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Innovations in Government

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What is Innovation in Government?

Innovation can be defined as the implementation of a significant change in the way the Government operates or in the products and services it provides.  Innovation can cover the entire results chain depicted below:


While there can be innovation at all levels of the results chain, as far as citizens and clients of government are concerned they care about the final benefits from innovation. In other words, we need to make a distinction between means and ends. 

Community for Innovation in Government

The focus of this Community of Practice is on managerial and administrative innovations in Government departments. Ultimately, innovation in Government that matters is defined as a significant and sustainable improvement in the following:

(a). Delivery of goods and services

(i). at less cost (ii). in less time (iii). with more transparency (iv) with least disruption (v) with organizational restructurong or chang

Points (i - iv)  are often reffered to as Process Innovation. A process innovation is the implementation of a method for the production and provision of products, that is new or significantly improved compared to existing processes in your entity. This may involve significant improvements in for example, equipment and/or skills. This also includes significant improvements in support functions such as IT, accounting and purchasing.

Point a (v) is referred to as an ‘Organisational Innovation’ is the implementation of a new method for organising or managing work that differs significantly from existing methods in your entity. This includes new or significant improvements to management systems or workplace organisation.

(b). Delivery of more goods or services

(i) More quantity (ii) Better quality

Point b(ii) mentioned above is referred to as ‘Product Innovation.” A product innovation is the introduction of a product that is new or significantly improved compared to existing products in your entity. This includes significant improvements in the products’ characteristics, in user access or in how it is used.

(c). Indentification of new needs (hence new goods and services)
(articulated and non-ariculated)

Sometimes this involves what is referred to as Communication Innovation. It involves implementation of a new method of promoting the entity or its products, or new methods to influence the behaviour of individuals or others. These must differ significantly from existing communication methods in your entity.

To qualify as innovation, the improvement in categories ‘a’ and ‘b’ mentioned above should be 20 percent or more. Further, it should not be a one-time improvement but a permanent change. 

For category (c) mentioned above, the identification of a new need should affect 20 % of the target audience. 
The choice of the threshold level of 20 % is a policy determined variable.  To start with this level appears to be a reasonable threshold. Later it could be increased. 
All departments preparing Results-Framework Document (RFD) are required to prepare an Innovation Action Plan (IAP). The details of the background for this initiative and next steps are outlined in the Guidelines enclosed below. 

Material on Innovation


Userful links

TechPedia NIF India SRISTI
OECD on Public Sector Innovation European Commission on Public Sector Innovation European Social Innovation Research
Australia United Kingdom