Innovating Public Services

We need to accelerate innovation of public services. But how do we do that in a highly regulated procurement system, without risking the citizens’ trust as well as ensuring democracy and equality?

In a discussion panel devoted to the possibilities and limitations of bringing innovations into the system of public services, three experts shared their vision in a conversation facilitated by Openlab and moderated by Openlab’s innovation manager Sara Araya. In tune with the topic of the discussion, it was also translated online through Develop your city platform, where the viewers added comments to the discussion and asked questions.

The procurement department of the City of Stockholm is responsible for supplying different groups of citizens with a variety of items – everything from food for pre-schools to furniture for elderly homes. With such a large volume of purchases, can you imagine the scale of the ecological impact their choices may have? Procurement can in fact have significant impact in pushing the market onto a more sustainable path. However, considering the number of regulations and laws that this government sector is put into in order to ensure equality and democracy, as well as the time it takes to implement a change within a formal system, it becomes clear that bringing innovation into it is not that easyImplementing changes are often related to risks for private companies. For public services it can mean getting off a stable path and risking the citizens’ trust. What can be done in order to make sustainable solutions take lead in the public services and in procurement in particularImplementing changes are often related to risks for private companies. For public services it can mean getting off a stable path and risking the citizens’ trust. What can be done in order to make sustainable solutions take lead in the public services and in procurement in particular?



Implementing changes are often related to risks for private companies. For public services it can mean getting off a stable path and risking the citizens’ trust. What can be done in order to make sustainable solutions take lead in the public services and in procurement in particular?

First: within the procurement system there is a need for longer contracts than the current maximum of four years. This will give the suppliers more freedom in creating changes and confidence in a long-term perspective. 

Secondly: when developing innovative solutions it is crucial to address implementation. If you create innovations, try to imagine where they are going to fit early in the process. One helpful way to do that is to create a dialog between the innovators and the public institutions, in order to adjust the product or service to their demand. It can also be a good idea to ’’team up’’ with a company who is already a procurement supplier. 

On the other hand, innovations should also be put into the receiving organisation. While all of those solutions are being used, let’s try to develop ’’fast lanes’’ for innovations to alter public services!






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