LAC region urged to make more use of public sector innovation labs

17 Oct 16

Latin America and the Caribbean need to make better use of public sector innovation labs, according to an Inter-American Development Bank study.

The labs can help accelerate the adoption of innovative practices, but there has been concern that their potential in the LAC region is not being maximised and that they too often operate on the fringes of the public sector.

The IDB study found the labs in the region rarely evaluate their results or use random controlled experiments.

“It is absolutely essential that labs be shielded from sanctions in case something goes wrong,” said Nicolas Dassen, an open government specialist at the IDB and one of the authors of the report.

“The laboratories need to generate more capacity in design experiments and impact evaluations.”

The study suggests equipping the head of innovation labs with a legal mandate to access the information they require. They should also take into account the political and budgetary sensibilities of government institutions.

Findings from the study were presented at the IDB’s Third Open Government Dialogue between ministers and high-level officials held in Bogota, Colombia, on 13 and 14 October.

The meeting was inaugurated and addressed by Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos who recently received the Nobel Peace Prize.

He made a forceful call to stamp out public sector corruption, telling the meeting: “Every time a public sector employee abuses his power to usurp public sector resources, he puts the well-being of citizens at risk and threatens their basic rights.

“It is for this reason that corruption is one of the worst of evils and crimes.”

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