Innovation is important for bringing about improvements in quality and efficiency of public services and for responding to changing social and economic conditions. In particular, tightening public finances and pressure on financial resources increase the need for government to seize innovative ideas that can lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness, and to develop them through to implementation. The NAO report Innovation across central government in 2009 highlighted ways in which Government could become more innovative.
Early action has the potential to improve outcomes and value for money, but evidence of its impact and cost-effectiveness is currently patchy.
“Despite the large sums of money being invested in encouraging innovation, central government isn’t making the most of the opportunities to improve the delivery of public services. Innovation within service delivery is vital and government must be sure that it encourages staff to contribute, listens to the people who use its services and measures what it is getting for the investment made.”
This special Innovation edition of NAO Focus highlights the findings from a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, “Achieving innovation in central government organisations” (NAO, 2006), which was carried out by the London School of Economics Public Policy Group.
“Much work has been done to drive forward operational innovations within the civil service. But harnessing a new culture isn’t easy. We have found many examples of new and worthwhile changes but strong barriers to innovation remain.
Senior managers are providing leadership to change, but implementing structural changes will not be achieved by dropping initiatives from on high, but rather by creating a supportive environment where all staff are encouraged to make suggestions for change.”