International research has indicated it is feasible to develop a Public Sector Innovation Index. It suggests development of an index for the Australian public sector would be best served by consideration of the following:
The Index should comprise of a summary index and several diagnostic indicators to measure innovation performance and capacity of individual agencies, both overall and in other key areas such as: innovation performance; implementation; openness; innovative culture; demand and user involvement; innovation procurement; and ICT and innovation.
A conceptual and methodological framework should be developed as a basis for the development and implementation of the Index. It will focus on defining the survey methodology and the methodology to construct the Index.
An Australian Public Sector Innovation Survey should be designed to collect new data on public sector innovation. The survey instruments (questionnaire and guidelines) should be developed in line with recent international efforts in the UK, Nordic countries, EU and OECD. Their survey instruments can be adjusted for measuring public sector innovation in Australia.
Using the survey results and data from other existing sources will allow assessment of innovation in individual agencies and benchmarking on a global scale.
Aggregative results from the survey may provide an analysis of innovation performance and capacity of public agencies, including by key area, by level of government, and by sector of services.
An Innovation Reporting Card or Current Performance Profile could be provided to individual agencies, providing an analysis of the agency’s scores compared to the average and top performers in the relevant comparable group, and across years (once data is available), as well as its strengths and weaknesses in selected areas. Agencies could use it as a diagnostic and management tool for innovation.
An International Comparison Report could provide an international comparison of Australia’s performance compared to European Union member countries on public sector innovation.
The top management of the organisation seems to be the most appropriate addressee for any questionnaire. Sending the questionnaire to the top of the administrative hierarchy will mean that it can then be sent down to the right person or unit.
These key findings, as well as the more detailed findings from the international efforts outlined in the body of this paper, will inform the ASPII Project at the Australian government Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR).
The ASPII project
These ideas provide the basis for our project proposal to develop an Australian Public Sector Innovation Sector. The index, once developed, can:
Provide a self-assessment tool for public sector agencies to assess their innovation performance and capacity;
Make comparisons among public agencies and agency groups by level of government, and by sector of services;
Benchmark public sector innovation in Australia against other countries; and
Improve awareness, understanding and promotion of innovation in public agencies.
The Report could be similar in nature to the APSC’s State of the Service Report.
The index will provide all the data and metrics necessary to measure and report annually on innovation performance by public agencies and Australia’s progress against the national innovation priority for public sector innovation.
Further information on the APSII project is available in Working towards a measurement framework for public sector innovation in Australia: A draft discussion paper for the Australian Public Sector Innovation Indicators Project (2011).11
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