Futurs Publics : Harnessing innovation to modernise government

Written by , OPSI Staff on 19 June 2014

What are the challenges?

Well, there are plenty of challenges for Futurs Publics to address…:

  • Getting government to work with new partners like business start-ups and social entrepreneurs
  • Improve public services for citizens and businesses creatively
  • Using public resources more efficiently
  • And last but by no means least – having a real and significant impact on French citizens’ lives

So what is Futurs Publics doing?

  • Creating a ‘laboratory’: that is supporting innovative projects
  • Building an ‘ecosystem’: by mobilising and inspiring the public sector players

But what does that really mean?

Well, to give you some examples, Futurs Publics is already working on four projects that we think are pretty innovative:

  • Changing how people apply for social  benefit to reflect their personal circumstances
  • Trialling more personalised applications for disability benefits and drastically improving service efficiency
  • Reorganising public services in rural areas to improve co-operation and accessibility
  • Using digital technologies for learning in schools

But of course that’s not it. We regularly ask the government for new ideas. We select certain ones and support them to become fully blown projects by providing laboratory-like project testing and financial support.

Developing an innovative culture in government

But it’s not just about shiny new innovative projects. Government modernisation is about changing how government works. That’s why Futurs Publics strives to create and inspire an “ecosystem” that supports innovation in government itself. Part of this means not being afraid to go outside the public sector, to learn from external experts because modernising also means accepting that the government can’t do everything on its own. It needs to build partnerships and work with service users to create a better public service together.

Innovation prizes in government are encouraging officials to take the initiative themselves. While a community of public sector innovators provides a place to network and discuss, bringing together people from different sectors. To reach out beyond government,  practitioner / researcher seminars are enabling government employees to meet and discuss. Finally, “Encounter Days” between government officials, business start-ups, social entrepreneurs and innovators are helping to spark new ideas for co-operation.

At the international level, we think that the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation has an important role to play, by inspiring the public sector, connecting actors and promoting innovation. With its online collaborative platform it’s providing governments with a unique opportunity to share their innovative practices at an international level and to co-operate. But then, it’s probably no surprise that we’d say that, given we’re co-chairing a group of OECD countries that are developing the Observatory.

Nationally and internationally, innovation is on the march!

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