The Public Sector Innovation Network Coordination Group

[Originally published on the Australian Government Public Sector Innovation Network under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY AU licence]

Which agency in the Australian Public Service is the best at innovative delivery? Who does it reasonably well, and who needs … improvement?

This is a topic that is often discussed at the Public Sector Innovation Network’s Coordination Group, a mix of officers from across the APS that get together every month to share information and to cooperate on major cross-agency activities (such as Innovation Month 2014).

It was something we considered again at our last meeting in February, in part informed by the assessments of agencies by the Australian Public Service Commission Capability Reviews. While many of the Departments have subsequently had machinery of government changes, these reviews still provide an informed look at the innovative delivery strengths (and gaps) across much of the APS.

The full capability reviews can be found on the Australian Public Service Commission website or we have provided a simple aggregation of the capability reviews assessments against the criteria of ‘innovative delivery’ (DOCX 94KB | PDF 712KB).

This provides a useful stocktake of progress in embedding innovation as a core agency capability. It also gives us the opportunity to consider the respective strengths and weaknesses of different agencies in innovation, and how the Coordination Group can best share the relevant lessons, experiences, ideas and challenges.

It isn’t easy for any organisation to embed, and keep embedded, an innovation strategy or initiative – we can see that from the rise and fall of firms in the private sector as much from experiences with the public sector.

Yet increasingly we, as a group, do know more about what is needed for innovation – while it is no guarantee of success, the core components are becoming clearer.

To that end, the Coordination Group has recently formalised its Terms of Reference (PDF 327KB) to give a clearer sense of its focus areas and how it operates. We have also formalised the members within each agency and are publishing their names on the site. These contact points are not necessarily ‘responsible’ for innovation, but act as enthusiasts and contacts for innovation within their agency.

If your agency is not represented and you would like to participate, please send us an email.

We would also like to hear from people within the APS and the broader public sector innovation network in capital cities other than Canberra. We would like to find members who might be willing to act as local contact points for others interested in public sector innovation in their region – whether it be for events or for informal meetings to share experiences.

After all, innovation is a social process. It is about people, and connecting people with the ideas, the energy and the desire to do things differently.