• News
  • August 22, 2018
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Weekly briefing: Teaching government to take risks; public service stereotypes

Our rundown of what's working in global policy

Top Stories

Government can open up trillions for women by reforming procurement. Many women-run businesses don’t have the experience or resources to apply for big contracts. Training opportunities and outreach can give them that opportunity — at little to no cost to government.

How to teach government to take risks: Four tips from Boston’s innovation lab. The Office of New Urban Mechanics shares its top lessons for innovators, from hiring a diverse team to earning civil servants’ trust at all costs — even if it means taking the blame for failure.

In charts: Deportation policy is leaving hundreds of thousands in limbo. Most governments are unable to remove many of the migrants they’ve decided should go, leaving people destitute and vulnerable. We take a look at the scale of the fast-growing deportation gap.

No managers, no bureaucracy: How the Netherlands improved care for less. It cut administration jobs and gave power to self-managing teams of nurses, who foster close relationships with their patients. Despite its success in Holland, other countries are having trouble scaling the model.

The violence against children reading list: 7 essential reports. Growing interest in the field has made for a dizzying landscape of research to grapple with. We’ve narrowed it down to the must-reads, from a list of evidence-based solutions to research that makes the economic case for intervention.

Top Writing From Our Members

These are the top three misconceptions that stop people from joining the public service. Civil servants are often portrayed as paper pushers who work in archaic systems with no job flexibility. These and other stereotypes are holding people back from fulfilling careers in government.
(Amanda Bernardo, Analyst at the treasury board secretariat, Canada)


Want to help us accelerate the transformation of government? We’re looking for brilliant, mission-driven people to join our engineering, partnerships and community teams. Work with us.

Governance and Citizen Engagement

Want young people to vote? Make them sign a pledge. US researchers studied what happened when canvassers asked people to sign a promise to make it to the polls. Turnout increased by 5.6 points among people who had never voted before.

New Zealand banned the sale of homes to foreign buyers. In the last four years, house prices in popular areas have soared by over 75%. An Economist report found that New Zealand has the most unaffordable housing market in the world.
(The Guardian)

The number of homeless people in Japan fell to its lowest number in 15 years. Improved support measures, including counselling, and greater coordination between local and national governments helped reduce the number of rough sleepers to 4,977.
(The Japan Times)

Safety and Justice

Prisons are using virtual reality to prepare long-term inmates for real life. In Pennsylvania and Colorado, prisoners simulate doing laundry, cooking a hotdog in a microwave and walking down a busy street. VR can help them overcome PTSD, anxiety and phobias.
(The Marshall Project)


“You have to create the cultural context for innovation work in government — which means building risk tolerance among public servants” —Nigel Jacob, co-founder of the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics

Evolving Cities

Paris wants to help residents cool down by installing green space in all schoolyards. The city has a severe shortage of public parks and gardens, but officials worry that opening playgrounds to the public after school hours could leave children vulnerable to terrorism.
(The Guardian)

Gender Equality

There’s less corruption in countries with more women in government. The authors of the 125-country study believe that female policymakers are better at rooting out corruption because they choose policies more closely related to the welfare of citizens.
(Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organisation)

Health and Ageing

New York and Virginia became the first states to mandate mental health education. In New York, the new curriculum will be taught to students of all ages. Suicide is the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in the US.

And finally

Parisians hate the city’s new eco-friendly urinals. The bulky red funnels were installed to discourage public urination, but their placement near some of the city’s historic monuments has drawn ire from residents. “We’re told to accept this, but it’s absolutely unacceptable,” said one.

Do you know of groundbreaking work in government that we should be writing about? Please send any pointers to ideas@apolitical.co.

(Picture credit: Flickr/Sue Kellerman)


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