Innovation Barometer: Measuring Public Sector Innovation - GovTech Accelerator

Innovation Barometer: Measuring Public Sector Innovation

Following the conclusion of Lightning Lab GovTech 2019 one of the cohort, Activate Innovation, have secured funding from the Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund in partnership with New Zealand G2G Know-How at NZTE to develop their Innovation Barometer. We sat down with Sally Hett, Lightning Lab GovTech programme manager and Activate Innovation project lead to discuss how data can help drive better outcomes for citizens.


Tell us a little about where this project came from?

Activate Innovation was a team sponsored by Creative HQ in the 2019 Lightning Lab GovTech cohort. As an organisation focused on fostering innovation in New Zealand, Creative HQ wanted to investigate public sector innovation at a high level. It just seemed like a perfect fit to use methodologies that we have tried and tested ourselves to get a better understanding of this GovTech landscape that we are working within.


What did the team discover through the GovTech programme?

The short answer is that New Zealand’s public sector wants and needs to be more innovative but there are some pretty significant things getting in the way of doing this effectively. Public sector innovation can drive better outcomes for citizens, however there are systemic barriers preventing innovation. This might be resourcing, competing priorities, rigid policy or out of date systems.

Successful innovative initiatives do exist in the public sector. The trouble is that they are usually the result of individual efforts. In order for change to have a real impact on a lot of people we need a supportive and empowering environment for our public servants.


“We need to show senior leaders and managers that it’s OK to innovate.”

Hon Grant Robertson, New Zealand Minister of Finance


This poses a whole new set of questions: How can we provide citizens with access to data to hold their government to account? How can we provide Senior Leaders with data showing the value of innovation and data that makes the gaps and risks of not innovating, impossible to ignore? What happens if they don’t innovate? How can we ensure that resources are not wasted on solutions that don’t deliver the desired outcomes?

These are the top-level issues that the Innovation Barometer is designed to address.


Innovation Barometer – what is that exactly?

The Innovation Barometer will put real data in front of Senior Leaders, acting as a spotlight on the successes and shortcoming of a given agency while also providing access to information on ways the shortcomings can be addressed. The barometer captures data on innovations that are already taking place in an agency as well as the factors that affect that agency’s ability to innovate. This shifts innovation from an intangible, vague concept towards a holistic measure that agencies can track themselves against showing the value of public sector innovation.

Aggregated data from all participating central government agencies will be presented as a snapshot to capture a top level view of the public sector. Each agency will have their own interactive barometer, highlighting their unique areas for improvement. This deeper level of visibility, understanding and actionable steps will help to create efficiencies and better project outcomes whilst increasing staff satisfaction and promoting trust, transparency, and citizen engagement.


Sounds great! So what’s the plan forward from here?

With the $204k funding received from the Digital Government Leadership Group, we are working to pilot the barometer in 2020. As of March 2020 we are building and testing the data development and collection process with our academic partners and participating central government agencies. We’re using a co-design approach to ensure we get all the data we need in an ethical way. We’ve got a fantastic level of support from senior leadership which really helps get public servants on board and contributing to this process. The commitment from the Digital Government Leadership Group signals strong buy-in to the barometer.

We are supported by a cross-government advisory board to advocate for the work and provide oversight. So far 19 central government agencies have been involved in the creation of the barometer. We’re really excited at the potential of this project – I think it is going to be a crucial step towards making innovation a central part of our public sector.


Keen to contribute to the development of the Innovation Barometer? You can get in touch via our website – click here for more details. Be sure to sign up for our Lightning Lab GovTech Newsletter to get all the latest GovTech news straight to your inbox.

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