News & Views

We collate and provide links to news and views from around the world to help share ideas and thinking for policy makers, procurers, providers, and any other organisations working in the public sector sphere to deliver better public services.

Blog: Fighting Pollution with Innovation
91% of the world’s population live in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most polluted places in the world are the major cities, where poor urban planning has led to urban sprawl and over-reliance on private rather than public transport. So where can governments and city-planners turn to solve these problems? All over the world they are already looking to private sector organisations to enhance public services, notably through various smart-city initiatives.
10th July 2019
Story: How Norway Turns Criminals into Good Neighbours
In the early 1990s, the ethos of the Norwegian Correctional Service underwent a rigorous series of reforms to focus less on "revenge" and much more on rehabilitation. (source:
10th July 2019
News: Canada’s first open roads autonomous shuttle begins operations in Montreal
The city and Transdev Canada worked together on several test projects, including one within Montreal’s Olympic Park and Stadium, prior to the start of this service. The current project, which operates using two EasyMile EZ10 autonomous shuttles, will serve for planning purposes and help determine the technology’s potential for sustainable public transit in Montreal. (
3rd July 2019
New Thinking: Five steps for building the world’s most innovative government
Earlier this month, the government published its Technology Innovation Strategy. This announcement represents the government’s strongest ever commitment to embracing innovation and cutting-edge technology. (source:
3rd July 2019
News: Smart cities spending to reach $189 billion in 2023
The latest IDC smart cities spending guide highlights priority areas as resilient energy and infrastructure projects followed by data-driven public safety and intelligent transportation. (source:
3rd July 2019
News: New Prisons Minister's speech on modernising criminal justice
Robert Buckland QC spoke at the Modernising Criminal Justice Conference in his first keynote speech as the Minister of State for Justice. (source:
26th June 2019
New Thinking: Healthcare technology will change lives, eventually
There is some way to go before game-changing technologies are deployed to revolutionise patient care and the working practices of healthcare professionals, but there are encouraging signs of progress. (source:
21st June 2019
News: Darwin switches on Australia's largest smart city
The $10 million project includes 912 LED lights, installation of 138 CCTV cameras and, the addition of 39 new hotspots to extend the city’s free wi-fi. (source:
19th June 2019
New Thinking: What does the next generation of digital public services need to deliver?
To help bridge the inequalities in our society, we must further look to deploy technologies to support citizens to make informed choices and access the various public services and benefits to which they may be entitled.(source:
18th June 2019
New Thinking: How Stockholm is leading the way for Smart Cities
Stockholm is one of the world’s most connected cities, and a beacon for innovators and international talent. We are also a forward-looking city, leading the environmental and smart city agendas. By 2040, we have the ambition to be both carbon neutral and the smartest city in the world. (Source:
14th June 2019
News: UK civil servants to learn about innovation from digital companies
Government Technology Innovation Strategy has set out plans to boost the number of civil servants on secondments to digital companies to “learn from their innovative culture”.(Source:
14th June 2019
News: Australia joins others in signing up to ethical AI guidelines
Last week, Australia and 42 other countries signed up to the OECD's policy guidelines for the ethical development and use of AI. Though very broad, these guidelines seek to form a shared baseline from which to address the very real threat AI may pose to human rights and our way of life if left unchecked. This baseline can, of course, be further developed by other countries, Australia being one example, but by implementing these shared values we can hopefully begin to form a set of rules that can be accepted globally (source:
29th May 2019
New Thinking: User-centred policy design; when is the right time?
Designing policy based around the voices of citizens is, understandably, not always possible or appropriate. There are many instances, however, when these voices can contribute a vast amount and can make or break a policy's outcome. Here, Steve Moilanen explores the idea of "user-centred" design and suggests three situations in which using the process can be most effective (source:
29th May 2019
News: Vancouver's aim to be 100% renewable by 2050
The city of Vancouver has announced its desire to derive 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Its ambitious plans include targeting new builds, altering transportation infrastructure and simplifying access to electronic vehicles. Leading the way in urban energy transformation, other cities may look to Vancouver to find their own solutions to emissions and energy inefficiency (source:
29th May 2019
News: Dubai opens new technological research facility
Joining the four other Centres for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) around the globe, Dubai's new facility aims to support the transformation of the region into an innovative technological hub and paves the way for the city to become truly 'smart' (source:
29th May 2019
New Thinking: The Middle East's burgeoning technological revolution
A growing youth population and new government initiatives in some Middle Eastern countries place the region on the cusp of a technological revolution; however, there are challenges to be overcome. Here, Khalid Al Rumaihi (Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board) discusses how funding for start ups and relaxing of data sovereignty rules can allow growth in this already fertile ground (source:
29th May 2019
Report: Growing focus on social value in UK local authorities
A new report, based on research by Social Enterprise UK, reveals that local councils in the UK are increasingly making spending decisions based not only on cost but also on economic, social and environmental impacts. Data from central government was sadly not significant enough to be analysed but the report provides several recommendations to further improve uptake of social value initiatives (source:
29th May 2019
Blog: Speech by Rupert Soames, Chief Executive of Serco, to the IACCM
Serco CEO speaks to the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management on the pains of doing business with governments with regard to formality versus speed, procurement challenges inherent to the political system, lack of flexibility and the perils of monopoly markets (source: Rupert Soames, CEO Serco plc)
17th May 2019
New Thinking: How to keep the robots from taking jobs
Recent advances in technology have left millions at risk of unemployment through being replaced by machines. Politico asks what tools are available to governments and other organisations to help them respond to this potential crisis (source:
14th May 2019
Policy News: France to make public procurement of food more sustainable
Didier Guillaume, French minister of Agriculture and Food, has established the National Council for Collective Catering, with a focus on organic, sustainable and nutritional food. At a time when problems caused by unhealthy eating and unsustainable food production are high on governmental agendas, it will be interesting to see if this initiative is picked up internationally (source:
10th May 2019
New Thinking: Crowdsourced data to help air pollution, traffic congestion and infrastructure use
Consumers give away a vast amount of data for free to the apps they use. has thought to harness this to improve air pollution, traffic congestion and other city infrastructure. Data collection is of course voluntary and can be crowdsourced on a very local level to make travel more efficient and the air cleaner. They have received EU funding and are looking to expand and implement new technologies (source:
9th May 2019
Policy News: Australian Government publishes Digital Transformation Strategy
The Australian Government has published a Digital Transformation Strategy aimed at allowing citizens digital access to all government services by 2025. The aim is not only to provide Australian citizens with one easy login to all services but also to encourage more interaction at both national and local levels. Will this be more successful than previous ambitions? Only time will tell. (source:
8th May 2019
New Thinking: Developing a Smart City playbook
The concept of 'smart cities' is becoming ever more widespread, with governments and private organisations using the latest technology to manage urban infrastructure more effectively. A coalition of these organisations has been set up to bring to measure global smart city performance and return on investment, allowing for the creation of a playbook for what an effective smart city looks like; available for free in November 2019 (source:
7th May 2019
Policy News: Canadian Public Services and Procurement unveils modernisation plans
As Public Services and Procurement Canada and Shared Services Canada handle more than 75% of the Canadian government's yearly $22bn worth of purchases, their procurement processes need to be modern, responsive and as simple as possible. The new 'Better Buying' initiatives seek to bring these services fully up to date while also increasing competition, innovation and sustainability. Industry seems to have had a valuable input and early outcomes of several programmes look very positive (source:
6th May 2019
News: UK Space Agency makes archive satellite images available
The UK Space Agency has made its archive of satellite data available to all those working in, or connected to, the public sector. Previously used to study such things as the thickness of polar ice, ocean salinity, and cloud properties, the agency hopes its detailed maps will enable SMEs and others to research and innovate to help the UK public sector overcome the challenges it faces (source:
2nd May 2019
Serco launches start-up incubator to solve problems in prisons
If you are a start-up that is interested in solving key problems across the UK prison estate around themes such as welfare & rehabilitation, behavioural analytics, IoT & asset management, or creating a dynamic workforce then APPLY for funding & strategic development here! (source:
30th April 2019
What does a renaissance in public service delivery look like, asks Reform..
The UK govt, if it can un-distract itself from Brexit, is in a unique place to reform the way public services are bought and delivered by the private and third sectors (particularly given a third of public expenditure is spent with them says Reform). Properly considering whether to 'make or buy' services, ensure Social Value outcomes are embedded in service design, up-skilling contracting authorities with technical expertise, and ensuring clarity over the lifetime of a contract - key pillars for good public service (source:
18th April 2019
How big should government really be?
How much money is government wasting on public sector spend? What is the optimal % of GDP that governments can afford to get away with to deliver effective public service? How much tax are we as citizens overspending in reality? This insightful paper lays out some ideas around optimal govt size as a % of GDP (30%) across education, health, administration & posits the key question: 'Is it worth spending 10% of GDP more for limited gain given that it needs to be financed through higher taxes or spending elsewhere?' (source:
3rd April 2019
What it takes to deliver good public service according to New Zealand's State Service Commissioner
Peter Hughes says putting the citizen at the fore, humility, & being driven by a higher purpose is what it takes (plus managerial efficiency & tight commercial acumen). Collaboration between agencies to solve complex problems is also key & this will require greater flexibility in data sharing, budget setting, & staffing. Attitudinal change & a focused public service esprit de corps is what it takes (source:
27th March 2019
World Health Organisation's 2016 Review of Integrated Care is still relevant & a useful source for those mapping the landscape with a view to developing solutions
As populations age, putting stress on healthcare services, the onus for developing scalable integrated models of health & care that enable the elderly to live more independently for longer increases. This WHO review sets out key definitions & possible models that we need to build on further (source:
22nd March 2019
UK government seeks consultation on Social Value in public procurement
UK govt goes to suppliers, public bodies & others involved in procurement to consult on initial Social Value framework through which govt depts will evaluate bids on themes around; diverse supply chains, skills & employment, inclusion & wellbeing, environmental sustainability, & safe supply chains (source:
12th March 2019
The OECD's Observatory of Innovation in the Public Sector
Amongst many things, this provides a fascinating global map of innovation in the public sector: SociaLab in Holland looks at ageing populations; Waterdeep in Portugal optimises water consumption; an Open Data Portal in Spain allows citizen analysis of public sector data; E-residency for location-independent businesses in Estonia builds online trust; a Flood Warning system in Finland builds citizen resilience (source:
5th March 2019
UK Government releases 'The Outsourcing Playbook'
Carillion's collapse provoked a (high-time) outsourcing renaissance to redefine the relationship between supplier & buyer of public services. This 'Playbook' is the charter that sets out key new policies for commercial, finance, & delivery professionals across central govt depts that aim to ensure; projects are comfortable from the start for both sides; robust procurement strategies exist; healthy markets are engaged with; contracts are made with suppliers who want to work with govt; and safety mechanisms are in place for the event of failure (source:
21st February 2019
Report: Institute for Fiscal Studies publishes outlook for UK Government's 2019 Spending Review
Key findings: Departmental spending for 2018-19 is +£40 billion lower than in 2009-10, roughly at 2006-7 levels; DFID experience an increase of 25%, whilst the MOJ and DEFRA a reduction of 40%; borrowing is back to pre financial crisis levels; the NHS will recieve £20.5bn increase by 2023; disorderly Brexit does not necessarily mean a decrease in govt spending, but will mean slower economic growth (source:
20th February 2019
Policy: The UK Justice Secretary gives speech on providing a 'smarter' justice system and a shift towards investing in probation services
The Rt Hon David Gauke questioned the effectiveness of 6 month sentencing over using more modern tech-based interventions in the community (source:
18th February 2019
Blog: Bringing local agencies to work together for shared outcomes
How local agencies can work together to reduce harm and vulnerability in communities
7th February 2019
Innovation: The German Public Value Atlas develops a framework for measuring Social Value
Can other governments look to German private sector best practice for how the public purchase of services could measure Social Value? (source:
1st February 2019
Public Policy: The UK govt announced in November 2018 it will now measure & evaluate Social Value in its procurement of public services, yet Social Value remains undefined
It is one thing to demonstrate Social Value qualitatively. But how should it get measured in competitive environments? Should governments look to develop metrics for Social Value so they can rank the competition? (source:
1st February 2019
Opinion: Food for thought from Arup on what Social Value could mean
In light of the government’s move to evaluate ‘Social Value’ in procurement of public services, the public sector can look to businesses that literally build societal and economic benefit through design (source:
1st February 2019
News: Rupert Soames OBE gives speech introducing the Serco Institute
The purpose of the Institute is to be a forum where academics, civil servants, practitioners, companies small, medium and large, including our competitors, both in this country and abroad, can contribute their ideas.
10th January 2019
News: Dubai breaks boundaries with truly joined up service delivery expos
City Makers in Dubai conduct hackathon style innovation sessions by bringing together multi-agency professionals to work on shared goals (source:
9th January 2019
Report: Institute for Government on the UK's outsourcing landscape in 2018
Institute for Government's first in a series of reports on the outsourcing landscape in the UK. Their key facts: £284bn spent 2017/18 by government on procurement of services from external suppliers (1/3 public expenditure); 28% (& increasing) of central government budget (£178bn); 47% (& declining) of local government (£98bn); overall this is not as much as other OECD countries; but poor quality of procurement data restricts analysis (source:
13th December 2018
Serco Institute and Reform public service debate in Westminster
Watch panel 2 of our event 'Alternative models of service delivery' with speakers Sir Bernard Jenkin MP, Professor Jo Pritchard, Rob Pollock and Rob Owen (source:
12th December 2018
Serco Institute and Reform public service debate in Westminster
Watch panel 1 of our event 'Data and digital rich frontline public service' with speakers George Freeman MP, Nico Henke, Devika Wood and Lisa Barrett (source:
12th December 2018
Rethinking the market for complex public services
(source: Gary L Sturgess)
10th December 2018
US Social Security Act sets up Innovation Center for Medicare & Medicaid programs
Testing models that improve care, lower costs, and performance based payment systems (source:
10th December 2018
US Dept for Homeland Security sets up Procurement Innovation Lab
PIL provides safe space to test new ideas to improve efficiency & effectiveness of procurement (source:
10th December 2018
Dubai Future Foundation on most impactful technologies affecting seven sectors in the UAE
Foresight on tech, water, space, education, health, energy, and how UAE govts support innovation to build cities of the future (source:
10th December 2018
When does government outsourcing work?
10th December 2018
Bettering procurement
Rupert Soames (source:
7th December 2018
Innovation News: Algorithms distort justice in the US
Algorithms are being used in the state and federal criminal justice system in the US to set bail & determine sentences more efficiently, but they are at danger of distorting justice (source:
4th December 2018
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Please note that all third-party content provided via hyperlinks in this section does not represent the opinion or view of Serco Group plc or any of its group companies (‘Serco’) unless expressly attributed otherwise. By linking to any sites in this section, you acknowledge and agree that Serco has no control over the content of these sites, including any opinions expressed and the content contained therein, and that Serco excludes all liability to you in this respect to the maximum extent permitted by law.
1st December 2018
Policy News: UK Govt Minister calls for AI in all departments
Margot James, UK Minister of State for Creative and Digital Industries speaks of bringing ‘the vanguard’ of AI into government Departments (source:
27th November 2018
Innovation News: Singapore govt looks to agile innovation methods
Singapore uses ‘Public Service Innovation Challenges’ and ‘Makeathons’ for government agency Directors to address & respond to key public sector priorities that cut across agency boundaries (source:
22nd November 2018
Innovation news: Canadian defence department looks to 'open innovation' and Challenge Prizes
Through setting specific Challenges, IDEaS aims to connect innovators with the government’s science and military members (source:
19th November 2018
Innovation News: U.S use of algorithms to deliver criminal justice is dangerous
World Economic Forum warns of increased use of AI in predicting crime in the US, stating that algorithms reinforce racial bias (source:
19th November 2018
Innovation news: Northern England cities lead way on smart city development
City of Hull in the UK, sprints ahead in building smart city data platform that allows tech innovators to plug in to local public services (source:
15th November 2018
News: UK govt backs centre to develop Public Service leaders
UK government proposes plan for new Centre for Public Services Leadership to focus on developing collaborative leadership skills that drive productivity and innovation across services. (source:
31st October 2018
Report: World Bank on lessons from developing world on improving public sector performance
Long report from World Bank giving global view on what drives & enables innovation in public sector performance across developing world (source:
1st October 2018
New thinking: Principles on how to better govern public services in the UK
Serco plc, sets out Four Principles to ensure the contractual relationships between commissioner and provider is governed better through Transparency, Orderly Exit, Security of Supply and Fairness
20th June 2018
Blog: Innovation in the public sector is challenging
Innovation in the B2C and B2B spheres has been prolific, whilst the environment of the public sector holds back innovation at scale - we need to trial and test change free from these restrictions. (source: Clementine Vandeleur, Serco Institute)
3rd December 2017
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