Organizational Innovation in Public Services: Forms and Governance


New edited book by Pekka Valkama, Stephen James Bailey, Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko: “Reforming public services has become an integral part of instituting austerity measures as governments around the world struggle to balance the books in the wake of the financial crisis. Vital public services and government departments have been given the seemingly impossible task of delivering better services to the public while receiving less funding. This excellent and highly original collection brings together contributors from across the globe to explore and analyse innovational methods aimed at helping overburdened and under-funded public services cope with the demands of austerity and continue to deliver high quality services to the public. In the process this book develops new theoretical models and analyses case studies to provide an important and timely insight into how to reform public services across the globe…
Table of Contents:
1. Contexts and Challenges of Organisational Innovation in Public Services
2. Supporting Organisational Innovation in the Public Sector: Creative Councils in England
3. Analysis Organisational Innovation in Public Services: Conceptual and Theoretical Issues
4. Agentifcation Processes and Agency Governance: Organisational Innovation at a Global Scale?
5. Corporatisation as Organisational Innovation
6. Mutulatisation and Public Services
7. Organisational Innovation in Public Procurement in Scotland: The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)
8. Outsourcing Public Services: Process Innovation in Dutch Municipalities
9. Governance of Public Service Companies: Australian Cases and Examples
10. Governance of Social Enterprises as Producers of Public Services
11. Championing and Governing UK Public Service Mutuals
12. Improving Governance Arrangements for Academic Entrepreneurships
13. Governance and Accountability of Joint Ventures: A Swedish Case Study
14. Contractual Governance: A Social Learning Perspective
15. Lessons for the Governance of Organisational Innovations”

What future do you want? Commission invites votes on what Europe could look like in 2050 to help steer future policy and research planning


European Commission – MEMO: “Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda, is inviting people to join a voting and ranking process on 11 visions of what the world could look like in 20-40 years. The Commission is seeking views on living and learning, leisure and working in Europe in 2050, to steer long-term policy or research planning.
The visions have been gathered over the past year through the Futurium, an online debate platform that allows policymakers to not only consult citizens, but to collaborate and “co-create” with them, and at events throughout Europe. Thousands of thinkers – from high school students, to the Erasmus Students Network; from entrepreneurs and internet pioneers to philosophers and university professors, have engaged in a collective inquiry – a means of crowd-sourcing what our future world could look like.
Eleven over-arching themes have been drawn together from more than 200 ideas for the future. From today, everyone is invited to join the debate and offer their rating and rankings of the various ideas. The results of the feedback will help the European Commission make better decisions about how to fund projects and ideas that both shape the future and get Europe ready for that future….
The Futurium is a foresight project run by DG CONNECT, based on an open source approach. It develops visions of society, technologies, attitudes and trends in 2040-2050 and use these, for example as potential blueprints for future policy choices or EU research and innovation funding priorities.
It is an online platform developed to capture emerging trends and enable interested citizens to co-create compelling visions of the futures that matter to them.

This crowd-sourcing approach provides useful insights on:

  1. vision: where people want to go, how desirable and likely are the visions posted on the platform;
  2. policy ideas: what should ideally be done to realise the futures; the possible impacts and plausibility of policy ideas;
  3. evidence: scientific and other evidence to support the visions and policy ideas.

….
Connecting policy making to people: in an increasingly connected society, online outreach and engagement is an essential response to the growing demand for participation, helping to capture new ideas and to broaden the legitimacy of the policy making process (IP/10/1296). The Futurium is an early prototype of a more general policy-making model described in the paper “The Futurium—a Foresight Platform for Evidence-Based and Participatory Policymaking“.

The Futurium was developed to lay the groundwork for future policy proposals which could be considered by the European Parliament and the European Commission under their new mandates as of 2014. But the Futurium’s open, flexible architecture makes it easily adaptable to any policy-making context, where thinking ahead, stakeholder participation and scientific evidence are needed.”

Why Research is Key to mySociety’s Future


Paul Lenz – Head of Finance and International Projects, mySociety: “mySociety operates in a field that we term the Civic Power sector. This sector includes a wide range of organizations, including non-profits like Ushahidi, The Sunlight Foundation, Avaaz and other companies like Change and Nationbuilder. There are many differences between these organizations, but they do share one thing in common: in the context of the wider civil society & development world in which we are situated, they are very young indeed.  mySociety, celebrating it’s tenth birthday this year, is one of the oldest in this sector –  but we are a spring chicken compared to the likes of Oxfam, Amnesty International and Plan
Theory of change
Our underlying philosophy – our theory of change – is that enabling (and encouraging) politically inexperienced people to take actions like reporting broken street lights or asking for government information will make people more aware of their own power to get things changed, and that will benefit both them and the communities they live in. But just because lots of people perform these actions doesn’t mean we have affected those users in any profound way.
As we have matured we have started to ask ourselves some tough questions, including:
– Does the use of our sites and services (and those of our partners) make people more powerful in the civic and democratic aspects of their lives?
– Does this power genuinely deliver tangible beneficial impacts (particularly in the face of potentially unresponsive or corrupt governments)?
– Do our tools risk increasing the power of the relatively richer, better educated and technically adept minority at the expense of the majority?

Theoretical challenges 
One of the challenges we face is that within our field there is not an easy or categorical connection between action and impact.  If you immunize a child against disease, then you can be certain that the child has a materially higher chance of remaining healthy.  There are of course wider discussions around whether immunization should be carried out by foreign NGOs or whether governments should work to improve their own health provisioning, but there is no doubt that the immunization itself is a good thing.
What about writing to a politician?  Is that a good thing?  We believe that it is.  We believe that it drives engagement and accountability and strengthens democracy.  But we can’t prove it, and we might be wrong. We must find out.
We have a great deal of data – page impressions, unique visitors, Freedom of Information requests raised, international re-uses of our code bases, messages sent to politicians, etc. – but no way of linking this to true impact.  In order to address this gap we will conduct methodologically rigorous, experimentally-driven research on both UK and international deployments of our technologies. We will then use the findings and the method we develop to encourage increased rigor in impact assessment by other organizations working in the Civic Power sector.
It is quite likely that some of these outcomes will be challenging for us, potentially suggesting that some of our workstreams have little or no true impact as things currently stand.  Nonetheless, we are committed to sharing the all of the results – good and ill – as they start to come through.”

Findings from the emerging field of Transparency Research


Tiago Peixoto: “HEC Paris has just hosted the 3rd Global Conference on Transparency Research, and they have made the list of accepted papers available. …
As one goes through the papers,  it is clear that unlike most of the open government space, when it comes to research, transparency is treated less as a matter of technology and formats and more as a matter of social and political institutions.  And that is a good thing.”
This year’s papers are listed below:

Open Government and Its Constraints


Blog entry by Panthea Lee: “Open government” is everywhere. Search the term and you’ll find OpenGovernment.orgOpenTheGovernment.orgOpen Government InitiativeOpen Gov Hub and the Open Gov Foundation; you’ll find open government initiatives for New York CityBostonKansasVirginiaTennessee and the list goes on; you’ll find dedicated open government plans for the White HouseState DepartmentUSAIDTreasuryJustice DepartmentCommerceEnergy and just about every other major federal agency. Even the departments of Defense and Homeland Security are in on open government.
And that’s just in the United States.
There is Open Government AfricaOpen Government in the EU and Open Government Data. The World Bank has an Open Government Data Toolkit and recently announced a three-year initiative to help developing countries leverage open data. And this week, over 1,000 delegates from over 60 countries are in London for the annual meeting of the Open Government Partnership, which has grown from 8 to 60 member states in just two years….
Many of us have no consensus or clarity on just what exactly “open government” iswhat we hope to achieve from it or how to measure our progress. Too often, our initiatives are designed through the narrow lenses of our own biases and without a concrete understanding of those they are intended for — both those in and out of government.
If we hope to realize the promise of more open governments, let’s be clear about the barriers we face so that we may start to overcome them.
Barrier 1: “Open Gov” is…?
Open government is… not new, for starters….
Barrier 2: Open Gov is Not Inclusive
The central irony of open government is that it’s often not “open” at all….
Barrier 3: Open Gov Lacks Empathy
Open government practitioners love to speak of “the citizen” and “the government.” But who exactly are these people? Too often, we don’t really know. We are builders, makers and creators with insufficient understanding of whom we are building, making and creating for…On the flip side, who do we mean by “the government?” And why, gosh darn it, is it so slow to innovate? Simply put, “the government” is comprised of individual people working in environments that are not conducive to innovation….
For open government to realize its potential, we must overcome these barriers.”

Selected Readings on Linked Data and the Semantic Web


The Living Library’s Selected Readings series seeks to build a knowledge base on innovative approaches for improving the effectiveness and legitimacy of governance. This curated and annotated collection of recommended works on the topic of linked data and the semantic web was originally published in 2013.

Linked Data and the Semantic Web movement are seeking to make our growing body of digital knowledge and information more interconnected, searchable, machine-readable and useful. First introduced by the W3C, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Christian Bizer and Tom Heath define Linked Data as “data published to the Web in such a way that it is machine-readable, its meaning is explicitly defined, it is linked to other external data sets, and can in turn be linked to from external datasets.” In other words, Linked Data and the Semantic Web seek to do for data what the Web did for documents. Additionally, the evolving capability of linking together different forms of data is fueling the potentially transformative rise of social machines – “processes in which the people do the creative work and the machine does the administration.”

Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Annotated Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Alani, Harith, David Dupplaw, John Sheridan, Kieron O’Hara, John Darlington, Nigel Shadbolt, and Carol Tullo. “Unlocking the Potential of Public Sector Information with Semantic Web Technology,” 2007. http://bit.ly/17fMbCt.

  • This paper explores the potential of using Semantic Web technology to increase the value of public sector information already in existence.
  • The authors note that, while “[g]overnments often hold very rich data and whilst much of this information is published and available for re-use by others, it is often trapped by poor data structures, locked up in legacy data formats or in fragmented databases. One of the great benefits that Semantic Web (SW) technology offers is facilitating the large scale integration and sharing of distributed data sources.”
  • They also argue that Linked Data and the Semantic Web are growing in use and visibility in other sectors, but government has been slower to adapt: “The adoption of Semantic Web technology to allow for more efficient use of data in order to add value is becoming more common where efficiency and value-added are important parameters, for example in business and science. However, in the field of government there are other parameters to be taken into account (e.g. confidentiality), and the cost-benefit analysis is more complex.” In spite of that complexity, the authors’ work “was intended to show that SW technology could be valuable in the governmental context.”

Berners-Lee, Tim, James Hendler, and Ora Lassila. “The Semantic Web.” Scientific American 284, no. 5 (2001): 28–37. http://bit.ly/Hhp9AZ.

  • In this article, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila introduce the Semantic Web, “a new form of Web content that is meaningful to computers [and] will unleash a revolution of new possibilities.”
  • The authors argue that the evolution of linked data and the Semantic Web “lets anyone express new concepts that they invent with minimal effort. Its unifying logical language will enable these concepts to be progressively linked into a universal Web. This structure will open up the knowledge and workings of humankind to meaningful analysis by software agents, providing a new class of tools by which we can live, work and learn together.”

Bizer, Christian, Tom Heath, and Tim Berners-Lee. “Linked Data – The Story So Far.” International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems (IJSWIS) 5, no. 3 (2009): 1–22. http://bit.ly/HedpPO.

  • In this paper, the authors take stock of Linked Data’s challenges, potential and successes close to a decade after its introduction. They build their argument for increasingly linked data by referring to the incredible value creation of the Web: “Despite the inarguable benefits the Web provides, until recently the same principles that enabled the Web of documents to flourish have not been applied to data.”
  • The authors expect that “Linked Data will enable a significant evolutionary step in leading the Web to its full potential” if a number of research challenges can be adequately addressed, both technical, like interaction paradigms and data fusion; and non-technical, like licensing, quality and privacy.

Ding, Li, Dominic Difranzo, Sarah Magidson, Deborah L. Mcguinness, and Jim Hendler. Data-Gov Wiki: Towards Linked Government Data, n.d. http://bit.ly/1h3ATHz.

  • In this paper, the authors “investigate the role of Semantic Web technologies in converting, enhancing and using linked government data” in the context of Data-gov Wiki, a project that attempts to integrate datasets found at Data.gov into the Linking Open Data (LOD) cloud.
  • The paper features discussion and “practical strategies” based on four key issue areas: Making Government Data Linkable, Linking Government Data, Supporting the Use of Linked Government Data and Preserving Knowledge Provenance.

Kalampokis, Evangelos, Michael Hausenblas, and Konstantinos Tarabanis. “Combining Social and Government Open Data for Participatory Decision-Making.” In Electronic Participation, edited by Efthimios Tambouris, Ann Macintosh, and Hans de Bruijn, 36–47. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6847. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011. http://bit.ly/17hsj4a.

  • This paper presents a proposed data architecture for “supporting participatory decision-making based on the integration and analysis of social and government data.” The authors believe that their approach will “(i) allow decision makers to understand and predict public opinion and reaction about specific decisions; and (ii) enable citizens to inadvertently contribute in decision-making.”
  • The proposed approach, “based on the use of the linked data paradigm,” draws on subjective social data and objective government data in two phases: Data Collection and Filtering and Data Analysis. “The aim of the former phase is to narrow social data based on criteria such as the topic of the decision and the target group that is affected by the decision. The aim of the latter phase is to predict public opinion and reactions using independent variables related to both subjective social and objective government data.”

Rady, Kaiser. Publishing the Public Sector Legal Information in the Era of the Semantic Web. SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, 2012. http://bit.ly/17fMiOp.

  • Following an EU directive calling for the release of public sector information by member states, this study examines the “uniqueness” of creating and publishing primary legal source documents on the web and highlights “the most recent technological strategy used to structure, link and publish data online (the Semantic Web).”
  • Rady argues for public sector legal information to be published as “open-linked-data in line with the new approach for the web.” He believes that if data is created and published in this form, “the data will be more independent from devices and applications and could be considered as a component of [a] big information system. That because, it will be well-structured, classified and has the ability to be used and utilized in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements.”

Shadbolt, Nigel, Kieron O’Hara, Tim Berners-Lee, Nicholas Gibbins, Hugh Glaser, Wendy Hall, and m.c. schraefel. “Linked Open Government Data: Lessons from Data.gov.uk.” IEEE Intelligent Systems 27, no. 3 (May 2012): 16–24. http://bit.ly/1cgdH6R.

  • In this paper, the authors view Open Government Data (OGD) as an “opportunity and a challenge for the LDW [Linked Data Web]. The opportunity is to grow by linking with PSI [Public Sector Information] – real-world, useful information with good provenance. The challenge is to manage the sudden influx of heterogeneous data, often with minimal semantics and structure, tailored to highly specific task contexts.
  • As the linking of OGD continues, the authors argue that, “Releasing OGD is not solely a technical problem, although it presents technical challenges. OGD is not a rigid government IT specification, but it demands productive dialogue between data providers, users, and developers. We should expect a ‘perpetual beta,’ in which best practice, technical development, innovative use of data, and citizen-centric politics combine to drive data-release programs.”
  • Despite challenges, the authors believe that, “Integrating OGD onto the LDW will vastly increase the scope and richness of the LDW. A reciprocal benefit is that the LDW will provide additional resources and context to enrich OGD. Here, we see the network effect in action, with resources mutually adding value to one another.”

Vitale, Michael, Anni Rowland-Campbell, Valentina Cardo, and Peter Thompson. “The Implications of Government as a ‘Social Machine’ for Making and Implementing Market-based Policy.” Intersticia, September 2013. http://bit.ly/HhMzqD.

  • This report from the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) explores the concept of government as a social machine. The authors draw on the definition of a social machine proposed by Sir Nigel Shadbolt et al. – a system where “human and computational intelligence coalesce in order to achieve a given purpose” – to describe a “new approach to the relationship between citizens and government, facilitated by technological systems which are increasingly becoming intuitive, intelligent and ‘social.'”
  • The authors argue that beyond providing more and varied data to government, the evolving concept of government as a social machine as the potential to alter power dynamics, address the growing lack of trust in public institutions and facilitate greater public involvement in policy-making.

The GovLab Academy: A Community and Platform for Learning and Teaching Governance Innovations


Press Release: “Today the Governance Lab (The GovLab) launches The GovLab Academy at the Open Government Partnership Annual Meeting in London.
Available at www.thegovlabacademy.org, the Academy is a free online community for those wanting to teach and learn how to solve public problems and improve lives using innovations in governance. A partnership between The GovLab  at New York University and MIT Media Lab’s Online Learning Initiative, the site launching today offers curated videos, podcasts, readings and activities designed to enable the purpose driven learner to deepen his or her practical knowledge at her own pace.
The GovLab Academy is funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “The GovLab Academy addresses a growing need among policy makers at all levels – city, federal and global – to leverage advances in technology to govern differently,” says Carol Coletta, Vice President of Community and National Initiatives at the Knight Foundation.  “By connecting the latest technological innovations to a community of willing mentors, the Academy has the potential to catalyze more experimentation in a sector that badly needs it.”
Initial topics include using data to improve policymaking and cover the role of big data, urban analytics, smart disclosure and open data in governance. A second track focuses on online engagement and includes practical strategies for using crowdsourcing to solicit ideas, organize distributed work and gather data.  The site features both curated content drawn from a variety of sources and original interviews with innovators from government, civil society, the tech industry, the arts and academia talking about their work around the world implementing innovations in practice, what worked and what didn’t, to improve real people’s lives.
Beth Noveck, Founder and Director of The GovLab, describes its mission: “The Academy is an experiment in peer production where every teacher is a learner and every learner a teacher. Consistent with The GovLab’s commitment to measuring what works, we want to measure our success by the people contributing as well as consuming content. We invite everyone with ideas, stories, insights and practical wisdom to contribute to what we hope will be a thriving and diverse community for social change”.”

New U.S. Open Government National Action Plan


The White House Fact Sheet: “In September 2011, President Obama joined the leaders of seven other nations in announcing the launch of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) – a global effort to encourage transparent, effective, and accountable governance.
Two years later, OGP has grown to 60 countries that have made more than 1000 commitments to improve the governance of more than two billion people around the globe.  OGP is now a global community of government reformers, civil society leaders, and business innovators working together to develop and implement ambitious open government reforms and advance good governance…
Today at the OGP summit in London, the United States announced a new U.S. Open Government National Action Plan that includes six ambitious new commitments that will advance these efforts even further.  Those commitments include expanding open data, modernizing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), increasing fiscal transparency, increasing corporate transparency, advancing citizen engagement and empowerment, and more effectively managing public resources.
Expand Open Data:  Open Data fuels innovation that grows the economy and advances government transparency and accountability.  Government data has been used by journalists to uncover variations in hospital billings, by citizens to learn more about the social services provided by charities in their communities, and by entrepreneurs building new software tools to help farmers plan and manage their crops.  Building upon the successful implementation of open data commitments in the first U.S. National Action Plan, the new Plan will include commitments to make government data more accessible and useful for the public, such as reforming how Federal agencies manage government data as a strategic asset, launching a new version of Data.gov, and expanding agriculture and nutrition data to help farmers and communities.
Modernize the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):  The FOIA encourages accountability through transparency and represents a profound national commitment to open government principles.  Improving FOIA administration is one of the most effective ways to make the U.S. Government more open and accountable.  Today, the United States announced a series of commitments to further modernize FOIA processes, including launching a consolidated online FOIA service to improve customers’ experience and making training resources available to FOIA professionals and other Federal employees.
Increase Fiscal Transparency:   The Administration will further increase the transparency of where Federal tax dollars are spent by making federal spending data more easily available on USASpending.gov; facilitating the publication of currently unavailable procurement contract information; and enabling Americans to more easily identify who is receiving tax dollars, where those entities or individuals are located, and how much they receive.
Increase Corporate Transparency:  Preventing criminal organizations from concealing the true ownership and control of businesses they operate is a critical element in safeguarding U.S. and international financial markets, addressing tax avoidance, and combatting corruption in the United States and abroad.  Today we committed to take further steps to enhance transparency of legal entities formed in the United States.
Advance Citizen Engagement and Empowerment:  OGP was founded on the principle that an active and robust civil society is critical to open and accountable governance.  In the next year, the Administration will intensify its efforts to roll back and prevent new restrictions on civil society around the world in partnership with other governments, multilateral institutions, the philanthropy community, the private sector, and civil society.  This effort will focus on improving the legal and regulatory framework for civil society, promoting best practices for government-civil society collaboration, and conceiving of new and innovative ways to support civil society globally.
More Effectively Manage Public Resources:   Two years ago, the Administration committed to ensuring that American taxpayers receive every dollar due for the extraction of the nation’s natural resources by committing to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).  We continue to work toward achieving full EITI compliance in 2016.  Additionally, the U.S. Government will disclose revenues on geothermal and renewable energy and discuss future disclosure of timber revenues.
For more information on OGP, please visit www.opengovpartnership.org or follow @opengovpart on Twitter.”
See also White House Plans a Single FOIA Portal Across Government

Open Data Barometer


Press Release by the Open Data Research Network: “New research by World Wide Web Foundation and Open Data Institute shows that 55% of countries surveyed have open data initiatives in place, yet less than 10% of key government datasets across the world are truly open to the public…the Open Data Barometer. This 77-country study, which considers the interlinked areas of policy, implementation and impact, ranks the UK at number one. The USA, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway (tied) make up the rest of the top five. Kenya is ranked as the most advanced developing country, outperforming richer countries such as Ireland, Italy and Belgium in global comparisons.

The Barometer reveals that:

  • 55% of countries surveyed have formal open data policies in place.

  • Valuable but potentially controversial datasets – such as company registers and land registers – are among the least likely to be openly released. It is unclear whether this stems from reluctance to drop lucrative access charges, or from desire to keep a lid on politically sensitive information, or both. However, the net effect is to severely limit the accountability benefits of open data.

  • When they are released, government datasets are often issued in inaccessible formats. Across the nations surveyed, fewer that than 1 in 10 key datasets that could be used to hold governments to account, stimulate enterprise, and promote better social policy, are available and truly open for re-use.

The research also makes the case that:

  • Efforts should be made to empower civil society, entrepreneurs and members of the public to use government data made available, rather than simply publishing data online.

  • Business activity and innovation can be boosted by strong open data policies.  In Denmark, for example, free of charge access to address data has had a significant economic impact. In 2010, an evaluation recorded an estimated financial benefit to society of EUR 62 million against costs of EUR 2million.”

Seizing the data opportunity: UK data capability strategy


New UK Policy Paper by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills: “In the information economy, the ability to handle and analyse data is essential for the UK’s competitive advantage and business transformation. The volume, velocity and variety of data being created and analysed globally is rising every day, and using data intelligently has the potential to transform public sector organisations, drive research and development, and enable market-changing products and services. The social and economic potential is significant, and the UK is well placed to compete in the global market for data analytics. Through this strategy, the government aims to place the UK at the forefront of this process by building our capability to exploit data for the benefit of citizens, business, and academia. This is our action plan for making the UK a data success story.

Working in partnership with business and academia, the government has developed a shared vision for the UK’s data capability, with the aim of making the UK a worldleader in extracting insight and value from data for the benefit of citizens and consumers, business and academia, the public and the private sectors. The Information Economy Council and the E-infrastructure Leadership Council will oversee delivery of the actions in this strategy, and continue to develop additional
plans to support this vision.
Data capability: This strategy focuses on three overarching aspects to data capability. The first is human capital – a skilled workforce, and data-confident citizens. The second covers the tools and infrastructure which are available to store and analyse data. The third is data itself as an enabler – data capability is underpinned by the ability of consumers, businesses and academia to access and share data appropriately…”