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“This is a century of ideas, this is a time when Australia’s growth, when our living standards, when our incomes will be determined by the human capital, the intellectual capital that all of us have. By unleashing our innovation, unleashing our imagination, being prepared to embrace change, we usher in the ideas boom.” - Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, 7 December 2015

A challenge has been set for the public service: that government will lead by example by embracing innovation and agility in the way we do business.

The National Innovation and Science Agenda spells out what is involved in this challenge:

“We are committed to changing the way government delivers to Australians by trialling good ideas, sharing information, looking for innovative suppliers and changing our policies when they are not working.”

This is an exciting challenge – we in the Australian Public Service (APS) have the opportunity to ask ourselves “how might we do things differently?” What should stay the same, what should change? What can we do best ourselves, and where are we better off helping others deliver by letting them do what they do best?

It is also a challenge that dares us to show what we are capable of. For while it is true that the public service is not often recognised for its innovation, public servants have always innovated. As others have argued, much of the work of the public service is, and has always been, about introducing and driving change, and introducing or encouraging innovation by others.

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