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Making innovation a consistent, reliable and strategic resource for governments

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - OPSI19 (Making innovation a consistent, reliable and strategic resource for governments)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2021-12-31

Governments are operating in an environment of unprecedented changes (technological, demographic, environmental, etc.) and yet how they operate is still tied to structures and processes originating from earlier centuries. While much has been learnt, and governments have been experimenting and implementing new approaches, much more must be done if the public sector is to live up to the evolving expectations of citizens. This project is premised on an understanding that the future of government is, and must be, unlike its past. It is one where innovation is embedded, so that governments can be agile in how they respond and have a fundamental appreciation of citizen needs and values.

For this level of transformation to happen, governments need to dramatically expand their learning networks and capacity building. This will only happen if innovation is clearly demonstrated as a core part of how to deliver on core priorities, rather than being seen as an optional extra. The projects supports governments in making their own innovation journey and build the conceptual frameworks (21st century model of innovative government) (WP2) and capabilities and capacities needed to accelerate learning and navigate uncertainty and high level of risks (WP3). These processes are supported by working with direct demonstration projects inside governments to show that systemic change is possible (WP4).
The project has fully achieved its objectives:

-Building an action-oriented innovation theory and empirical evidence supporting innovation in the public sector (WP 2). Building on the Portfolio Exploration Tool developed in RP1, the project further conducted three action-oriented sense-making activity on anticipatory innovation, enhance-oriented innovation and adaptive innovation which tested the connection between the emerging theory underpinning the PET and observed practical experience. The results of this fed the preparation of a final report.

-Developing a learning programme based on peer-to-peer exchange and capacity building on public sector innovation (WP 3). Currently, individual innovation champions in government are the driving engine behind public sector innovation. The effectiveness of their action can be enhanced by stronger connections to peer and other expert networks that can empower new, additional innovation champions to act. The objective of the work under WP3 is to further reinforce the capacity for innovation through strengthening peer-to-peer exchange and learning among government innovators. Building on the work conducted on WP1, the project developed an online community of practice on methods and tools, successfully compiled 109 user generated reviews of the toolkits in the Toolkit Navigator, added three new sections in the Toolkit Navigator. It also featured an intense program with six webinars scheduled throughout the year on specific topics related to public sector innovation.

-Accelerating and legitimising change through (inter-governmental) collaborative incubation projects (WP 4). The objective of this working package is to set up a mechanisms to ensure that 1) benefits of learning from innovation are not confined to a small circle of invested people but reach out to a larger ecosystem of actors, and the international community; and 2) transformative projects get exposed to larger set of expertise that may provide useful insights or validate the need for change or help project scale. Leveraging the innovation incubator model set up in the first reporting period, the action focused on conducting a set of pilot projects (Romania, Denmark and Portugal) and developing a toolkit and workshop to help disseminate findings and aide governments in incubating their own innovation projects; and setting up three peer online communities on facet dimensions.
The actions set out in the proposal contributed to the following results:

-Development of a 21st century model of innovative governance and government: taking into account the different purposes and roles of innovation (WP2) in government contexts. The facet model has been widely disseminated and informed guidance provided by the OECD on public sector innovation. A common working language around the concept of innovation facets and portfolio management have emerged as a key paradigms guiding policy makers' action.

-Support better and more informed decision-making and public policy making, and the ability to use innovation effectively to respond to public sector challenges: an action oriented innovation theory will not deliver on its promise if it is not embedded into strategic decision making. There have been examples of how the theory developed in WP2 has been successfully trialed and tested to inform decision making processes.

-Embed transformative capacity within governments – the project has made more accessible and easy-to-use existing tools and resources OPSI has created for not only individual, but systemic change, as well as accompanying innovators in their learning journey, from webinars to training programs.

-Foster collaboration between innovators on common challenges and deliver (inter-governmental) demonstration projects – the project has demonstrated the value of bringing project owners with solution providers to exchange knowledge and expertise and collaboratively work together, and the possibility to replicate collaborative framework such as the incubator model, in other contexts.

-Significantly growing the body of practical experience and knowledge – the project has generated a wide range of knowledge on innovative approaches and methods (WP2-4) which have been systematically captured and integrated into the Observatory database for the users.