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The 8th edition of the European Public Sector Award took place under exceptional circumstances. Early 2020, Europe was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and since then, EU institutions and Member States are grappling with the political, economic and social effects. While COVID-19 provides for exceptional circumstances, it is nevertheless important to remember that societies are faced with continuing challenges which will outlast the current crisis. The crisis pushed important priorities, like digitalization, yet these priorities existed before the crisis, and they will exist beyond it. The goal of EPSA is to be at the forefront of this reform agenda and to facilitate innovation in public service delivery. In this context, the relevance of the theme of EPSA 2021 “Building a better Europe for citizens”, cannot be overstated.
These challenges are reflected in the current priorities of the EU, in particular, the European Green Deal and A Europe Fit for the Digital Age. In this context, EPSA 2021 has introduced three award categories linked to key initiatives of the European Commission: green, digital and innovative public administration. Due to various restrictions in the wake of the pandemic, EPSA itself had to demonstrate the ability to remain flexible and to adapt to changing circumstances. The experience of implementing EPSA 2021 under these circumstances not only allowed EPSA to strengthen its resilience but also to adopt new ways of digital and remote working which will be useful for future editions.
The 8th edition of EPSA coincided with the 40th anniversary of EIPA anniversary, which was celebrated in October 2021. The challenges have changed over the years, but EIPA remains committed more than ever to fulfil its role as centre of expertise for learning and development in the European public sector. EPSA remains an important element for this commitment.
A total of 126 applications have been submitted to EIPA this year. After a thorough evaluation, 18 applications were preselected to be presented to the jury. In the final stage, the three best projects in three categories – Innovation, Green and Digital – have been praised during the ceremony.
In the category ‘Green’
- First prize: EnerCoach – a digital energy accounting platform for municipalities to monitor energy consumption of public infrastructure, Luxembourg;
- Second prize: Smart infrastructure for smart public administration, Estonia;
- Third prize: Processing invasive alien plants into useful products and input material for industry, Slovenia.
In the category ‘Digital’
- First prize: Vienna provides space, Austria;
- Second prize: JustizOnline, Austria;
- Third prize: Cross-border fines, Belgium.
In the category ‘Innovative’
- First prize: LabX – experimentation laboratory for the public administration, Portugal;
- Second prize: Government buys innovation, Belgium.
Additionally, two projects were rewarded with an honourable mention for reaction/relevance to the Covid-19 crisis:
- In the ‘Digital’ category: Transparency at the service of health, Spain
- In the ‘Innovative’ category: At a distance, but close to you, Romania.
Trends and future developments in European public administration
EPSA 2021 was concluded with a high-level conference in November 2022, taking place as in-person event in Amsterdam. Given the COVID-19 restrictions, which required the organisation of the Award Ceremony as online event, the conference provided the opportunity for stakeholders to network and to tack stock of the current state of play in terms of public sector reform. To discuss tools and instruments for fostering innovation across Europe, the conference brought together speakers from the European Commission (DG REFORM), the OECD as well as representatives of national innovation communities.
Supporting Design and Implementation of Reforms
23 March 2022 – EU Support to public administration
This workshop introduces the Commission approach in supporting Member States’ national administrations in the design and implementation of reforms and provides an overview of available EU instruments.
25 April 2022 – The Common Assessment Framework (CAF): the quality tool for national, regional and local public services
This workshops is an introductory workshop into the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) model, which aims to explain the steps needed to implement CAF2020 in public administrations to improve the performance of their services. All public administration officials, working in local, regional or national institutions are welcome to attend this workshop.
5 May 2022 – Skills for evidence-informed policymaking
In light of new challenges related to climate change, digital transformation and current and future health risks, there is a need for governments and administrations to increase capacities for effective policy making. This workshop is an essential element of the learning path aiming to develop knowledge and skills of researchers and policy makers and foster their excellence in policy-making.
Innovation in public administration
12 May 2022 – Public sector innovation: tools and methods to create an innovation-friendly ecosystem
New challenges require public administrations to embrace and integrate innovation to develop new solutions for persistent problems, and to set new directions of administrative reform. We will introduce a theoretical and practical frameworks to foster systematic organisational change to promote innovation in public administration. This workshop is addressed primarily to (chief) executives, public managers and innovation team managers.
20 May 2022 – Digitalisation and Public Sector Innovation
This workshop will focus on identifying challenges and drivers of reforms that public administration face currently. Experts from OECD and European Commission will introduce current policies and policy frameworks to respond to technological change. Moreover, we will discuss the role of Artificial Intelligence and its technical and legal foundations to be used in public administrations.
2 June 2022 – Using digital tools to foster integrity in Public Administration
This workshop will introduce key concepts and practices of public sector integrity. Experts from the OECD and the European Commission will present empirical evidence as well as policies, initiatives and tools to foster integrity. In the workshop, experts will engage in a dialogue with participants to discuss the most important challenges to foster integrity.
28 June 2022 – Green transition
In this workshop, we will present good practices of green transition and discuss strategies and instruments available to administrations, such as green budgeting and public procurement.
Good public management: advanced skills for public officials
9 June 2022 – Leadership, Culture and Change Management
The role of manager will be decisive in determining the success or failure of the (digital) transformation in the world of work. This workshop will focus on the role of the manager and the range of experiences relevant to the reorientation of leadership development moving forward.
21 June 2022 – Strategic workforce planning and talent management
In view of the shortage of skilled workers, new talent groups must be leveraged and recruitment processes redesigned. Administration must position itself as a competitive employer. This workshop tackles the question around the talent management strategies and approaches in public administration.
24 June 2022 – Diverse Workforce and New Work: Inclusiveness and gender mainstreaming
Diversity needs a value oriented organisational culture and strong leadership and collaboration. Inclusion is more than integration and this promotes strong identification with the employers. In this workshop we will have a special focus on inclusiveness and promoting staff members with disabilities and the role of Gender Mainstreaming.
5 July 2022 – Government communication: fit for the future
While new technologies have enabled citizens and policy makers to connect to each other, these technologies also had a profound impact on established media systems and the very fabric of democratic governance. In this workshop, we will discuss these changes and challenges, and how governments can respond to (re-)gain trust and foster democracy.
Foresight and Crisis Management
8 September 2022 – Working with complexity
The increasing complexity of policies requires governments and administrations to adapt and to find new and innovative solutions. In this workshop, we discuss how policy makers and administrations can cope with complexity, and how the challenge of increasing complexity can be seen as providing opportunities for innovation.
16 September 2022 – Crisis management: preparedness and response
Recent health crisis and natural disasters have highlighted the urgent need for effective crisis management to increase preparedness and capabilities for response. In this workshop, we will present EU policies and initiatives, and discuss opportunities and challenges of transboundary crisis management.
22 September 2022 – Strategic Foresight
To anticipate the future is of utmost importance for governments to being able to adapt and prepare for change. In this workshop, we will present various EU initiatives and tools to integrate strategic foresight in policy making, and we will discuss the importance of administrative capacities for system resilience and preparedness.
The EPSA workshops are supported by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM), through the Technical Support Instrument (TSI).