Public governance

Observatory of Public Sector Innovation: 1st meeting


25 delegates from 16 countries, and a representative from the European Commission participated in the first meeting of the Observatory’s Task Force. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity to discuss the strategic directions and initial activities of the Observatory. At the end of the meeting, Task Force members supported the nomination of Canada and France as Co-chairs of the Task Force.


Agenda highlights


20 February 2012

Session 1 – Welcome and introduction of the agenda

The OECD Secretariat introduced the objectives for the meeting and discussed the challenges currently facing the public sector across OECD countries and beyond – including the immediate challenge of fiscal consolidation and longer term structural challenges such as unemployment, growth, and inequality. Innovation can play a role in this context, by supporting the public sector to meet these challenges. However it was noted that, until now, the public sector has rarely been associated with innovation. The Observatory will help to begin to alter this perception, providing countries with tools to manage both the obstacles and opportunities that the current context provides.

Session 2 – Building the analytical framework for mapping innovative practices

One key objective of the Observatory is to create and disseminate knowledge on innovation in the public sector by providing access to a systematised collection of country innovative practices. A sound framework for mapping innovative practices, including a comprehensive set of criteria, definitions and categories, is a precondition to carry out meaningful analysis and comparisons of countries’ innovative practices.

This session provided countries with the opportunity to identify and discuss the key elements of an analytical framework for the work on innovation in the public sector, building on their own experiences and initial research undertaken by the OECD.

Task Force members emphasised the fundamental importance of a strong methodological foundation to select and categorise innovative practices to underpin the Observatory’s work. They welcomed the OECD’s proposal to develop an analytical framework to help achieve this, and provided input towards its design and development.


Lunch Discussion:

‘How to mobilise and involve government innovators across your public administration in the work of the OECD Observatory?’

The discussion allowed Task Force members to share their views on how to 1) reach out to, and learn from front line innovators in their own countries, and 2) involve them in the Observatory work.


Session 3 – Populating the innovation database: format and procedures for data collection and reporting  

This session focused on the format and procedures for the collection and reporting of innovative practices to ensure that the Observatory builds a critical mass of data in a reasonable timeframe. Countries discussed the strengths and weaknesses of suggested formats for collecting and presenting country data, and the possible procedures for data collection and reporting at country level.  
Countries agreed with the OECD’s proposal to collect data on innovative practices via a report card, and to conduct more in-depth analysis through case studies. To ensure a feasible and targeted data collection, they suggested that the scope of the initial data collection should be limited to ensure comparability of results and facilitate data gathering.

Session 4 – Observatory online platform

The Observatory will present its findings via an online platform. This will enable users to understand, share, discuss and evaluate innovations in the public sector. This session focused on the possible options and features for the online platform such as the degree of interactivity, access and users.   

Countries asked the Secretariat to further develop a proposal for an online platform to provide access to categorised innovative practices, and potentially a forum where innovators can discuss and learn from each others’ experiences. A detailed report including a usability study is expected to be produced for the next meeting of the Observatory.

21 February 2012

Session 5 – Innovative policy responses for service delivery under budget constraints: Draft Outline for the Report

Following the financial crisis and ensuing global economic downturn, governments are facing severe budget constraints and pressure to reduce public expenditures. In many OECD countries, this process has already begun with the implementation of fiscal consolidation plans. But once budgets have been cut, what happens to the services that governments provide, especially given that the demands on public services continue to increase?

This session discussed a study proposal to explore the measures that countries have employed to adjust their service delivery strategies in response to budget constraints, with a particular focus on examining innovative approaches as part of this response. Countries supported the OECD’s study proposal and provided suggestions in view of the preparation of a questionnaire for data collection.


Session 6 – Observatory Partnerships

The Observatory is expected to operate as a knowledge hub bringing together expertise from different partners within and outside government.  This session discussed how the Observatory can leverage knowledge partnerships with external non-government stakeholders (e.g. academia, other international organisations, non-for-profit organisations). In particular, countries discussed the next steps towards the creation of an ad-hoc Associate Group composed of experts from academia, NGOs, or private sector organisations with relevant experience on public sector innovation.


Session 7 – Future direction and next steps

This session summarised the key action items for Task Force members and the OECD Secretariat in the coming months. This included highlighting the main items to be covered in the next Task Force meeting, scheduled for 8-9 October 2012.

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