such a systemic approach, and thus presented OECD models that might be appropriate. These included a model for understanding the underlying determinants of public sector innovation and how they manifest and can be influenced at a systemic level, and a model for considering the possible mix of innovation activity and why stewardship of a public sector innovation system is needed and what it might involve. The main lessons of Chapter 3 are as follows:

  • Any initiatives or interventions undertaken should consider their impact upon whether innovation will be driven at the individual, organisational or system level. Reinforcement of activity at an individual or organisational level is likely to result in innovation continuing to be primarily driven by immediate contextual concerns and priorities, rather than overarching and collective systemic needs and ambitions.

  • There is value in taking a portfolio perspective to public sector innovation, and assessing activity through the lens of different innovation facets (enhancement-oriented innovation, mission-oriented innovation, adaptive innovation and anticipatory innovation).

  • Deliberate stewardship of the system is needed. While this may not have been necessary previously, when innovation was primarily a background or occasional activity, oversight of the system becomes more important as innovation is integrated increasingly into the practices of the public sector, and more innovative initiatives arise.

Box 7.3. Key implications of Chapter 3

For innovation to be a sustained and pervasive activity and capability across the Public Service of Brazil, such that it can be relied upon to address the existing, evolving and emerging needs of government and citizens, it:

  • must not be solely dependent on the right individuals being in the right place at the right time

  • should involve a portfolio with a mix of different types of innovation activity to enable different types of learning, provide different options, and mitigate uncertainty

  • requires some form of deliberate and explicit stewardship.

Chapter 4 examined the lived experience of innovation within the Public Service of Brazil in order to better understand the reality on the ground and to assess the extent to which OECD models fit and apply to the Brazilian context. It noted that a large proportion of innovation activity within the Public Service of Brazil takes place at the individual and organisational levels, rather than at a systemic level. The chapter also confirmed the applicability of the models.

The lessons of Chapter 4 are as follows:

  • Particular attention needs to be paid to the determinant of normality within the Brazilian context, as it appears to be the keystone variable. If innovation feels normal for public servants, other aspects related to supporting innovation will be easier. Currently, there is significant apprehension or concern about the risks of innovating, including fear around being targeted or accused by control agencies.

  • There is a need for ongoing monitoring and appreciation of the lived experience of innovation, as the context will continue to change and new issues will arise. The lived experience can provide insights into not concerns or problems, and also help to identify underlying contributing factors or difficulties that may need to be resolved.

  • Existing structural forces and defaults are channelling innovation activity in particular directions that may not suit a more deliberate approach focused on achieving collective needs and ambitions. Ongoing monitoring of the mix of innovation activity will be necessary.

Box 7.4. Key implications of Chapter 4

The current lived experience of innovation in the Public Service of Brazil supports a systemic focus on the determinants of innovation (the forces shaping whether and to what extent innovation is occurring). However, this should be the subject of ongoing monitoring and exploration to understand how, where and why innovation activity is being channelled.

Chapter 5 appraised existing activity and initiatives through the lenses of the determinants of innovation (clarity, parity, suitability, normality) at a systemic level, in order to assess how they contribute to stewardship of the system. The lessons from Chapter 5 are as follows:

  • Clarity

    • Existing activity such as the iNights, Innovation Week, InovaGov, the innovation awards, the innovation training of ENAP and the various innovation labs that have been established are all helping to build a clearer sense of what innovation is and why it matters.

    • The longstanding innovation awards are a valuable component of the public sector innovation system, although there may be potential to consider how to extend upon the achievements of the innovation award winners, including reflection on the implications of winning innovations and how they might inspire other parts of the Public Service.

    • While innovation has received increasing attention over recent years, there is still a lack of an explicit agenda to clarify why it is needed, why it matters to the Public Service of Brazil (and Brazil more broadly) and what is expected of public servants and external stakeholders. The InovaGov manifesto represents a valuable contribution in this regard, but more could be done to help public servants (and stakeholders) understand why continuing to rely on innovation as an ad hoc and reactive practice will be insufficient to meet the expectations of government and citizens.

    • Public sector innovation (or the lack of it) affects and involves all parts of society. However, there does not seem to be a clear signal to external stakeholders about how they can or should be involved, or how they might support the Public Service of Brazil in its efforts to find new approaches to achieve better results and outcomes.

  • Parity

    • Given the defaults of the public sector context, innovative options are at an inherent disadvantage when compared to existing measures and practices. Structural forces are therefore necessary to mitigate these tendencies. While some experimentation has been conducted with mechanisms of challenge (e.g. Simplifique), which can help to contest existing processes, it may be time to explore the benefits of a more integrated structural driver, such as Canada’s Experimentation Direction.

    • Existing issues are generally well-served by existing structures, whereas opportunities for innovation are unlikely to fit neatly with existing mandates or lines of responsibility. As a result, innovation can face bottlenecks, as business-as-usual work is prioritised, being more immediate and tangible. InovaGov provides one possible forum for bottlenecks and issues to be flagged and discussed.

    • Digital infrastructure offers an opportunity to make it easier for those across the system to connect on shared issues and problems.

    • The control bodies within the Public Service of Brazil have a powerful influence on the innovation process. There is an opportunity for the TCU and CGU to consider how to use their control processes to deliberately drive the search for new and better approaches, and thus innovation.

  • Suitability

    • The digitisation of services will likely provide extensive data about the usage of government services, but these data might only provide limited intelligence about how expectations are changing unless considered carefully. Digital technology offers the opportunity to help more easily supplement this “big” quantitative data with “thick” qualitative data that can give an insight into the shifting needs and wants of citizens and service users.

    • Existing work being done to improve procurement processes and enable engagement with start-ups plays an important role in helping the Public Service of Brazil learn from innovative areas of government.

    • It may be valuable to consider ways to support senior leaders in becoming familiar with new technologies, as well as their possible implications.

    • The digital transformation and a changing world offer possibilities for entirely new ways of working and operating. The Public Service of Brazil may need to reflect upon how and where radical exploration of new operational models might can occur within the Public Service of Brazil or with its partners.

  • Normality

    • Each ministry and agency should consider whether or how their corporate practices are supporting behaviours that are open and encouraging of innovation.

    • The control bodies (TCU and CGU) could consider whether they are clear in their expectations of innovation as a part of regular business.

    • More could be done to help familiarise public servants with the ways in which innovation can be used to achieve better outcomes. A relevant inspiration might the Experimentation Works efforts of the Public Service of Canada.

    • It may be advantageous for the central system actors to undertake pro-active war-gaming about how to deal with any high-profile failures that are linked, fairly or not, with the broader innovation agenda. This may help to ensure ongoing trust in the innovation efforts of the Public Service of Brazil, despite any failures, crises or scandals that might arise around specific projects or initiatives that happen to also be labelled, accurately or not, as innovative.

  • Stewardship

    • There is a need for active and explicit stewardship of the system. However, the respective roles of the central players in regard to the public sector innovation system are currently implicit and somewhat informal.

Box 7.5. Key implications of Chapter 5

Existing activity within and by the Public Service of Brazil is contributing to a more sophisticated and mature approach to public sector innovation. However, it is unlikely to be sufficient to achieve a public sector innovation system that can consistently and reliably develop and deliver innovative solutions that contribute to the achievement of the goals and priorities of the government and citizens.

Chapter 6 takes a longer-term view to consider how the dynamics of the system may play out over time through the lens of three differing scenarios: the system continuing “as is”, increased effort and attention to innovation, and a radical transformation based on prioritising innovation as a core capability. The three scenarios, which are not intended as forecasts or prescriptions, help to highlight the trade-offs and tensions that will occur regardless of the path taken. The lessons of Chapter 6 are as follows:

  • To be sustainable, a public sector innovation agenda needs to be connected to underpinning structural drivers, as legislative solutions are unlikely to be sufficient and any buy-in and engagement achieved may dissipate as and when more tangible and pressing agendas arise.

  • Digital transformation will generate significant data about existing needs and issues. These data may need to be complemented with “thick” qualitative data about emerging needs and unstated concerns that may be shaping the expectations of government.

  • As the level of innovation activity and support increases, tensions with existing processes, practices and structures are likely to become clearer and more frequent. A dedicated voice for public sector innovation may be necessary, organisationally and systemically, to help counteract the default biases of the system towards existing, well-understood processes that may no longer be as appropriate.

  • One necessary aspect of stewardship will be a form of oversight and identification of emerging issues in relation to how innovations play out in aggregate. As innovation becomes more common, and as more projects potentially interact with each other, the ramifications for the broader public service and its operations will require more active consideration, as the aggregation and interplay of differing innovations may have unexpected consequences that will need to be identified and managed (or mitigated).

  • Different agencies will learn at different speeds, and the varying degrees of sophistication in regard to public sector innovation are likely to become more distinct. This innovation differential may be confusing to stakeholders and partners who will likely expect uniform experiences from government. Deliberate support may be needed to help government agencies learn from each other.

  • During periods of significant experimentation there will be competing (and thus mutually exclusive) visions and pathways to the future (e.g. particular technical standards or ways of engaging with citizens). Any form of stewardship will need to allow for both divergence (when learning about different possibilities) and convergence (as investment requirements increase and choices need to be made).

  • The more ambitious the agenda, the greater the likelihood of push-back, resistance or scepticism, and the larger the possibility that mistakes, failures or sub-optimal results may be pointed to as reasons to scale back those ambitions.

Box 7.6. Key implications of Chapter 6

The public sector innovation system is a dynamic one and therefore impossible to predict. Given this uncertainty, care needs to be taken with any assumptions about how things should or must unfold over time. Continual learning and adjustment will be needed.

Acknowledging what has been achieved

This report highlights the need for a more systemic approach to public sector innovation. It identifies very real gaps which unless addressed are likely to ensure disappointment with the Public Service of Brazil and the wider public sector. Innovation is needed, and without a systemic approach to public sector innovation, the current shortfall of innovative responses to the existing, evolving and emerging needs of citizens will likely continue.

However, it must be remembered that innovation is difficult. It involves doing what has not been done before on a continual basis, and therefore cannot be mastered. With such a continual focus on the new, it also can be easy to forget, miss or dismiss what has already been achieved.

Before looking at the opportunities for improvement, it is worth recognising that those possibilities build on what has been achieved so far. This report should therefore be read as both a call for action and as an affirmation of efforts to date to promote and pursue public sector innovation as a means to improving the public sector. The following are some of the key highlights:

  • Innovation awards: the awards provide a rich source of insight into innovation in Brazil. They underscore the value and importance of public sector innovation in delivering on the work of the public service, and function as an inspiration for others of what can be done.

  • Establishment of InovaGov, iNights and Innovation Week: these initiatives have proven to be an important mechanism for helping to socialise innovation and connecting and empowering individuals and others across the system.

  • Collaboration between the major actors: there is already a track record of collaboration between many of the major players within the system. By pooling efforts, they are helping to identify potential barriers, leveraging opportunities and working together to strengthen the innovation capacity of the public sector.

  • Innovation labs: the various labs across the system have provided an important platform for testing new approaches and new thinking, exploring different ways of working, and building innovation sophistication and practice.

  • Digital transformation agenda: the digital transformation has played an important role in highlighting the value that innovation can bring, as well as providing a model for the public sector of how system-level transformation can occur.

Key areas of opportunity

The investigation and analysis of the past, present and future innovation system of the Public Service of Brazil has produced a variety of insights, lessons and implications. Based on these, what actions could be taken to help strengthen the capacity of the Public Service to continually and consistently identify, test, apply, embed and learn from innovative approaches that meet the needs and ambitions of Brazilian citizens and the Brazilian government?

It should be clear from the preceding discussion that there are no ‘silver bullets’ or easy prescriptions as to what should be done. No set package of answers will meet all of the present needs, let alone those of a dynamic and unpredictable future. The ambitions for and expectations of the public sector will be ever-changing, and therefore so must be the innovation system.

The following identified areas of opportunity can be considered as educated suggestions for starting points, and should be regarded as prompts for richer conversations about:

  • what the Public Service of Brazil needs innovation for

  • how innovation can/should be supported at a system level

  • how innovation could become a consistent, deliberate and reliable resource that can contribute to better outcomes.

Actions for the whole-of-system

The following proposals are aimed at the whole of the Public Service of Brazil. For each proposal it may be appropriate to appoint a particular lead agency. However, all will require consultation, engagement and buy-in from across the system if they are to be successful.

  1. 1. Establish an explicit agenda for public sector innovation – what does it mean for the Public Service of Brazil, why is it needed and why does it matter, and what is expected of public servants and others in regards to innovation? This could build on the many previous initiatives, but consolidate a concise and meaningful narrative about public sector innovation. (Suggested lead: Brazilian Presidency)

  2. 2. Commit to a systemic approach to public sector innovation, recognising that it is not something that can be mandated or dictated by laws and decrees alone, but requires ongoing investment, support and learning across the whole of the work of the Public Service of Brazil. (Suggested lead: Brazilian Presidency)

  3. 3. Build on the existing strengths and complementary agendas within the Public Service of Brazil (e.g. digital transformation agenda, open government agenda, the focus on social control and the citizen) to illustrate how innovation is a natural and necessary part of how the public sector can deliver on stated priorities, social aims and citizen expectations. (Suggested lead: Ministry of Economy)

  4. 4. Identify and strengthen structural drivers for innovation that help to ensure that the downsides and risks of innovation are balanced with the costs of not exploring new alternatives. This might include the introduction of an approach similar to the experimentation commitment used by the Government of Canada, which commits government agencies to spending a proportion of their administered funding on experimentation. (Suggested lead: Ministry of Economy)

  5. 5. Adopt a portfolio management approach to public sector innovation, recognising the value that diversity of innovation activity can bring, by providing a variety of options in the face of uncertainty. (Suggested lead: Ministry of Economy)

  6. 6. Establish an explicit responsibility for stewardship of the public sector innovation system, to assist with oversight and learning about whole-of-system issues and developments that are beyond the purview of any one ministry or agency. This stewardship responsibility should evolve over time as more is learnt about the functioning of the public sector innovation system, its strengths, and where active monitoring and shepherding may be particularly required. (Suggested lead: Brazilian Presidency)

  7. 7. Encourage use of the determinants model to reflect on the contributions of new and existing rules, processes and activities, for example, do current or new interventions contribute to or detract from:

    1. a. a clear signal being sent to system actors about innovation and how it fits with other priorities? (clarity)

    2. b. innovation having equal standing with other considerations when it comes to proposed courses of action? (parity)

    3. c. the capabilities, systems and infrastructure being appropriate and sufficient for the available options? (suitability)

    4. d. innovation being seen as integral, rather than as an occasionally accepted deviation from the norm? (normality)

      (Suggested lead: Ministry of Economy)

  8. 8. Investigate how, where and under what conditions the exploration of radical options can occur in the Public Service of Brazil, noting that as digital transformation and other disruptive shifts occur, the more that existing operating models of the public sector are unlikely to be suited or able to cope with new demands and expectations. For instance, such exploration might include issues such as what the ‘gig economy’ can teach the public service or what tailoring services to individuals might look like in a digital public sector. (Suggested lead: TCU)

Box 7.7. Priority action areas for a whole-of-system approach

Three priority areas are suggested to ensure that public sector innovation takes hold as an agenda and is recognised as a tool that can help the Public Service achieve its aims and deliver desired outcomes for the government and citizens:

  • Establish an explicit agenda for public sector innovation: without a vision of what is needed and why, it will be hard to overcome or change the status quo.

  • Identify and strengthen structural drivers for innovation: without structural measures to balance or counter the inertia within the public sector, attempts at trying new things will rely heavily on exceptional individuals, crises or political priorities rather than business-as-usual.

  • Establish an explicit responsibility for the stewardship of public sector innovation: with a visible authority to ensure the functioning of the system as a system, interventions will be steered by individual or siloed perspectives that may be in tension with collective needs and ambitions.

Actions for central actors as a group

The following proposals are targeted at the central actors (Brazilian Presidency, Ministry of Economy, ENAP, TCU, CGU, CJF) for them to consider as a collective.

  1. 1. Identify and articulate the roles of each of the major players in regard to the public sector innovation system and its functioning.

  2. 2. Reflect on how existing rules, processes and activity are shaping the existing innovation activity, using the innovation facets model to consider where innovation activity is currently weighted, why that may be the case and whether this is the desired mix.

  3. 3. Empower InovaGov as a formal mechanism for cross-agency bottlenecks and issues relating to the pursuit of new ideas, where issues can be discussed and assessed in terms of how or if they may be unnecessarily constraining innovation activity. InovaGov could even become a formal part of the collaboration infrastructure, providing a forum and a process to enable collaboration between different system actors on specific projects, to tackle shared challenges and bottlenecks, or to act as a broker for organisational innovation capabilities and competencies.

  4. 4. Request agencies to self-identify and share their innovation strengths, including their expertise or capabilities in regard to particular methods, approaches or projects, so as to help them learn from each other.

  5. 5. Undertake pre-emptive war-gaming to explore what might happen in the event of a high-profile innovation “failure”, and to help prepare for the inevitable public criticism, fair or unfair, in order to mitigate damage to the broader public sector innovation agenda (or related agendas, such as digital transformation).

  6. 6. Investigate the potential of regulatory sandboxes within the public sector as a means to assist with the careful experimentation and exploration of new practices and approaches, without ignoring or overstepping Brazil’s legalistic context.

Box 7.8. Priority action area for central actors

In order to ensure collective ownership and engagement with public sector innovation as an agenda by central system actors, the priority focus should be to identify and articulate the roles of each of the major players. Without an explicit sense of these roles, it will not be possible to determine whether there is agreement about what roles should be played or whether there are any gaps.

Actions for the Ministry of Economy

The following proposals are for the Ministry of Economy to consider.

  1. 1. Articulate the links, overlaps and distinctions between the digital transformation and public sector innovation, in order to help clarify the dependencies and differences between the agendas.

  2. 2. Expand support functions for the digital transformation agenda to public sector innovation more broadly, enabling them to act as a source of support and advice on how ministries and agencies can engage with public sector innovation in a deliberate and structured fashion, and as a broker for relevant capabilities and expertise inside and outside of the Public Service of Brazil.

  3. 3. Ensure that ‘big data’ is matched with ‘thick data’, so that the digital transformation agenda can also keep track of how citizen expectations and needs may be shifting, in addition to tracking the use of existing services.

  4. 4. Examine how the digital transformation agenda can empower public servants to better collaborate through the use of shared platforms, in order to connect across agencies and issues with others who may be facing similar problems or interested in similar challenges and opportunities.

Box 7.9. Priority action area for the Ministry of Economy

To ensure the agenda resonates, the suggested priority focus for the Ministry of Economy is to articulate the links, overlaps and distinctions between the digital transformation and public sector innovation. Without a sense of how the agendas overlap, support each other, or conflict, the digital transformation agenda will always win out, as it is more immediate, tangible and better resourced.

Actions for control bodies

The following proposals are for the control bodies (primarily the TCU and CGU) to consider.

  1. 1. Emphasise and illustrate how innovation is part of regular business for the Public Service of Brazil, in that it is a necessary and appropriate activity if the public sector is to deliver on government priorities and meet citizen expectations.

  2. 2. Explicitly identify how control processes such as audit and risk management can support a focus on innovation, noting that for any complex or complicated project, potentially better ways of doing things will likely exist and should be considered and investigated, and recognising that there are risks both to not trying new approaches as well as to doing things differently.

  3. 3. Continue to explore and implement mechanisms to leverage social control, as such mechanisms can help involve other perspectives, question the status quo and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation.

Box 7.10. Priority action area for control bodies

To ensure that innovation is not unnecessarily deterred and that public servants understand how innovative activities and audit and risk management can be complementary, it is suggested that the control bodies explicitly identify how processes such as audit and risk management can support a focus on innovation. Without such guidance and evidence of the complementarity of agendas, many public servants are likely to continue viewing innovation as an unacceptable or unnecessary risk, regardless of need.

Actions for ENAP

The following proposals are for ENAP to consider.

  1. 1. On behalf of InovaGov, partner with relevant actors across the ecosystem to develop an annual high-level commentary and sets of observations on the performance of the public sector innovation system at Innovation Week. This will help identify gaps and weaknesses in the system, priority areas where action or assistance is needed, and strengths, progress and successes. Relevant partners would include the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (IPEA)) as well as civil society groups.

  2. 2. Socialise new technologies with senior leaders in the Public Service of Brazil, building upon existing training and working to help decision makers reflect on the implications of new technologies, including for the work and practices of the public sector.

  3. 3. Further leverage innovation award winners, including by reflecting on the implications of the winning innovations and how they might inspire or be used in other parts of the Public Service.

These suggested action areas supplement the important role that ENAP plays in regards to capacity building for the public sector innovation system. This role is considered by the companion OECD review on leadership and skills for innovation, which makes separate relevant recommendations in this regard.

Box 7.11. Priority action area for ENAP

To ensure that any innovation agenda maintains momentum, the suggested priority focus for ENAP is to provide an annual high-level commentary on the performance of the public sector innovation system at Innovation Week, on behalf of InovaGov, in partnership with other relevant ecosystem actors, notably IPEA. Without such visible reporting and reminders, the public sector could easy lose sight of what has been achieved and what still remains to be done.

Actions for other individual agencies as system actors

The following proposals are for other individual organisations in the Public Service of Brazil to consider in their capacity as system actors.

  1. 1. Reflect on whether their corporate practices are supportive of behaviours that are open to and encourage innovation.

  2. 2. Consider their contribution to the broader innovation system, including their strengths and weaknesses related to innovation, and explore where they may be able to learn from others inside and outside the public sector.

  3. 3. Identify where innovation is needed in their operations or remits, and publicise their innovation priorities.

  4. 4. Continue to experiment with and adopt, as appropriate, new approaches and structures (e.g. innovation labs) that demonstrate promise in enabling innovation.

Box 7.12. Priority action area for individual agencies

To ensure that innovation is recognised as a system-wide concern, it is suggested that individual agencies in their capacity as system actors publicise their innovation priorities. Without a clear sense of why and how innovation is needed, agencies, their staff and their partners and stakeholders will find it difficult to locate shared opportunities and know where innovative effort is best directed.

An ongoing journey

Public sector innovation is not a static field of practice or domain of knowledge. Public sector innovation, whether a specific act, a result, a process or a facilitating activity, changes as new things are learnt, and as the context changes and previous innovations become established. There is therefore no definitive recipe for any one innovation – how it will look, where it will take place or what will be needed to support it. Instead, innovation is an ongoing journey of discovery.

This report has attempted to provide insight into the public sector innovation system of the Public Service of Brazil, and outline models and specific practices that may assist as the journey continues. It does not provide set prescriptions, but rather sets out a means to understand the system, now and into the future, and establish where key points of influence might lie. In this way, the intent of this work is to help those within the system to be able to adjust course as the context changes, as new problems come to light and as new ambitions arise.

The OECD, through the Observatory of Public Sector Innovation and its work with countries, will continue to explore and learn more about public sector innovation systems. It is to be hoped that the next steps of the Public Service of Brazil will act as a source of rich learning for others on their innovation journeys.

7. Conclusion: Moving innovation from the sporadic to the systemic