Why this matters

For the second year in a row, Apolitical will be celebrating innovative, groundbreaking teams that get the job done through our Public Service Team of the Year Awards. Though their work often goes unnoticed, we know that teams are at the heart of every effective government and are working hard every day to make people’s lives better.

This award celebrates teams with a focus on innovative policy putting citizens’ needs at the heart of their work. We’re looking for teams that have trialled or implemented policy that can deliver citizen-centric innovation in the public sector and ultimately make people’s lives better.

How to Vote

Voting has now closed. Any votes cast after Sunday the 5th of January will not be counted. The winning team will be announced in late January.

How we selected the finalists

Our team received hundreds of nominations from teams all over the world. We then reviewed each nomination individually, and a panel of judges at Apolitical decided on a shortlist of teams for each category.

The User Centred Policy Design (UCPD) team of the Ministry of Justice, UK

Set up in 2016, the User Centred Policy Design (UCPD) team of the Ministry of Justice (UK) works with policymakers and operational teams to help them be more user focused, test ideas early, and make use of digital and design methods to solve complex problems for people in crisis. UCPD provides hands-on expertise and support, as well as training and tools for civil servants to shift the culture and mindset to one that is more open and instinctively thinks first about user needs when making decisions. They were the first Government Department in the UK to pioneer the approach of in-house policy design teams.

Housing Institute of the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Housing Institute of the City of Buenos Aires works to ensure equal opportunities and achieve a more integrated city in Buenos Aires. The Institute has designed an innovative way to make the city more inclusive and sustainable, while involving its most vulnerable populations in policy implementation, through its system of slum upgrading. They involve community stakeholders in ‘participatory roundtables’ so their voices can be heard throughout the process. This allows the communities most affected by the policies of slum upgrading to have a say in decisions that impact their lives and ensures that the slum upgrading process is effective and sustainable.

Equipo de Innovación Pública, Colombia

The Equipo de Innovación Pública (EiP) is the innovation team within the Colombian National Department of Planning (DNP), a ministry-level agency that supports policy development and evaluation across the entire government of Colombia. The EiP combines capabilities to mobilise public innovation in Colombia, in cooperation with local, regional and international actors, working as an enabler and integrator for the Colombian public innovation ecosystem. To achieve this, the EiP embraces and promotes experimental approaches to optimise transparency and accountability, increase citizen participation, and probe the use of new technologies.

PolicyLab, UK

Policy Lab brings new policy tools and techniques across the UK Government. They are a creative space where policy teams can develop the knowledge and skills to develop policy in a more open, data-driven, digital and people-centred way. Over the last year, they have partnered with dozens of teams across UK government policy making, including by using film ethnography to improve empathy across the system, partnering with HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) to use speculative design to think through fictional futures of the justice system and most recently working on the National Data Strategy – blending design and participatory methods to co-create, with citizens, a vision for the future of data.

Family Safety Hub, Government of the Australian Capital Territory

The Family Safety Hub is a new approach to improving domestic and family violence services in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory). It is a “co-designed innovation hub that uses human-centred design practices to create and test solutions for those affected by domestic and family violence,” involving organisations from multiple sectors. They have piloted providing free and confidential legal advice in locations where parents go for health or family appointments and may already have established relationships.

Innovation Lab (iLab), Access to Information (a2i), Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Bangladesh

The Innovation Lab (iLab) of Access to Information (a2i) a2i is a flagship government innovation project run by the Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh, with support from UNDP and USAID. It supports citizen ideas that have wide societal benefits, connecting social innovators to the skills and finances to make them a reality. One example is EPIC, the Emergency Portable Infant Incubator. It was developed to address infant mortality in rural Bangladesh, where more than one in ten of 3 million infants are born prematurely each year, and almost one in hundred under five die directly due to preterm issues.

Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana, PetaBencana.id, Indonesia

As weather patterns become increasingly unpredictable, cities in Indonesia must more frequently face the challenges of extreme weather. PetaBencana.id provides free, current disaster information, helping all residents stay safe. The initiative is especially intended to help underfunded communities, individuals with limited data usage, and agencies with limited technical means. PetaBencana.id currently supports a coverage area with more than 50 million residents in Jabodetabek, Surabaya, and Bandung.

South African Social Security Agency, WhatsApp Fault Reporting Line

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in KwaZulu-Natal launched a WhatsApp service in July 2019 to deal with social grant queries. Users will be able to use Whatsapp to ask questions about payments, or to request home visits if they are too sick or frail to visit the Social Security Agency in person. The initiative will also help those who live far from Sassa offices, especially in cases of reporting fraud.

Strategic Innovation Fund Team, Canada

The Strategic Innovation Fund spurs innovation in Canada by funding large projects and creating high-impact collaborations and partnerships that address government priorities. The fund team has collaborated with hundreds of federal officials across Canada and leveraged investment of more than $40 billion from the private sector. The team has invested in over 60 projects and created or maintained over 65,000 jobs.

Beer Sheva i-team, Israel

The Beer Sheva i-team from Israel is part of a network of 33 teams supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The team is working to generate innovation by tackling their city’s pressing problems, using a unique Human Centered Design methodology. Partnering with Golden Expertise, they are connecting experienced retired experts with owners of small businesses, helping them build a strategic business plan. They are working to offer a solution for two of the city’s significant challenges: bolstering and cultivating small businesses and providing a response for senior citizens’ challenges, while leading a social change in the perception of Beer Sheva’s senior citizens’ ability to influence and strengthen the city’s economy.