A Pilot Centre for Excellence in Public Sector Design

[Ken Pettifer is acting Deputy Secretary at the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education] 

One of the ideas included in the Australian Public Service (APS) Innovation Action Plan released in 2011 was the establishment of an APS Design Centre that could assist in developing and testing new approaches to complex policy challenges and to enhance government program delivery. This in turn was based on a recommendation within Empowering Change that the APS establish a MindLab style collaborative experimentation program.

In December the Secretary of my Department, Dr Don Russell, gained agreement and support from the Secretaries Board for an 18 month pilot. This will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the value of design thinking across the APS and to ensure the Centre’s activities complement the growing body of design expertise the already exists within a number of APS agencies.   

We are now working to establish the ‘Centre for Excellence in Public Sector Design’. The Centre will be hosted by the Australian National University and it is planned that it will commence work in the first half of 2012.

One of the key steps in establishing the Centre is finding a person who can lead the Centre and demonstrate the value of this new approach and the contributions of innovation and design thinking in delivering better outcomes. We have called for expressions of interest for the CEO role (advertisement available in word, rtf) and I encourage you to bring the opportunity to the attention of any candidates that you might think suitable for this senior and important role in the APS innovation agenda.

Many of the other details of the Centre are still being finalised, and the team will aim to provide updates when appropriate.

I look forward to the establishment of the pilot Centre and its potential in showing how public sector innovation and design thinking can help achieve better solutions and stronger engagement with those we serve.