Governments need to innovate to better address ongoing and emergent policy challenges and provide effective public services. For this to happen, the public sector needs to have access to the right capabilities including leadership skills.

OECD countries are increasingly introducing specific senior civil service (SCS) systems that ensure leaders are capable of achieving results. This study establishes a new assessment framework for SCS systems, based on the 2019 OECD Recommendation on Public Service Leadership and Capability. The framework looks at three aspects as they relate to public sector innovation: a) the necessary leadership skills, b) the available supply of these skills through competency mapping and development, and c) the demand for these skills through appointment processes and accountability tools.

The study uses data collected through surveys and workshops to identify skills gaps that civil servants perceive in their leadership, and identifies a set of needed leadership competencies gathered in consultation with Brazilian civil servants. The study also identifies an imbalance in supply and demand, with most of the existing initiatives aimed at building supply. The study recommends actions to better co-ordinate these supply-side interventions and to develop demand-side interventions such as merit-based recruitment processes (which a recent presidential decree has now made possible).

This study was conducted in parallel with, and complements, the companion study The Innovation System of the Public Service of Brazil: An exploration of its past, present and future journey. Together, they are meant to help Brazil develop a stronger, more deliberate approach to leadership and innovation.

The study also contributes to a broader debate on public leadership competencies in public sector innovation, and the systems needed to appoint the most effective people and support them in achieving results.