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What does this tell us about the state of the service

There have been calls, from inside and outside the APS, for public servants to be more innovative. This chapter explored the extent to which the APS has a ‘culture of innovation’, focusing on open innovation and the extent to which the culture and climate of the APS supports ‘bottom-up’ innovation in its workplaces.

Compared to other nations such as the UK and the US, the APS has taken a variable approach to open government data. The policy infrastructure is in place and efforts to make government data available for re-use are increasing. The APS has also invested in a design and prototyping experimental project—DesignGov. This significant investment provided the space for the APS to test new approaches to problem solving.

Some agencies are continuing to invest in different approaches to engaging the online community, such as through crowdsourcing. This has the potential to assist in accessing the effort, skills and knowledge of the wider community to generate organisational outcomes in non-traditional ways. While not reported in this year's State of the Service report, efforts to use ‘behavioural insights’ techniques to test new approaches continue to grow.

The use of these innovative approaches and techniques is countered by the view that the majority of APS employees do not believe their workplace emphasises innovation. This is particularly true for those below SES level. A high proportion of employees believe it is their personal responsibility to improve the quality of their work. Less than half, however, believe they have the time to explore new ideas. Some work is still needed to create a culture of innovation in the APS that might more broadly drive bottom-up innovation. Chapter 5 showed a positive relationship between leadership behaviours and perceptions of innovation in the workplace. The greatest positive impact on innovation in the APS may be in closing the gap between the perceptions of EL and SES employees on the extent to which the APS workplace encourages and rewards innovation.

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