The Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), on behalf of the Minister for Public Service and Administration, once again hosted the 10th Annual Public Sector Innovation Conference.

The conference took place on 23 and 24 August 2016 at Cape Sun, Cape Town.


The Conference themeAligning Innovation and the Service Delivery Value Chain for Sustainable Public Sector Efficiency.

The theme addressed one of the critical aspects of public sector innovation namely that it should deliver on the promised value propositions and have a clear positive impact on service delivery. This can only be achieved when departments and institutions get the basics right and refrain from viewing innovation in isolation but as a value adding aspect that is inseparable and indispensable from the service delivery value chain. Importantly, innovation cannot be viewed as an “optional extra” but as a necessary ingredient towards excellence.

As our insights into processes improve and as technology develops, new opportunities arise to shorten or improve service delivery value chains. Some services may even become obsolete as new service channels are made possible. For instance, today citizens rather conveniently renew vehicle licences at the Post Office and not at licence offices, or opt for applying for a passport at a bank.

The theme therefore encouraged public officials to question existing service delivery value chains and challenge themselves to significantly improve these through innovation.


Despite the commendable efforts by government to deliver vital services to the public, South Africa is still polarised in terms of accessing basic services. In an effort to confront these challenges, the public sector explores innovation for viable and effective solutions, in collaboration with the private sector and citizens.

While there has been a measure of success in some of the solutions that have emerged, many have failed to deliver on the expected value proposition, resulting in wastage of state resources and mounting frustration among public officials and citizens alike.

Due to the urgency and pressure to find solutions to service delivery challenges, public officials should be on alert not to be caught up in the euphoria of glitzy, off-the-shelf and ready-made overrated solutions that are costly but with unsatisfactory impact on service delivery. For innovation to be successful, it should be contextually relevant and be able to address the root causes of service delivery failures. In addition, the process of innovating service delivery solutions should unfold alongside and be informed and influenced by the service delivery value chain.

The open innovation paradigm as well as the open government approach is becoming an ever expanding resource for public officials as they allow for citizens, SMMEs and social entrepreneurs to co-respond and co-design new solutions and make well informed and grounded interventions in existing value chains.

A common thread in all the successful service delivery innovations is that innovators or implementers are respected and acknowledged the innovation value chain. By gaining a thorough understanding of the root causes of the challenges, bringing all stakeholders on board, ensuring the availability of required resources and enablers, and taking into consideration design and context issues.

Purpose of the Conference

The purpose of the conference can be summed up as follows:

  • To provide delegates from government, business, academia and civil society an ideal opportunity to explore a common understanding of the innovation value chain as it relates to the public service delivery improvement value chain.
  • To identify opportunities to collaborate on innovation around new and viable solutions to modernise and enhance government service delivery capacity.
  • To collaborate in identifying ways of interrogating potential problem areas and challenges in building up an ideal innovation environment in the public sector.
  • To create opportunities for cross-sector collaboration and learning.
  • To showcase award-winning projects as well as ground-breaking technologies and solutions which have improved service delivery through innovation.


1. Cross-sectoral collaboration for successful Service Delivery Innovation

The nature of many of the service delivery challenges are such that they cannot be solved by one sphere of government or one department alone and require integrated cooperative solutions. This session provided the opportunity for public sector thought leaders to reflect on the strategic importance of innovation and importantly of collaboration across sectors to develop integrated innovative solutions that address linkages between mandates.

2. Innovation and the Service Delivery Value-Chain

Innovation should take place within the context of the public service and how it works in delivering services to the public. Annually departments reflect on and submit their Service Delivery Improvement Plans, set service standards and set targets to be achieved for a particular budget cycle. These are normally not challenged and are developed for the sake of compliance. Some departments, such as Home Affairs, have however challenged existing processes and are continuously improving their value chains through innovation. This sub-theme therefore reflected on successful examples and critical success factors in the alignment of innovation and the service delivery value chain.

3. Showcasing Creativity and Innovation in Service Delivery

Contrary to popular belief, the public sector is awash with commendable best-practices and excellent projects that exude innovation. This sub-theme sought to highlight innovative interventions from various government institutions which have resulted in marked improvements in the delivery of particular services.

Click here to view presentations from the conference.

Click here to view the theme of the conference.