The public sector is seldom recognised for its innovation or adaptability. Yet, some hope that the executive branch may evolve to better serve society. The EU-funded PACT (Innovative public administration: Social cohesion through local public transport) project was primarily a researcher exchange programme. The goal was to provide short-term study placements for staff of the project's Danish and German university partners at Georgetown University in Washington, DC in the United States. Research was to involve comparison of public administration in the three countries, thereby contributing to debate about the sector's future. The study compared historical factors. Researchers assessed case studies of child care, homelessness, urban development and local housing in terms of whether public sector innovations optimally serve the public interest. The identified innovations include participative and deliberative approaches, online instruments and sister city programmes as forms of public involvement. Results encompass lists of best and worst practices, and reveal how the various national approaches could be adapted to the other countries. The team concluded that context is important. Successful innovations usually follow path dependencies. Also, local innovations are generally incremental and renew established institutions. Finally, innovations restructure the relationship between civil society and public administration. Based on the findings, the group made several recommendations. Innovation depends on the enthusiasm of the people involved, provision of sufficient resources and social participation. Innovation should not attempt to cover a general decline, but should complement existing organisational cultures. The group recommended a primarily qualitative form of evaluation. Results were expected to have been published as an anthology during 2015. The PACT project fostered comparative study of public administration systems in several countries. Such insights may lead to improvement to European systems.
Public administration, public sector, social cohesion, transport