SIGMA ministerial conference: plenary session 1


How should public administrations transform to deliver for citizens in challenging times?


Modern public governance needs to transform to meet the complex challenges and multiple needs of citizens and businesses. Governments need to recognise and understand the change factors required in order to adapt and transform accordingly.

Public budgets are under heavy pressure to improve delivery in crucial areas such as healthcare, education and security.  Studies and experience across countries have shown that the only way to handle such problems is to engage citizens in a deeper and more meaningful way. New working methods from design thinking to horizontal collaboration, and building new skills and capacities in the civil service are needed to find innovative solutions and for creating systemic change.

What changes and steps should be taken by the key decision makers of public administration reform to steer the public administration through these challenges?


Keynote speech

Marco Steinberg, Founder of Snowcone & Haystack, Associate Professor at the Harvard Design School, former Strategic Design Director of Finnish innovation agency SITRA.

Mr Steinberg set the scene for Plenary session 1, focusing on how to solve complex challeges faced by our governments and societies by using strategic redesign. As former Strategic Design Director of the Finnish innovation agency SITRA and an Associate Professor at the Harvard Design School, he believes that real innovation happens by challenging current thinking and categories. He has published extensively on design, innovation and transformations in the public sector and worked with a broad range of institutions and organisations internationally.


Session moderator

Edwin Lau, Head of Division, Reform of the Public Sector, Public Governance Directorate, OECD.



Senida Mesi, Deputy Prime Minister of Albania

Vache Gabrielyan, Vice Prime Minister of Armenia

Dhurata Hoxha, Minister of European Integration of Kosovo*

Mohammed Ben Abdelkader, Minister delegate to the Head of Government, responsible for the reform of the Administration and the Civil Service of Morocco

Irma Kavtaradze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia

Main messages

SIGMA has summarised below the main messages of this session, based on the speeches and discussions that took place.

  • The traditional approach to government is difficult to apply to our changing social environment, and we need to invent new solutions.

  • We generally only look at problems from the point of view of specific institutions rather than looking at the whole picture. Instead, we need to redesign and be innovative with the way government functions.

  • Problems cannot always be solved with just one measure but there are many measures to be taken at the same time, in collaboration across institutions.

  • In order to allow citizens to make informed choices, communication is crucial, and both citizens and businesses should be consulted in order for the government to understand what is expected of a competent civil service.

  • The engagement of citizens and other stakeholders and genuine dialogue is the cornerstone of innovation in redesigning the government.


This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244/99 and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.



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