The OECD 11 February 2018 report, Embracing Innovation in Government: Global Trends 2018, is based on “a global review of ways governments are transforming their operations and improving the lives of their citizens though innovation.”  58 countries contributed 276 cases of innovative initiatives.

The Report identifies 3 Key Trends and 10 Case Studies.

The OPEC website Blog gives a good summary of the findings

In particular, we found that governments are:

  1. Building digital identity solutions as a foundation for new services, supporting people and businesses to express their unique identities, and spurring new discussions on national identity.
  2. Embracing systems approaches and enablers to lead a paradigm shift in how services are provided; transforming and re-aligning the underlying processes and methods of the business of government.
  3. Fostering better conditions for inclusiveness and vulnerable populations, in order to address complex current and future problems, and to create a world in which no one is left behind and everyone has access to opportunities for a better life.

Each of these trends includes a discussion of key underlying themes observed by OPSI, as well as a series of recommendations to help governments unlock innovation. Each section of the report also has in-depth case studies of the trend in action that are a direct result of the Call for Innovations.


The OPEC Blog also gives an overview of the case studies (Australia is represented in one of the Identity case studies):

The case studies in the report are:

Identity Aadhaar (India) – the world’s largest biometric identity program (1.2 billion Indians). Highly innovative in its rapid scaling to access public and private sector services, but also highly controversial among privacy and security advocates.
Be Badges (Belgium) – a digital platform where employers, schools and others can formally recognise individuals’ experiences using Open Badges. Badge-earners can share their badges with others and the labour market, and employers can access the platform to find new employees.
Australian Trade Mark Search (Australia) – a revolutionary image recognition and AI tool to help companies to create a brand that serves as a critical foundation upon which their businesses can be built, and helps distinguish their identity and their unique products and services in the marketplace.
The World’s First Data Embassy (Estonia) – servers stored in other countries that fall under Estonian jurisdiction. Copies of key databases are stored there and can be accessed in the event of a major incident. Through this initiative and others, Estonia is becoming a “country without borders”.
Systems approaches and enablers APEX (Singapore) – a whole-of-government platform which establishes common application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow public agencies to share data with other agencies and private entities through a user-friendly portal that even non-technical staff can use.
Predictiv (United Kingdom) – an online platform for running behavioural experiments. It enables governments to run randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with an online population of participants, and to test whether new policies and interventions work before they are deployed in the real world.
Free Agents and GC Talent Cloud (Canada) – aims to become a validated, searchable repository of cross-sector talent. It envisions a digital marketplace where workers have flexibility to choose work project-based work inside and outside government, as offered.
Inclusiveness and vulnerable populations Seoul 50+ policy (Republic of Korea) – an innovative convergence of social welfare, employment and life-long learning policies, geared towards addressing the needs of an ageing society; redefining the meaning of “work” in an era of ageing populations.
Financial Inclusion Programme for Migrants (Mexico) – an innovative financial services initiative that provides bank accounts and other support at mobile border branches to a unique set of migrants – Mexican citizens repatriating from the United States amid a political climate that has added a great degree of uncertainty to their lives.
Asker Welfare Lab (Norway) – a new concept for service delivery centred solely on the citizen, where all relevant municipal services together with external partners – the Investment Team – invest jointly in a person’s welfare. The lab adopts an investment mind-set and treats citizens as co-investors.



A separate initiative by the UK  Department for Work and Pensions (DPW), the  Policy Simulation Model aims to model the effects of policy changes on poverty across Great Britain. The DPW website describes the applications and limitations of the Policy Simulation Model.

“The advantages of using simulation as a decision-making support tool are threefold. The computing power of the model allows for a more efficient breakdown of forecasts and an increased ability to observe impact of decisions over the whole benefits system. The model also enables its users to test different combinations of policies, conduct robust scenario analyses, and understand which choices might be more efficient. Finally, decisions related to a change in the benefits system are likely to have a huge impact on the most vulnerable groups across the system, and the opportunity to experiment with more sensitive policies in a ‘safe’ environment is crucial.

However, the forecasts delivered by the Policy Simulation Model will never be identical to a policy implementation; firstly, because there will always be unexpected and therefore un-modelled events, and secondly, because the model has to make certain assumptions that may not stand up in the real world. But models such as the Policy Simulation Model are important for teaching policymakers both the importance of experimenting, and of understanding how one change in a complex system can have knock-on effects in many other places in that system.”


The UK DPW’s Policy Simulation Model is one of a number of  Nesta Innovation Policy initiatives. Nesta is a UK charity but works globally, and always in partnership, as a  global innovation foundation.

Another view on the need to model policy changes comes in a February 5, 2018 Queensland University of Technology article in The Conversation, The benefits of job automation are not likely to be shared equally. The authors note that Now we are starting to see the effect of automation everywhere and especially in productivity and economic growth statistics. It’s expected that automation will make a A$2.2 trillion boost to productivity in Australia between 2015 and 2030. But whether productivity gains will be redistributed equally, remains highly questionable.


Looking globally, the authors conclude that “In the immediate future, there is no evidence to suggest that economic surplus from automation will be used to fund higher wages.

Workers may see some reward if their skills are valuable, rare and difficult to codify and automate. This value of being in high demand may be the incentive for workers to reskill or to look at how they organise to negotiate their share of the rewards.


Tags: Embracing Innovation in Government: Global Trends 2018, OPEC website Blog, UK  Department for Work and Pensions, Policy Simulation Model, Nesta Innovation Policy, The Conversation, Queensland University of Technology

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