Governments need new and innovative approaches to better address ongoing, emergent and societal challenges. Complex issues cannot be solved by single interventions focusing on specific characteristics – they need to be tackled systemically. Systems thinking has received increasing recognition in OECD countries as an approach that can help address some of these challenges in a dynamic and holistic way.

Public procurement is an ideal focus for systems thinking approaches. It not only enables the acquisition of necessary products and services, it can also help achieve socio-economic goals and encourage innovation. However, in Slovenia, as in many OECD countries, opportunities exist for greater innovation in the public procurement process and associated systems to enhance the potential for positive impact.

Through the support of the European Commission’s Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP), the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) (, in collaboration with the Public Procurement Unit in the OECD Directorate for Public Governance, has partnered with the Slovenian Ministry of Public Administration to apply systems thinking to the public procurement system of Slovenia. The report looks beyond traditional solutions for improving system effectiveness, instead applying a systems approach to assess the potential for creating more innovation within the public procurement system and producing better outcomes for Slovenians.

The report uses over 1 000 data points collected through interviews and workshops, analysis of past and present laws and regulations, and analysis of procurement data from the Slovenian Government and the European Commission. These data are used to map the procurement system and the experience of those responsible for its operation. The report identifies tensions within the procurement system and the underlying factors that explain them. The analysis further shows that the main challenges within the system are behavioural and cultural rather than legal. Finally, the report recommends a series of systemic interventions focused on changing behaviour and culture, and greater collaboration to enhance the effectiveness of the procurement system beyond adherence to existing rules.

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