Why this matters

Here at Apolitical, we believe in the power of the team. Leaders might get the kudos, but teamwork is the lifeblood of government. Across the world, teams of public servants are smashing siloes, breaking down boundaries and getting the task done to improve the lives of citizens everywhere.

That’s why we’re proud to announce the award for Apolitical’s Public Service Team of the Year which will recognise a team that embodies our values by collaborating with others on an innovative project.

How to vote

These are our shortlisted teams selected from hundreds of nominations and voting is now open. The winning team will be announced on Wednesday the 9th of January.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are not already a member of Apolitical, you will be prompted to fill out a 30-second application form which will automatically register your vote.

Canada’s Free Agents

Canada’s Free Agents scheme — named for hockey players’ penchant for switching teams during off-season — lets public servants select work that matches their skills and interests. Since 2016, 60 Free Agents have worked on over 125 projects across more than 35 departments and agencies.


Taiwan’s Participation Officers Network

Participation Officers Network, Taiwan — founded in 2016 by digital minister Audrey Tang — meets monthly to hash out service design improvements and hold policy design workshops with citizens. Its aim is to “rethink the structure of how government works”.

User Centred Policy Design Team, UK Ministry of Justice

This 20-member team is quietly revolutionising the way the UK designs services for people in crisis. In addition to delivering cross-government trainings on user-centred design, the team has worked across departments to create new websites and tools that improve the lives of some of Britain’s most vulnerable citizens.

Grand Challenges Movement, Canada

Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact®. The bold ideas Grand Challenges Canada supports integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – known as Integrated Innovation®. One of the largest impact-first investors in Canada, and with a feminist investment approach, Grand Challenges Canada has supported a pipeline of over 1,000 innovations in 95 countries, funded by the Government of Canada and other partners.

GovTech, Singapore

GovTech Singapore is charged with transforming Singapore’s public sector into one that is both “digital to the core” and “serves with heart”. In addition to creating a GovTech Hive that connects multi-disciplinary public servants with 1,200 ICT professionals to deliver digital services, the team integrated 13 different cross-agency systems to build an app for parents with a new-born child.

San Francisco Office of Civic Innovation

San Francisco’s five-member team relies on cross-sector collaboration to improve quality of life in San Francisco. Its two signature programmes are Civic Bridge, which recruits private sector professionals to work alongside government employees on critical issues, and Startup in Residence, an on-premises technology incubator at City Hall. One of the office’s partnerships this year, around “smart” trash cans to help clean streets, led to an 80% decrease in overflowing cans and a 64% decrease in illegal dumping.

Argentina’s National Plan to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy in Adolescents (Plan ENIA)

Plan ENIA is the first comprehensive national policy initiative in Argentina aimed at reducing unintentional teenage pregnancy. It is intersectorial, interministerial, federally implemented and evidence-based, making it one-of-a-kind in Argentine public policy history. The effort required extensive coordination with the National Ministries of Social Development, external assistance from UN agencies, and ratification from top decision-makers including the country’s president.

Inclusive Economy Partnership, UK

The Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) is a UK cross-government initiative that brings government, civil society and businesses together to solve problems in three critical areas: financial inclusion and capability, transition to work for young people and mental health at work. In just one year, the partnership has engaged over 120 organisations, set up four projects and confirmed 100 partnerships.

Public Sector Centralised Budgeting Management Software Team, Ministry of Finance, Tanzania

The Government of Tanzania, led by a team in the the Ministry of Finance, collaborated with the private sector to simplify the budget process across all of the country’s 96 government ministries. The project handles $65 billion in government expenditure and has been replicated in three other African countries.

Young UN: Agents for Change

Young UN serves as a space to crowdsource ideas across the United Nations, a platform to pilot and drive innovation and experimentation, and a bottom-up mechanism to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Started in 2016 by a handful of young professionals at the UN, the network has grown to more than 860 members across more than 80 countries, representing 69 of the 79 UN Departments and offices.


Business.govt.nz is a small team that packages information from across the public and private sectors to make it easier for New Zealand’s 600,000 businesses to be productive and comply with the law. Business.govt.nz collaborates with 100+ to produce resources including an employment agreement builder, used to create 500,000 tailored employment agreements since 2016, and a new Family Violence policy builder tool. Use of business.govt.nz has increased 6x in 4 years, to 1.3 million minutes a month.

Gob.MX – Online Birth Certificate Team, Mexico

This Gob.MX team created Mexico’s first online birth certificate, which allows any Mexican citizen to obtain a certified copy of his or her birth certificate. The project owes its success to a cross-government collaboration between over 500 public servants from central and local government, the standardisation of birth certificate formats across state governments, and closer working with state authorities. Since mid-2017, the online certificates have been downloaded more than 3 million times.

Behavioural Insights Unit, New South Wales

The government of New South Wales’ behavioural insights unit, the first of its kind in Australia, works to apply behavioural science to government. Through experimentation, in house expertise and cross sectoral collaboration, the unit adapts government policies to better suit the way people actually behave. In 2018, the unit worked with education bodies to help persuade more teachers to accept jobs in remote locations, and to decrease Sydney’s public transport congestion by encouraging people to take up flexible work options.


Year of Young People Team, Scotland

This year, the Scottish Government Launched its Year of Young People, becoming the world’s first country to dedicate a year to celebrating its youth. Co-creation with children was at the heart of the program: the project team worked alongside these young people and bodies inside and outside of government to organise 42 events across the country.

Fintech Lithuania

Fintech Lithuania is a collaboration of regulators from Lithuania’s central bank, policymakers from the Ministry of Finance and the communications professionals of Invest Lithuania. It has worked to attract cutting-edge fintech firms to relocate to Lithuania. It has sought to make Lithuania the destination for innovative business through reforms which have created accessible start-up regulations and capital requirements.

Laboratorio de Gobierno, Chile

Laboratorio de Gobierno Chile is the Chilean government’s innovation lab. Initially set-up in 2015, it works across the civil service to tackle big problems through promoting experimentation, iteration and human-centred design. By collaborating with citizens and the private sector, “LabGob” tries to come up with innovative new ideas to solve difficult, resistant problems, and train civil servants to try out and test their own projects.

Centro de Innovación Pública Digital, Colombia

Colombia’s centre for digital public innovation is team working to enable ICT-based innovation in the public sector. Part of the country’s Ministry of Information Technology and Communications, the team helps departments across both central and local government to solve complex problems and deliver new, innovative services. They develop prototypes for new ideas, help public servants to collaborate across boundaries and improve their digital capabilities.

Profil Public, France

Profil Public is a new online resource to persuade young talent to work in public service in France. Working to attract more young people from the private sector to help transform the public sector, the team has pulled together organisations to help brand civic jobs as exciting and attractive for young professionals, linking people with skills to the causes they care about.

Bihar Administrative Reforms Mission Society, India

Bihar Prashasnik Sudhar Mission is the Indian state of Bihar’s government transformation team. Tasked with reforming the internal processes of Bihar’s government and facilitating collaboration across its 44 departments, the team set up a grievance redressal system, through which the public can list complaints. The team won two national awards for innovation in governance.

The Collaborative Team working on the National Database of Contractors, Nigeria

In 2018, a cross departmental team integrated Nigeria’s data from across the Nigerian public service departments into the National Database of Contractors. A valuable resource for public accountability and anti-corruption, the Bureau of Public Procurement established the database in 2007. The team successfully integrated the systems of six different federal government agencies, which help government and the public to verify public procurements. With the integration, millions of records have been centralised and contractor claims can be easily verified with a click of a button.