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16: Public Sector Innovation

Information supplied by:

  • Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

On May 21 2010 the final Management Advisory Committee report, Empowering Change: Fostering Innovation in the Australian Public Service, was released by the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This report outlined the need to for greater innovation in the public service and for leadership from agency heads and the SES.

The report was endorsed by the Management Advisory Committee and its successor, the Secretaries Board.

Empowering Change promotes greater openness in approach and a more systematic approach to fostering innovation by public sector agencies. In particular it identifies a number of recommendations for agencies to consider. Agency heads should look at how these recommendations might apply to their agency. The below outlines recommendations as they relate to individual agencies:

  • Incorporate innovation within their corporate strategy (Recommendation 1);
  • Ensure that relevant stakeholders and partners are engaged in the policy development process (Recommendation 2);
  •  Identify a risk management strategy with their respective Portfolio Minister (Recommendation 3);
  • Provide leadership for innovation, including supporting innovative projects and staff and providing room for innovation to occur (Recommendation 4);
  • Facilitate the adoption of innovation into their operations through the adoption of the Innovation Toolkit (Recommendation 5);
  • Consider how barriers to innovation may be identified and challenged (Recommendation 6);
  •  Investigate adopting systems to manage ideas from within and without their organisation and adopt web 2.0 tools and approaches as appropriate (Recommendation 9);
  •  Ensure innovation is considered in procurement by focusing on outcomes and being clear on the problem at hand (Recommendation 10); and
  • Actively identify, promote and report on innovation within their organisations (Recommendation 12).

For recommendation 3, agency heads should have regard to the guidance about agency head relationships with Ministers outlined in Chapter 3 of this document.

The report’s recommendations also raised cross-agency issues. These will be considered for the APS through the Blueprint for Reform processes such as the Secretaries Board and the APS 200 Leadership Forum. These recommendations are outlined below:

  • Adoption of innovative practices and increased openness in the development of new policy proposals (Recommendation 2)
  •  Building a culture of innovation in the public including through leadership and collaboration (Recommendation 4)
  • Implementing a mechanism by which barriers to innovation can be identified and challenged (Recommendation 6)
  • A review of funding mechanisms with a view to removing disincentives to APS innovation (Recommendation 7)
  • Establishing a collaborative experimentation program (Recommendation 8)
  • Champion thought leadership, training, coordination of action, and maintain up-to-date expertise on innovation in the public sector (Recommendation 11)
  • Institute mechanisms to recognise, celebrate and share innovation efforts (Recommendation 12).