By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

The Lectern: Government innovation is a priority -- in Korea

I was lucky during my stay in Korea to have a grad student in public administration, Dong-hyun (his English name is Danny) Choi, as my "helper" -- picking me up and dropping me off at the airport, answering any and all questions, and helping me pronounce a few Korean phrases (on the level of "hello" and "thank you") better. It turns out that Dong-hyun's dad is Vice Minister (in the Korean Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs) for Government Innovation.


When I spoke at the Local Government Officials Development Institute, I was introduced to the Director General of the Research and Development Center for Innovation. Korea, as part of its now twenty-year transition to democracy, is trying hard to make the transition into a modern, customer-oriented civil service -- the traditional model was more akin to ruler and ruled.


A brochure presenting the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs states that government innovation is the ministry's "key task" number one. Korea has developed an e-procurement system for online bidding, ordering, and transaction processing, which has been recognized by the UN has a best practice model for e-procurement and received a Global IT Excellence Award. Another e-government project links small villages in Korea to services via the Internet.


As part of this effort, the Korean government has now developed a Government Innovation Index to measure the readiness of agencies to innovate on behalf of performance improvement; the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has also disseminated 75 collections of best practices to spur performance improvement. Korea's public management transition, the Koreans themselves state, is a work in progress.


But they also very much see fostering a climate of innovation as central to the improvement of government performance, enough to have a Vice Minister in charge of innovation. "We are striving for customer satisfaciton and performance-oriented innovation so that people can benefit from innovatoin results first-hand," the ministry's brochure states. Hope they're not leaving us behind in the dust. A brochure of the Public Procurement Service headlines that the organization "will continue its innovation efforts to become a corporate-style procurement agency," proclaiming to its agency customers that they are "Always There For You!" I'm not sure how welcome such language would be in today's procurement climate in the US.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Oct 15, 2007 at 12:08 PM


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