2021: A Year in Review at OPSI

Written by , OPSI Staff on 22 December 2021

2021 was yet another busy year at OPSI! As the rate and complexity of global challenges increases, so does our work. In cooperation with partners and counterparts, we complete another successful year of leveraging our expertise in global trends, public sector innovation systems, transformative technology and innovation skills, processes and methods.

  • We held over 50 workshops, webinars and events
  • Issued 13 reports
  • Published 46 blogs

And held hundreds meetings to drive the point home: that we MUST embed innovation in the public sector!

The increasing participation across our events underscores the desire for change. Each year, we witness an increased appetite for turning the ‘new’ into the ‘normal’. And with the continuous crisis brought by the pandemic our window of opportunity is NOW.

The Government Beyond Recovery: Towards a future-fit public sector conference highlighted just that. It provided a platform to reflect back on the learnings of the past two years and think forward – exploring how we can use recovery as a launchpad for better governance and a better future for society. We connected over 95 high-level and expert speakers with more than 2000 participants to discuss all things public sector innovation: from building national governance capacities and cross-border collaborations, leveraging co-creation and behavioural sciences, to building digital by default services and agile regulations for more sustainable futures and coordinated global action. For those of you who didn’t make it the recordings to all 17 panel sessions are now online.

Innovation Facet Briefs: What is innovation, anyway?

With support from the European Commission’s H2020 programme, we launched five innovation briefs based on the innovation facets model. Therein we dove deep into ‘what’ ‘when’ ‘where’ and ‘why’ of anticipatory innovation, adaptive innovation, mission-oriented innovation, enhancement-oriented innovation and innovation portfolios. We looked at the type of public sector innovations that exist, the innovative ideas generated and different approaches needed, the methods used to support investment in innovation projects and the capacity and resources required.


Country Scans and Studies

A key part of OPSI’s work is dedicated to working directly with governments to analyse and strengthen their public sector systems capacity. This year we supported Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Latvia and Slovenia.

In Denmark, we explored the country’s innovation journey over the last decades. In collaboration with the Danish National Centre for Public Sector Innovation (COI), we analysed the country context and current public sector innovation system and provided five key considerations to prepare Denmark for 2030 and beyond.

 In Finland, we supported the development of a preliminary assessment of their current public policy steering system and anticipatory capacity. Based on several years of working with the Government of Finland and the European Commission, the report showcases lessons learned that can be applied internationally.

 In Ireland, we explored the value and challenges of implementing strategic foresight into the public sector. In close cooperation with the Government of Ireland, we identified action points to further develop the country’s capacity in this area and lead the way for a future-fit Ireland.

 In Latvia, we conducted a national public sector innovation scan, undertaken in conjunction with the Latvian State Chancellery and with the support of the European Union’s Directorate General for Structural Reform Support. The scan explores how to take more deliberate, strategic and systemic approach to innovation.

 In Slovenia, we look at the future of public sector talent management. Together with the Ministry of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia and SI2021EU, and by building and analysing alternative future scenarios, the report outlines how strategic foresight can help frame complex and uncertain problems affecting talent demand and supply in public administration.

Interested in conducting an innovation scan or country study in your government? Contact us at: [email protected]


Cross-Border Innovation

It was also a big year for our cross-border innovation work. Together with the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI), we identified leading themes, key practices and success factors underpinning cross-border government innovation efforts. These efforts resulted in two major reports on Achieving Cross Border Government Innovation: Governing cross-border challenges and surfacing insights and experimenting across borders.

The first report in this series focuses on innovation bodies providing top-down or centre-out direction and networks enabling horizontal linkages for collaboration.

The second report highlights efforts that enable bottom-up flows of information across borders in order to bring forth ideas and perspectives.

A third report will be launched in March 2022.


Behavioural Insights

Over the past years, Behavioural Insights (BI) has become an increasingly important tool for better policymaking worldwide. With our behavioural insights team, OPSI supports member countries in applying behavioural science to public policy and improve the understanding and adoption of behaviourally-informed policies.

The OECD international BI expert Network now conveys more than 100 official government representatives from 42 countries, with now several hundred units running projects in governments around the globe, constituting a diverse community across a wide range of policy areas.

In 2021, OPSI held several BI events including two BI expert meetings in 2021, gathering over 100 government representatives from more than 40 countries to explore how BI can foster collaboration across governments, coordination on pressing global policy issues and knowledge sharing of behavioural science expertise.

In addition, the BI team launched three new OECD’s behavioural insights tools:

  • An interactive world map with institutions around the world applying BI to public policy
  • A knowledge hub featuring ongoing and completed BI projects and case studies across policy issues
  • A pre-registration tool for BI projects relating to public policy

Since the official launch of our three BI tools with the BI Network in October, OPSI received overwhelming support and enthusiasm for these BI initiatives. In less than 2 months, we now have 161 BI units around the world on our dedicated OECD platform on BI and our BI project map now features more than 80 BI projects being carried out by these units.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank all the partners who has been instrumental in providing an enabling environment for OPSI’s public sector innovation work over the past year and look forward to engaging with new ones in the year ahead.

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