Directorate for Public Governance

Embracing Innovation in Government: Global Trends 2019


The need for and the potential of innovation has never been greater

February 11, 2019



The OECD's Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI), in partnership with the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation, conducted a global review of the ways governments are transforming their operations and improving the lives of their people though innovation. This is the third annual report on innovation trends.

Extensive research into innovation trends and examples in OECD member and non-members countries was carried out, as well as a "Call for Innovations" crowdsourcing exercise to identify examples of innovations in governments worldwide.  In total, 542 innovations from 84 countries were analysed.

The report identified three key trends in government innovation. To show the real-life application of these trends and their impacts, 10 initiatives were selected for case studies in the report. 



Trend 1: Invisible to visible

  Many recent government efforts have focused on making government more transparent to the public, a process that fosters trust and fuels innovation. Visibility is also important from the perspective of government, but the insights and perspectives of citizens and residents are often invisible to government. Governments are innovating to make these invisible factors visible.


  • When possible, identify and adapt existing tools and resources to further the mission. 
  • Ensure decisions frameworks consider diverse views.
  • Make room for ground-up and co-created solutions.

Case studies

  • Carrot Rewards (Canada) 
  • Finding Places (Belgium) 
  • Zika Mozzie Seeker (Australia)

Trend 2: Opening doors

  New technologies, open data, and the emergence of new business models have created space for governments to explore new opportunities that open doors to the public value of government.


  • Explore the intersectionality between sustainability and economic catalysts. 
  • Remain vigilant for unintended consequences.
  • Enhance government adaptability to citizen needs to improve access to justice.

Case studies

  • Recyclables as Transportation Fare (Indonesia)
  • Sharing Economy for Government Spaces (Netherlands)
  • Transportation as a Benefit (United States)
  • Clear My Record (United States) 

Trend 3: Machine-readable world

  Our world is being translated into bits and bytes that can be read by machines and fed into algorithms. Governments are innovating to reconceive the way policy and legislation is created by making them machine-readable. They have also begun to digitise human characteristics, senses, and surroundings to deliver innovative services and interventions.


  • Support multi-disciplinarily.
  • Ensure algorithms are transparent.
  • Build ethics into the design and implementation of initiatives.

Case studies

  • Better Rules (New Zealand) 
  • Machine Learning for Land-mapping (Australia)
  • Counterfeit Medicine Detection Using Blockchain and AI (Mongolia) 

Previous editions


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