Abandoning Silos: How innovative governments are collaborating horizontally to solve complex problems

Report by Michael Crawford Urban: “The complex challenges that governments at all levels are facing today cut across long-standing and well-defined government boundaries and organizational structures. Solving these problems therefore requires a horizontal approach. This report looks at how such an approach can be successfully implemented.There are a number of key obstacles to effective horizontal collaboration in government, ranging from misaligned professional incentive structures to incompatible computer systems. But a number of governments – Estonia, the UK, and New Zealand – have all recently introduced innovative initiatives that are succeeding in creatively tackling these complex horizontal challenges. In each case, this is delivering critical benefits – reduced government costs and regulatory burdens, getting more out of existing personnel while recruiting more high quality professionals, or providing new and impactful data-driven insights that are helping improve the quality of human services.

How are they achieving this? We answer this question by using an analytical framework organized along three fundamental dimensions: governance(structuring accountability and responsibility), people (managing culture and personnel), and data (collecting, transmitting and using information). In each of our three cases, we show how specific steps taken along one of these dimensions can help overcome important obstacles that commonly arise and, in so doing, enable successful horizontal collaboration….(More)”.

The role of Ombudsman Institutions in Open Government

Report by K.Zuegel, E. Cantera, and A. Bellantoni: “Ombudsman institutions (OIs) act as the guardians of citizens’ rights and as a mediator between citizens and the public administration. While the very existence of such institutions is rooted in the notion of open government, the role they can play in promoting openness throughout the public administration has not been adequately recognized or exploited. Based on a survey of 94 OIs, this report examines the role they play in open government policies and practices. It also provides recommendations on how, given their privileged contact with both people and governments, OIs can better promote transparency, integrity, accountability, and stakeholder participation; how their role in national open government strategies and initiatives can be strengthened; and how they can be at the heart of a truly open state….(More)”.

Making NHS data work for everyone

Reform: This report looks at the access and use of NHS data by private sector companies for research or product and service development purposes….

The private sector is an important partner to the NHS and plays a crucial role in the development of healthcare technologies that use data collected by hospitals or GP practices. It provides the skills and know-how to develop data-driven tools which can be used to improve patient care. However, this is not a one-sided exchange as the NHS makes the data available to build these tools and offers medical expertise to make sense of the data. This is known as the “value exchange”. Our research uncovered that there is a lack of clarity over what a fair value exchange looks like. This lack of clarity in conjunction with the lack of national guidance on the types of partnerships that could be developed has led to a patchwork on the ground….

Knowing what the “value exchange” is between patients, the NHS and industry allows for a more informed conversation about what constitutes a fair partnership when there is access to data to create a product or service


  1. Engage with the public
  2. A national strategy
  3. Access to good quality data
  4. Commercial and legal skills…(More)

G20/OECD Compendium of good practices on the use of open data for Anti-corruption

OECD: “This compendium of good practices was prepared by the OECD at the request of the G20 Anti-corruption Working Group (ACWG), to raise awareness of the benefits of open data policies and initiatives in: 

  • fighting corruption,
  • increasing public sector transparency and integrity,
  • fostering economic development and social innovation.

This compendium provides an overview of initiatives for the publication and re-use of open data to fight corruption across OECD and G20 countries and underscores the impact that a digital transformation of the public sector can deliver in terms of better governance across policy areas.  The practices illustrate the use of open data as a way of fighting corruption and show how open data principles can be translated into concrete initiatives.

The publication is divided into three sections:

Section 1 discusses the benefits of open data for greater public sector transparency and performance, national competitiveness and social engagement, and how these initiatives contribute to greater public trust in government.

Section 2 highlights the preconditions necessary across different policy areas related to anti-corruption (e.g. open government, public procurement) to sustain the implementation of an “Open by default” approach that could help government move from a perspective that focuses on increasing access to public sector information to one that enhances the publication of open government data for re-use and value co-creation. 

Section 3 presents the results of the OECD survey administered across OECD and G20 countries, good practices on the publishing and reusing of open data for anti-corruption in G20 countries, and lessons learned from the definition and implementation of these initiatives. This chapter also discusses the implications for broader national matters such as freedom of press, and the involvement of key actors of the open data ecosystem (e.g. journalists and civil society organisations) as key partners in open data re-use for anti-corruption…(More)”.

Our bold vision for Australia’s digital future

Speech by Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation, Michael Keenan: ” …The job of the Australian Government is to keep Australia at the forefront of these changes and work to utilise digital advances for the good of the whole population….

This is the most exciting story in town. Digital transformation will change how government does things for you. It will mean much less red tape and much more responsive policy. It means we can harness data to deliver social and economic benefits. It will mean the government can be there whenever you need us, but we will stay out of your way when you don’t, so you can go about your life with minimal interference….

To power this transformation forward I am very pleased to announce today the launch of our Digital Transformation Strategy. This Strategy sets out a bold vision for Australia to remain in the top 3 digital governments in the world by 2025..

The Strategy will provide a clear direction for our work on data and digital transformation, with the aim to have all government services available digitally in the next 7 years.

The Strategy is accompanied by a comprehensive Roadmap of key projects and milestones being rolled out over the next two years….

Our new approach is to design services that respond to common life events — like having a baby or starting a new job.

This is a big change from the way we do things now, where a member of the public has to go to any number of government departments, online or community groups to find information and services.

We currently organise government around our imperatives and needs, but in the future we will organise it around yours….

For example, digital technology will make it possible to deliver a fully personalised digital assistant.

That means that everyone accessing government services may have access to their own dedicated, personal avatar assistant, that can talk in their language, know their preferences, understand their needs and provide a familiar face to dealing with the government.

This is not science-fiction. In fact, a couple of years ago, my department had a prototype – Nadia – that was world leading.

Unfortunately, Nadia wasn’t quite ready at the time to deliver on the promise, but technology is evolving rapidly. I am confident that the day when such assistants will be around us – both in government and in private enterprise – is not that far away.

We already see smart assistants in our lives, whether it’s Siri and Cortana in our phones and computers, or Amazon’s Alexa or Google in our homes.

Having your own dedicated government digital assistant also means that, as a government, we will be able to deliver truly personalised services.

While we are starting with re-focusing government services around life events, our ambition is to end up offering you tailored support when you need it, based on your individual circumstances….(More)”.

See also: Digital Transformation Strategy.

Better Data for Doing Good: Responsible Use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

Report by the World Bank: “Describes opportunities for harnessing the value of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) for social good and how new families of AI algorithms now make it possible to obtain actionable insights automatically and at scale. Beyond internet business or commercial applications, multiple examples already exist of how big data and AI can help achieve shared development objectives, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But ethical frameworks in line with increased uptake of these new technologies remain necessary—not only concerning data privacy but also relating to the impact and consequences of using data and algorithms. Public recognition has grown concerning AI’s potential to create both opportunities for societal benefit and risks to human rights. Development calls for seizing the opportunity to shape future use as a force for good, while at the same time ensuring the technologies address inequalities and avoid widening the digital divide….(More)”.

The Innovation System of the Public Service of Canada

OECD: Today, the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) is pleased to announce the release of The Innovation System of the Public Service of Canada, the first of the OECD’s reviews of a national public sector innovation system….Some of the key findings and observations from the report include:

  • The Government of Canada starts with a strong base, having a long demonstrated history of innovation. The civil service also has a longstanding awareness and appreciation of the need for innovation.
  • There has been an ongoing recognition that the Public Service of Canada needs to continue to adapt and be responsive. Respective Clerks (the Heads of the Public Service) have repeatedly identified the need to go further.
  • Much of the ‘low-hanging’ fruit (i.e. activities to support public sector innovation such as awards, efforts to remove hurdles, introduction of new tools) has already been picked, but this is unlikely to lead to long term sustainability.
  • The innovation system is still relatively fragmented, in that most actors are experiencing the same system in different ways. New approaches are needed.
  • The Canadian Public Service has made some significant steps towards a more systemic approach to public sector innovation. However, it is likely that without continuous efforts and direction the innovation system will not be able to consistently and reliably contribute to the delivery of the best outcomes for citizens.

Given that much is still being learnt about public sector innovation, the report avoids a prescriptive approach as to what should be done. It identifies potential areas of intervention, but recognises that the context will continue to evolve, and that the specific actions taken should be matched to the ambitions and intent of the Public Service of Canada.

An innovation system is made up of many parts and contributed to by many actors. The effectiveness of the innovation system – i.e. its ability to consistently and reliably develop and deliver innovative solutions that contribute to achieving the goals and priorities of the government – will depend on collective effort, involving action from different actors at the individual, organisational, and system levels.

While a range of options are put forward, the aim of this review, and the guidance included within it, is to help provide a reflection of the system so that all actors can see themselves within it. This can provide a contribution to the ongoing discussion and deliberation about what the collective aim for innovation is within the Public Service of Canada, and how everyone can play a part, and be supported in that….(More)”.

Quantum Information Science: Applications, Global Research and Development, and Policy Considerations

Report from the Congressional Research Service: “Quantum information science (QIS) combines elements of mathematics, computer science, engineering, and physical sciences, and has the potential to provide capabilities far beyond what is possible with the most advanced technologies available today.
Although much of the press coverage of QIS has been devoted to quantum computing, there is more to QIS. Many experts divide QIS technologies into three application areas:

  • Sensing and metrology,
  • Communications, and
  • Computing and simulation.

… Today, QIS is a component of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (Presidential Executive Order 13702), which was established in 2015. Most recently, in September 2018, the National Science and Technology Council issued the National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science. The policy opportunities identified in this strategic overview include:

  • choosing a science-first approach to QIS,
  • creating a “quantum-smart” workforce,
  • deepening engagement with the quantum industry,
  • providing critical infrastructure,
  • maintaining national security and economic growth, and
  • advancing international cooperation.

This report provides an overview of QIS technologies: sensing and metrology, communications, and computing and simulation. It also includes examples of existing and potential future applications; brief summaries of funding and selected R&D initiatives in the United States and elsewhere around the world; a description of U.S. congressional activity; and a discussion of related policy considerations….(More)”.

Learning Through Citizen Science: Enhancing Opportunities by Design

National Academies: “Scientific research that involves nonscientists contributing to research processes – also known as ‘citizen science’ – supports participants’ learning, engages the public in science, contributes to community scientific literacy, and can serve as a valuable tool to facilitate larger scale research, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  If one of the goals of a citizen science project is to advance learning, designers should plan for it by defining intended learning outcomes and using evidence-based strategies to reach those outcomes.

“This report affirms that citizen science projects can help participants learn scientific practices and content, but most likely only if the projects are designed to support learning,” says Rajul Pandya, chair of the committee that wrote the report and director, Thriving Earth Exchange, AGU.  

The term “citizen science” can be applied to a wide variety of projects that invite nonscientists to engage in doing science with the intended goal of advancing scientific knowledge or application. For example, a citizen science project might engage community members in collecting data to monitor the health of a local stream. As another example, among the oldest continuous organized datasets in the United States are records kept by farmers and agricultural organizations that document the timing of important events, such as sowing, harvests, and pest outbreaks.

Citizen science can support science learning in several ways, the report says. It offers people the opportunity to participate in authentic scientific endeavors, encourages learning through projects conducted in real-world contexts, supports rich social interaction that deepens learning, and engages participants with real data. Citizen science also includes projects that grow out of a community’s desire to address an inequity or advance a priority. For example, the West-Oakland Indicators Project, a community group in Oakland, Calif., self-organizes to collect and analyze air quality data and uses that data to address trucking in and around schools to reduce local children’s exposure to air pollution. When communities can work alongside scientists to advance their priorities, enhanced community science literacy is one possible outcome….

In order to maximize learning outcomes, the report recommends that designers and practitioners of citizen science projects should intentionally build them for learning. This involves knowing the audience; intentionally designing for diversity; engaging stakeholders in the design; supporting multiple kinds of participant engagement; encouraging social interaction; building learning supports into the project; and iteratively improving projects through evaluation and refinement.  Engaging stakeholders and participants in design and implementation results in more learning for all participants, which can support other project goals. 

The report also lays out a research agenda that can help to build the field of citizen science by filling gaps in the current understanding of how citizen science can support science learning and enhance science education. Researchers should consider three important factors: citizen science extends beyond academia and therefore, evidence for practices that advance learning can be found outside of peer-reviewed literature; research should include attention to practice and link theory to application; and attention must be given to diversity in all research, including ensuring broad participation in the design and implementation of the research. Pursuing new lines of inquiry can help add value to the existing research, make future research more productive, and provide support for effective project implementation….(More)”.

New study on eGovernment shows how Europe’s digital public services can do better

European Commission: “Today the European Commission published a new study, the eGovernment benchmark report 2018, which demonstrates that the availability and quality of online public services have improved in the EU. Overall there has been significant progress in respect to the efficient use of public information and services online, transparency of government authorities’ operations and users’ control of personal data, cross-border mobility and key enablers, such as the availability of electronic identity cards and other documents.

EU average scores on different eGov criteria such as user centricity, transparency and cross-border mobility

10 EU countries (Malta, Austria, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Portugal, Denmark) and Norway are delivering high-quality digital services with a score above 75% on important events of daily life such as moving, finding a job, starting a business or studying. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are outperforming the rest of the countries in terms of digitisation of the public administrations and adoption of online public services....

Further efforts are notably needed in cross-border mobility and digital identification. So far only 6 EU countries have notified their eID means which enables their cross-border recognition….(More) (Report)”