- Preamble and Acknowledgements
- Executive Summary
- Profile of the Emerging Field of Inquiry into Public Sector Innovation
- Framing the Major Issues
- Key Findings
- Examples of Public Service Innovation
- Overall Conclusions
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Framing the Major Issues
The overall importance of innovation in the Australian public sector was highlighted by the current Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2004 (when he was the Secretary to the Department of Premier and Cabinet in the State of Victoria). Terry Moran set out five key points concerning the importance of innovation in a public sector context (Moran 2004):
Firstly, innovation is core to the role of the public sector. In fact, I believe it will be the main driver of the next wave of public sector reforms — reforms that focus on improving service delivery for citizens. Innovation should not be something that is confined to the private sector and exemplified by corporate entrepreneurship. Nor, as we know, should high quality service delivery be the preserve of the private sector.
Secondly, public sector innovation is about the relentless pursuit of better outcomes by all of us. We think too often of innovation as those ‘sparky’ ideas that, on occasion, totally reshape a debate overnight. But this is only one type of innovation. The other — often neglected, in my view — is the relentless pursuit of better outcomes in day-to-day service delivery.
My third point is that innovation strengthens our democracy. An innovative public service strengthens the connections between individuals, communities and governments. In particular, in the Australian context, innovation is the key that can unlock some of the untapped potential of our Federal system of government.
A related point is that innovation can better align the activities of government with the needs of citizens. We have all been involved for some years now in discussions about the need for better co-ordination — ‘citizen-centred service delivery’, as I like to think of it, or ‘joined up’ government. Yet delivering on this new agenda is not easy, and requires the constant pursuit of innovation and flexibility in both policy and service delivery.
Finally, innovation can help resolve policy failures. The dark secrets of governments — areas of policy where we know our current approach is failing — should have the bright light of innovation turned on them more often. We are, at times, too soft and too complacent about the fact that policy failures exist — and are afraid to discuss innovative solutions because of this. The most obvious example of this is the ongoing public policy failure relating to the well being of indigenous Australians.
Terry Moran concludes by naming a number of areas for further discussion. ‘By their nature, they are all areas where head offices and central agencies can have real impact in building a culture of innovation within the public sector’:
1. Clearly articulating roles and responsibilities in ways that devolve authority and emphasise and encourage innovation.
2. Developing performance measures that identify and reward innovation.
3. Further developing public sector financial management practices.
4. Encouraging client focus, and community engagement, in all of our services.
5. Avoiding continuing growth in the number of programs and policies.
6. Building a tolerance for risk and failure.
7. Increasing the innovative capacity of our people.
These observations provide a useful statement of intent for developing a new agenda for innovation management in the public sector. The remarks stress the departure from older assumptions that the public sector is neither equipped to be, or should seek to become more innovative.
The remainder of this literature review contributes to the process of fleshing out details of this new innovation management focused public sector agenda.
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