Culture in government needs to change to drive IT innovation

Public sector spending cuts could create an opportunity to transform digital services, but the culture in government IT departments has to change, consultancy groups have warned.

Public sector spending cuts could create an opportunity to transform digital services, but the culture in government IT departments has to change, consultancy groups have warned.

Innovation will be the key to delivering public sector services, but the big challenge for many departments is creating the conditions that drive that change, said Stephen Welch, director of management consultancy Hay Group.

But the government's move to digitise its services should accelerate the pace of innovation, agreed Jonathan Akwue, director at consultancy Transform.

"The attitude used to be that public services were found all in one place. Now the shift needs to be providing public sector services where you are," said Akwue. "Every government department is currently looking at its digital maturity," he added.

In a report, the Hay Group outlined five blocks to effective innovation in the public sector:

Compartmentalisation. This is when staff focus on their own area and lose sight of the opportunities that can come from looking at the big picture.

Taking on too much. Organisations often come up with big, expensive innovation - such as the total reform of the welfare system - instead of looking at smaller ways to tackle internal processes, which can be more effective.

Vested interests, where staff are often afraid to take risks in case it compromises their job performance.

Being unrealistic about new ideas.

Not looking at other sectors to see how things can be done.

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