• News
  • August 7, 2019
  • 6 minutes
  • 0

Weekly Briefing: Open-source government; 100 places to learn

Our weekly rundown of global policy

Top Stories

Taiwan is cracking open the fortress of government for all to see. Digital minister Audrey Tang holds public office hours, makes all meetings open-source and allows employees to write their own job descriptions. The ‘radical transparency’ approach is boosting public servants’ drive and accountability. (Apolitical)

Data and digital: 100 places for public servants to learn for free. We’ve compiled the best courses, conferences and resources out there to help you get up to speed with data analysis, coding, AI, agile working and other skills that will be crucial to the future of government. (Apolitical)

Men win 99% of all government contracts. In no country in the world are women on the same economic footing as men. One way to redress that imbalance is by contracting from women-owned businesses, which make up 40% of small and medium-sized businesses but only win 1% of tenders. (Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre)

Bilbao, Spain was built on innovation. In the ‘80s, Bilbao was defined by economic, political and social crises. But the Basque city reinvented itself, shedding its industrial past to becoming a thriving cultural capital. Here’s how collaboration between government entities made that possible. (Linda Bilmes, Fernando Monge and Jorrit De Jong, Harvard Kennedy School)


Strategic thinking is the key to advancing your career in government. Learn how to identify obstacles, frame goals and get buy-in for your strategy in a free webinar with Adam Parr, lecturer at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, on September 5 at 3 pm BST. (Apolitical)


Have you worked on an interesting policy? Want to share your thoughts on a policymaking trend? Reach influencers in 170+ countries by contributing to Apolitical as an opinion writer. Submit Your Idea.

Governance and Citizen Engagement

Colombia will give citizenship to more than 24,000 children of Venezuelan refugees. It will prevent the children, born in Colombia, from being stateless, which would limit their access to education and healthcare. “To those who want to use xenophobia for political goals, we take the path of fraternity,” said the president. (The New York Times)

Poland wants to fight brain drain by scrapping income tax for young people. Since it joined the EU 15 years ago, Poland has lost 1.7 million people. To entice them to stay, the government will exempt Poles under the age of 26 who earn less than $22,547 a year – some two million people – from the 18% tax. (CNN)

Switzerland, Sweden and the US are the world’s most innovative economies. The Global Innovation Index ranked Switzerland in the top spot for the ninth year running. The country files more patents per capita than any other OECD country, boasts world-class research institutes and is a leader in robotics, crypto and AI. (The World Economic Forum)

Safety and Justice

First-time drug offenders in Ireland will be referred to the health service, not the courts. They’ll undergo a screening and speak with a doctor, instead of facing a possible criminal record. A health official called it the “biggest shift in our approach to drug use that Ireland has ever seen”. (Irish Times)


“Polarisation of the political landscape also makes collaboration across party lines hard to build…. for innovation to work in a multiparty, multilevel context, collaboration needs to be carefully designed and managed” – Linda Bilmes, Fernando Monge and Jorrit de Jong, Harvard Kennedy School & IE School of Global and Public Affairs

Technology Frontiers

“A strep test for tomatoes and tubers”: farmers are fighting blight with smartphones. Scientists in the US have found a way to identify diseased plants, which can wipe out entire crops, with technology that relies on subtle odours. It uses a simple test strip that plugs into a smartphone reader. (The New York Times)

Evolving Cities

Cities from Tokyo to Madrid are using design tricks to keep citizens cool. These include planting trees using data-driven heat mapping, painting streets and buildings with reflective coating that lowers temperatures, and using building materials that react to the weather. (Fast Company)

And finally

Muncie, Indiana residents are paying off parking tickets with animal shelter donations. After learning that the local shelter was running low on supplies, police asked violators to pay in pet food. Donations from residents – even those without fines – poured in, and now the shelter is running smoothly. (CNN)

(Picture credit: Unsplash)


Leave a Reply

to leave a comment.
Master the skills you need for the public service.

Discover inspiring resources, tools and policies.