In order to provide more citizen-centred public services, an innovation lab will be created at the joint ministry, officials will be taught practical skills to use service design tools, and companies will be included in solving societal problems – all this at the suggestion of the public sector and social innovation task force.
The government was given an overview of the work of the public sector and social innovation task force, which had been working under the Government Office since March 2016. Its task was to reach suggestions to increase innovation capability in the public sector and, on a broader scale, the society’s readiness for social innovation in order to provide better public services and create better policies.
According to Henry Kattago, Strategy Director of the Government Office, the Estonian state has been quite innovative, and with its e-government solutions and innovative approach often serves as an example for other countries as well as the private sector. "However, this is not always like this: the need for change is evident in a number of more traditional policy areas, where we set the same goals from year to year, without being able to achieve them, but still don’t change the course of activities," Kattago said. "We need to pay more attention to identifying the causes of the problem, the service users' perspective, and cooperation."
The task force deems it necessary for promoting innovation culture to create a constantly working team who can help find innovative solutions in difficult area-wide issues that affect several institutions as well as guide and counsel officials in creating user-centred public services.
According to the task force, innovation capability must be systematically developed and assessed when hiring top- and middle-level managers and in work results.
The task force also believes that in order to promote social innovation and include the potential of Estonian residents in the provision of public services, it is necessary to actively contribute to the development of social entrepreneurship and provide them with access to business support measures and develop a financial instrument for business loans.
According to Maarjo Mändmaa, the head of the task force, the implementation of these suggestions would amplify good innovation practice in the public sector. “It is necessary to involve more of civil society in the management of the state and in the provision of public services. It may be a time-consuming and sometimes bothersome process, but jointly worded problems and clever solutions will ultimately help develop a more caring and cooperative society,” Mändmaa said. “The officials have the will to work in an innovative way and engage themselves in pilot projects but today, they lack the necessary skills and knowledge, and sometimes also inspirational leaders,” he added.
The task force included representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the Interior, and their areas of government. The Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organisations, the Estonian Service Industry Association, the Estonian Social Enterprise Network, the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance at Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn University of Technology’s Innovation and Business Centre Mektory, the Estonian Design Centre, and entrepreneurs operating in the field participated in the work of the task force as representatives of the private sector and non-governmental organisations.
The government gave the Government Office the assignment to create task forces in 2011. Task forces are created for areas related to several ministries where cooperation across domains is required. The Government Office has previously had task forces for reconciling people’s skills and the changes on the labour market, coordinating policies for preventing injuries and injury-related deaths, and preparing a national strategy for e-health. In December 2015, the population protection task force and the burden of care reduction task force were created by the Government Office; in 2016, a task force for funding and organising research was created.
Henry Kattago, Strategy Director of the Government Office, +372 693 5629, henry.kattago[at]riigikantselei[dot]ee
Maarjo Mändmaa, head of the task force, +372 50 74 696, maarjo.mandmaa[at]gmail[dot]com