Trends in Global Government Innovation 2023

Discover the most innovative and transformative trends in global governance with the "Global Trends in Government Innovation 2023" report. Published on 15 May 2023, the report provides an insightful overview of the innovative practices governments have implemented in response to recent global challenges.

This comprehensive study results from a long-standing collaboration between the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI). Together, we have explored how governments worldwide are testing and implementing new ways to design policies, deliver services, and manage the business of government.

In this year's edition, we have identified and analyzed 1,084 innovative initiatives from 94 countries. These initiatives, far surpassing those of previous years, demonstrate how governments and their industry and civil society partners are taking swift, impactful actions to overcome obstacles and ensure the well-being of their citizens and residents.

Our analysis of these initiatives, coupled with global events, workshops, and conversations held with governments worldwide, has enabled us to identify four key trends in government innovation and ten illustrative case studies. These trends reflect the systemic evolution and maturity of government priorities and workstreams, highlighting how governments harness new technologies, growing citizen expectations, and heightened awareness of societal inequities to drive transformative change.

We also uncovered several secondary trends, including public administration transformation, novel solutions for young people and intergenerational justice, creative approaches to achieve net zero carbon emissions, and the strengthening and leveraging GovTech ecosystems. These trends will be explored further in our future work.

Download the "Global Trends in Government Innovation 2023" report now and join us as we explore and celebrate the innovative efforts of governments around the world. Gain insights into how these innovations address the root causes of issues and inspire others to take action and replicate their success in their own contexts.

Delivering and Enabling Impactful Cross-Border Solutions

The report discusses the importance of cross-border collaboration and innovation in tackling global challenges such as climate change and disease. The report identifies three themes related to cross-border government innovation: delivering joint cross-border policy and solution-oriented services, digital architecture enabling cross-border innovation, and adding a cross-border dimension to upskilling and capacity building.

Under the first theme, the report discusses case studies of cross-border collaborations that have successfully implemented policies and services to address global challenges. These efforts tend to focus on specific global challenges such as environmental sustainability, cooperation in health services, and protecting vulnerable groups. The report notes that effective implementation of cross-border solutions is complex and often requires tailored approaches and novel legal procedures.

The second theme of the report focuses on digital architecture enabling cross-border innovation. The report discusses the importance of digital innovation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for coordination across borders and jurisdictions. The report also highlights a case study of Estonia and Finland exchanging interoperable data across borders via an X-Road Trust Federation, which joins each country’s national data ecosystem.

Under the third theme, the report discusses upskilling and capacity building across borders. The report notes that special governance capacities are needed for cross-border efforts, particularly to support innovation. The report identifies two key ways in which upskilling and capacity building are taking shape in innovative ways across borders: new types of skills-transfer programs and new frameworks and tools to help enhance skills and capacities for cross-border collaboration.

The report identifies several challenges associated with cross-border government innovation, including language and cultural barriers, lack of information and insights on operations among partners, lack of training around executing cross-border projects, lack of data and the ability for meaningful interpretation, navigating privacy considerations, and lack of a common evaluation framework for implemented projects. The report also identifies several success factors critical for supporting implementation and delivery of impactful solutions, such as appropriate technical infrastructure and information systems, incorporating interoperable digital identity, and working towards non-technical interoperability.

The report concludes with four key recommendations for delivering and enabling innovative cross-border solutions, including collectively mapping out interoperability differences with partners, pursuing a national public sector data strategy, integrating capabilities important for cross-border collaboration and innovation into competency frameworks, training and talent management programs, and leveraging the positioning of international organizations and building new structures only when existing ones are insufficient and cannot be adapted.

Surfacing Insights and Experimenting Across Borders

This report highlights the emergence of a new field of cross-border innovation in the public sector. It identifies two main themes: surfacing ground-up insights and collective intelligence, and experimenting and testing across borders. The report presents case studies and findings related to these themes, as well as challenges and success factors.

The benefits of cross-border innovation include gaining a better understanding of relevant ecosystem actors, providing conduits for ground-up engagement, ensuring all voices are heard and considered, illuminating areas of opportunity for collaboration, fostering a culture of active listening and learning, promoting adaptable and agile government processes, mitigating risk, and ensuring policies and services better meet the needs of stakeholders, citizens and residents.

However, challenges hinder the ability of governments and their partners to conduct ground-up efforts and experiment with new approaches across borders, including cultural resistance, lack of feedback and learning loops, difficulty in scaling successful small tests, undeveloped ecosystems, competition among actors impeding collaboration, short-term outlooks, and lack of a facilitator to drive progress.

The report recommends five key actions for surfacing insights and experimenting across borders, including formalising the role of cross-border innovation facilitators, mapping and engaging with cross-border ecosystem actors, conducting cross-border activities using iterative practices and continuously learning from them, ensuring cross-border initiatives are designed with scalability in mind, and implementing formal mechanisms to surface ground-up insights and experiment across borders.

The report highlights the energy, diversity, and spirit of new cross-border innovations, which will become increasingly important in the next decade as the advantages of faster learning, and pooled action to reduce risks and amplify benefits become self-evident.

Governing Cross-Border Challenges

The OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation have partnered to release a report on achieving cross-border government innovation. The report identifies three key approaches to cross-border governance, which include building cross-border governance bodies, innovative networks for cross-border collaboration, and exploring emerging governance system dynamics.

The report highlights that the biggest challenges we face, such as climate change and health inequalities, do not respect boundaries and therefore require collective efforts to address them. The report finds that cross-border government innovation can be driven by top-down or center-out governance bodies, but can also emerge from peer-to-peer connections through horizontal networks. Networks are becoming more innovative in their form and function, and as a means for developing innovation capacities across borders and systems, while simultaneously fostering cultural capacities that reinforce cross-border collaboration.

The report surfaces several benefits, challenges, and success factors related to cross-border government innovation. Key benefits to cross-border collaboration include regulatory effectiveness, economic and administrative efficiency, managing risks across borders, enhancing knowledge flow, and bringing about economies of scale. However, core challenges that limit cross-border collaboration include additional layers of coordination, difficulty of jurisdictions deviating from norms, perceived loss of sovereignty, and competing political interests, among others.

The report recommends five key actions for governing cross-border challenges, including securing political and leadership commitment and advocacy from the highest levels of government, pursuing cross-border efforts only where these make sense and involving all stakeholders in establishing a clear vision and strategy for cross-border collaboration, ensuring structural enablers are in place and exploring relevant systems dynamics that can better connect partners and collectively guide work, sharing costs and benefits related to collaboration, and being a good partner and building trust by fostering strong relationships over time.

The report provides a level-headed assessment of the challenges and opportunities associated with cross-border governance, highlighting that governance should be understood as a collective effort and that cross-border government innovation is critical for tackling complex issues that cut across borders.

Upskilling and Investing in People

The report explores two key themes related to upskilling and investing in people in government:

Theme 1: Investing in the public as a critical resource. This theme focuses on the importance of equipping citizens and residents with the skills needed to adapt to technological progress and digital transformation. The report highlights initiatives that teach skills in areas like information and data literacy, digital content creation, and socio-emotional skills critical for adapting to the demands of the future of work and society.

Case studies from Canada and Finland are used to illustrate initiatives that support upskilling efforts. CanCode is an innovative upskilling effort from the Government of Canada designed to prepare young Canadians for careers in STEM fields, while "Elements of AI" is a free online course from the University of Helsinki that teaches AI concepts, societal implications, and building AI systems.

Theme 2: Upskilling the public service to unlock the potential of government. This theme highlights the importance of equipping public officials with the skills needed to design and implement innovative policies and services for a 21st century world. The report includes a case study from Latvia, where the government created the initiative "An Official Shadows an Entrepreneur" to help public officials gain new insights into the operations and experiences of business owners, and learn new user-centered and collaborative skills.

The report provides recommendations for governments to take their upskilling efforts to new levels, including making upskilling a priority mission, ensuring an equal focus on environment and structures, and taking extra measures to ensure equitable access to opportunities. The report concludes by emphasizing the importance of investing in the skills and capacities of citizens and public officials to ensure that countries can remain competitive in the modern economy and meet the changing and growing demands of their people.

Public Provider VS Big Brother

The report highlights the increasing use of new technologies by governments to better understand the needs of citizens and transform the way they operate and serve their people. The report focuses on two key themes: data harvesting and monitoring, and biometric technologies and facial recognition. While these technologies offer significant opportunities for governments to improve services and policy interventions, there are also legitimate concerns around privacy and security.

The report recommends that governments actively engage with the issues raised by these technologies, prioritize earning trust from the public, and work collaboratively across national borders to understand the limits, pitfalls, and opportunities of these technologies. The development of frameworks around the world governing the application of these technologies is necessary for governments to properly get to grips with them and ensure they are used in the interest of citizens.

Focusing on the Overlooked

This report highlights how governments are leveraging innovation to broaden their scope of action and specifically address the needs of segments of society that are at risk of falling through the cracks or need additional support to achieve equitable outcomes. The report focuses on three key themes: (1) creating new beginnings for those who do not fit the typical personas of citizens and residents; (2) recognizing the plight and potential of rural communities, and activating them as agents for innovation; and (3) innovating to counteract challenges and poorer outcomes for those with disabilities by designing services that work for all.

The report provides case studies and examples of innovative solutions that governments have implemented to address these themes. For example, the Barefoot College International in India offers training to older women from rural communities in developing countries to learn how to construct, install and maintain solar home lighting systems. These basic engineering skills help them bring indoor lighting into their own homes and leverage solar energy to benefit their communities. Another example is the Video Chat and Sign Language for Inclusive Services in Georgia, where emergency services use video-calling with sign language interpreters to communicate with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

The report concludes by providing recommendations for governments to continue coming up with creative and impactful solutions to focus on the overlooked and take care of vulnerable and otherwise disadvantaged people. These recommendations include considering root causes and contributing factors, involving potentially impacted populations at all stages from design through to implementation and iteration, and ensuring ethical design in programs focusing on vulnerable populations. The report emphasizes the importance of addressing underlying issues and root causes of these issues and doing so hand-in-hand with those with lived experience of these challenges.

Seamless Government

The report "Embracing Innovation in Government Global Trends 2020" explores the innovative actions taken by governments worldwide in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges. The report identifies the trend of "seamless government," in which governments work to eliminate points of friction between themselves and those they serve. The report outlines three key themes driving efforts in this area: invisible government, matrixed government, and anticipatory government.

Invisible government involves building proactive and automated services that reduce burdens for users and increase proactivity. Examples include building automated services around key life events or using AI-driven virtual assistants to provide information and support at scale. The report cautions that these practices may have unintended consequences, such as a lack of visibility for government, making services impersonal, and being potentially open to misuse.

Matrixed government involves making bureaucratic and sectoral boundaries permeable and bringing together different pieces of society to work together to achieve goals. This approach builds systemic conduits and collaborative infrastructure that enable different ecosystems to collaborate to make key contributions to society. Examples include collaboration between governments, collaboration between governments and businesses, and collaboration between governments and citizens.

Anticipatory government involves exploring scenarios and taking action today to actively shape tomorrow. Innovative governments are exploring beyond horizon scanning activities and building seamless governments that blur the boundaries between present and future. This approach involves picking up on weak signals through data, engaging with potential futures, designing policies and services for the future, and ultimately, bringing about new anticipatory innovation governance.

The report provides case studies that exemplify each of these themes, including the UAE's Ministry of Possibilities, IP Australia's Intellectual Property Global Artificial Intelligence Network (IP GAIN), and the European Commission's Scenario Exploration System.

The report concludes by recommending that governments understand the needs of individuals and businesses, consider all relevant ecosystem actors and build conduits for communication and collaboration, and build up capacities for anticipatory innovation to more actively shape future options. By following these recommendations, governments can smooth out existing frictions in government processes and services, build resilient foundations for future challenges, and ultimately provide incredible and innovative services for their people and businesses.

Innovative COVID-19 Response

"Embracing Innovation in Government Global Trends 2020" is a report that analyzes the innovative responses of governments around the world to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report was produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI).

The report highlights five key themes that have emerged as driving factors for public sector innovation during the crisis: 1) rapid acceleration of digital innovation and transformation, 2) seeking bottom-up solutions and insights, 3) social solidarity and caring, 4) reducing the spread through virus tracking and adaptive action, and 5) forging a path to recovery.

The report provides case studies and examples to illustrate how governments have applied innovative solutions to address the pandemic. It also emphasizes the need for governments to develop a more systems-wide, strategic view of innovation in order to prepare for future crises and to address persistent systemic and structural issues.

Embracing Innovation in Government 2019

The world is going through an unprecedented technological revolution, and governments must keep up with the pace of change. The OECD Observatory for Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI) partnered to explore how governments worldwide are innovating and making innovation a routine practice. OPSI identified four primary facets of public sector innovation and evaluated 542 cases of government innovation, identifying three key trends: making invisible factors visible, opening doors to underserved populations, and making policy and legislation machine-readable. OPSI has developed resources, including a case study platform, toolkit navigator, and workshop for innovators, to make innovation more accessible and deployable for governments.