Embracing Innovation in Public Administration: A Data Driven Imperative

October 10, 2023 by Valdrin Dervishaj

Why do governments have a unit and a manager for human resources, finance, legal issues, procurement, and technology, but there is neither a unit nor a manager for innovation? Maybe formally we would have an answer – we consider innovation a vertical extension. Well, this is not entirely correct. Why?

The necessity for innovation in public administration has been more obvious in the ever-evolving and dynamic society. Governments must exploit new technologies, adjust to citizens' changing requirements, and come up with original solutions to difficult problems. All these changes come only through innovative approaches. Thus, a specific unit for innovation in public administration should be established as one of the priorities for every government. This is not only a novel idea; it is backed by strong evidence from reliable publications and papers. In this article, we'll look at the data-supported arguments for why an innovation unit is an essential part of efficient governance.

A 2022 study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that a nation's capacity for innovation, whether as an output (such as a policy, service, or product), practice, or process (such as new models of governance or public administration), is essential to its ability to function effectively, credibly, and in the future. Governments may improve public satisfaction by streamlining procedures, digitizing services, and developing solutions that are focused on the needs of the people (OECD, "Innovation in the Public Sector", 2020). In addition to having an effect on efficacy and credibility, innovation and economic growth are positively correlated (World Bank, “Innovation Policy: A Guide for Developing Countries”, 2010). Countries that invest in innovation see higher GDP growth rates and more resilience.

An example of the need for an innovation unit was the pandemic period when we switched to online services offered by the public sector. Also, most of the service providers experienced remote work. Dervishaj and Neziraj (2022) found that 66 percent of respondents experienced remote work and 54 percent found remote work as normal. During different social changes, the complex issues faced by society can be efficiently addressed by innovation units within public administration. Governments with dedicated innovation teams are better positioned to address difficult challenges like climate change, urbanization, and healthcare reform, according to a McKinsey & Company analysis ("Public Sector Innovation”, 2021).

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Building public confidence requires open government and transparent government processes. According to an Open Government Partnership (OGP) report, nations that have strong innovation strategies are more likely to put open government policies into practice. These efforts, which encourage more citizen involvement and participation in decision-making processes, include digital platforms for public consultation, open data portals, and crowdsourcing (OGP, "The Impact of Open Government”, 2019). Technology usage in public administration may greatly enhance service delivery. Based on a Deloitte poll, 76 percent of public sector executives think implementing new technologies would benefit their companies ("2019 Global Human Capital Trends”, 2019).

Having an innovation unit may help develop comprehensive strategies to deal with societal difficulties by utilizing data-driven methodologies and cutting-edge technologies. The development of an ecosystem that supports startups, promotes entrepreneurship, and draws investment, hence promoting economic growth and job creation, may be greatly aided by an innovation unit. It can act as a catalyst for technology development in the public sector, resulting in developments in fields like data analytics, artificial intelligence, and smart city projects.

Governments can create a more resilient, responsive, and citizen-centered future by using innovation and data-driven decision-making. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly important to embrace innovation in public administration in order to successfully meet the opportunities and difficulties of the 21st century. Today, witnessing the trend of technological developments unprecedented in social history, the lack of a unit responsible for innovation is lagging behind the trends. To conclude, it is highly recommended to have a unit and a manager for innovation within public institutions. This is because currently there is not a responsible unit for internal innovation or external innovative, setting clear vision for innovation, and responsible to produce innovative solutions.

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