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Economic and Social Policies, PUBLICATIONS

Public sector innovation: Concepts, trends and best practices [Policy Podcast]

Written by Cemal Karakas,

© enotmaks / Adobe Stock

The public sector is an important employer, service provider and procurer. Innovations in the public sector mainly focus on processes, products, organisation and communication. Citizens and businesses alike benefit from a professional and modern public administration in terms of better governance, faster service delivery, co-creation and co-design of politics.

There is no overall European Union law that targets public sector innovation per se. The European Commission, however, provides guidelines on public sector innovation. Many of these guidelines aim to tackle challenges deriving from digital transformation, increased mobility and cross-border interoperability.

In 2013, an expert group appointed by the Commission encouraged the EU and its Member States to overcome innovation barriers in the public sector by, for instance, improving the management and ownership of innovation processes, empowering innovation actors, and providing standards for innovation. In this context, the EU has been implementing its innovation union policy, promoting best practices and co-financing the establishment and activities of the Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). While today many of the expert group’s recommendations have been implemented – such as innovation labs and networks, policy labs, innovation scoreboards or toolboxes – some, however, remain unaccomplished.

The European Parliament has demonstrated a positive stance towards innovation in the public sector on several occasions, including encouraging the Commission to speed up the realisation of the digital single market. More recently, Parliament adopted resolutions on the Commission’s EU e‑government action plan and on the proposed new digital Europe programme.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Public sector innovation: Concepts, trends and best practices‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘Public sector innovation: Concepts, trends and best practices’ on YouTube.

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