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  • January 16, 2019
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Weekly Briefing: The weirdest government stories of 2018; 8 myths about public sector innovation debunked

Our rundown of what's working in global policy

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These are the 26 weirdest government stories of 2018. Did you hear about the cybersecurity minister who has never touched a computer? What about the government website that will teach you how to roll a joint? These are the most outlandish bits of public service news we read last year.

Eight myths about public sector innovation — debunked. ‘Government isn’t innovative.’ ‘Civil servants don’t like change.’ ‘The public sector just reinvents the wheel.’ Here, Denmark’s innovation agency tackles the stereotypes that stymie experimentation in government.
(Ole Bech Lykkebo, Denmark’s National Centre for Public Sector Innovation)

Toxic air kills seven million of us every year. These five policies could save lives. From mapping air pollution with crowdsourced data to designing buildings that eat smog and making all public transit free, these governments are at the forefront of climate policy innovation.

Here’s how – and why — you should use your own power to improve workplace gender equality. Research shows that gender-balanced organisations make better decisions and produce better results. From procurement to pensions and savings, here are concrete steps you can take to bolster equality in your organisation.
(Jo Andrews, Equileap)


Have you worked on an open government innovation? The OECD is looking for examples of policies and practices that promote transparency, accountability and participation to feature in upcoming research.

Submit Yours

Evolving Cities

Dar es Salaam cut commutes by two hours a day with a new rapid transit system. As other African megacities build metros to contend with congestion, Tanzania’s de facto capital developed a gold-standard bus system for less than a tenth of the cost. It saves the average commuter 50 hours a month.
(The Guardian)

Safety and Justice

Singapore is giving prisoners tablets to read, take classes and chat with their families. Studies show that prisoners who maintain family contact have lower recidivism rates. After inmates were given tablets, 88% of their families sent more letters.

Illinois, New York and the UK have adopted the ‘Dutch reach’. People in the Netherlands have been using this method of getting out of cars — which involves using the hand farthest away from the door — to prevent cyclist injuries for 50 years. Now, it’ll be written into road safety manuals, driving tests and highway code manuals in the US and UK.

Energy, Environment and Economic Opportunity

Bangladesh is lending land to islanders who lose their homes to climate change. Villagers are taught to farm fish, rear animals and grow vegetables on their new land, lent to them on 10-year leases. Some 27 million Bangladeshis are expected to be displaced by rising sea levels by 2050.
(This Is Place)


“We don’t all have to reinvent the wheel by ourselves. Using the very best wheels other people have invented is fine” — Majken Præstbro, Denmark’s National Centre for Public Sector Innovation

Health and Ageing

In 2017, Dayton, Ohio had the highest overdose rate in the US — now, it’s down more than 50%. The city expanded healthcare, made needle exchanges available, ordered all police officers to carry an overdose-reversing drug and built a large network of support groups.
(The New York Times)

Governance and Citizen Engagement

By installing electronic barriers at train stations, the Netherlands cut fare evasion by 34%. Barring station access to anyone without a ticket also cut violence clashes between employees and ticket dodgers by 27%. But the policy reduces rough sleepers’ access to one of the few heated public spaces available to them.

And finally

Canadian air traffic controllers sent pizza to their US counterparts affected by the government shutdown. Since last week, more than 350 pies were sent to 49 Federal Aviation Administration units across the US, whose employees are currently working without pay.

(Picture credit: Evan Bench)


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