New thinking needed to Reform our Public Sector: Foster

Date published: 09 July 2015

Finance Minister Arlene Foster, MLA told an international conference in London today that new thinking is needed to reform our public sector.

The Minister was speaking at the Labworks 2015 conference, organised by Nesta, an independent charity that works to increase innovation capacity in the UK. This fourth annual conference brings together a growing international network of innovation teams who work in an innovation laboratory, both inside and alongside government on society’s biggest challenges.

The Innovation Laboratory is a new methodology, which has been used internationally, to develop solutions to complex problems with the help of experts in a “hothouse” environment.

The Minister said: “New thinking is needed across government to reform our public sector and deliver better and more targeted services for those in greatest need. While the public sector is facing a sustained period of budgetary constraint and increased demand for public services we must continue the process of reform and improve services despite reducing budgets.

“Northern Ireland departments are already undertaking ambitious programmes of reform and the launch of our first public sector innovation lab in April 2014 will be an important tool in driving the reform agenda.”

Arlene Foster added: “Northern Ireland’s Public Sector Innovation Lab is one of the first regional labs to be established by a devolved administration. The lab offers a fresh, alternative approach to developing both strategic and tactical solutions to complex policy and operational issues.

“Innovation labs offer a mechanism where service users, their families and representative bodies can work with partners from public, private, voluntary and charity sectors in co-designing and co-producing solutions to their needs.”

Today’s event brings together public innovators from across the world to hear about the latest tools, learn new skills, share thinking, experience and build the basis for future collaboration.

Arlene Foster concluded: “Northern Ireland can learn from the work of other groups that have been established to address some of the most complex and challenging problems that face society today. The Northern Ireland Innovation Lab will benefit from this network and be in a better position to foster and promote innovation within our public sector.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Innovation Lab plans to run 20 projects in 2015.
  2. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance and Personnel Communications Office on Tel: 028 9081 6724 or 028 9081 6725. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.

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