UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


IIPP to establish a Public Sector Capabilities Index

26 May 2023

UCL IIPP, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, has launched a new research initiative to establish a public sector capabilities index – the first global measure of governments’ capacity to solve problems.

View of a city from a hill

UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) has announced the launch of a new research initiative that aims to establish a Public Sector Capabilities Index, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. 

The Public Sector Capabilities Index will be the first global measure of where government capacity is strong and where critical public sector skills – such as engaging residents through innovation, cross-sector collaboration, and leveraging data infrastructure and digital platforms – must be built up. 

The research focuses on cities, and as part of its output, the project will examine areas in which a municipality can quickly scale or invest in order to bolster existing capabilities, serving as a guide for city leaders as well as state and national entities who can supply funding. Bloomberg Philanthropies is supporting this initial phase of work to test the viability and usefulness of the Index. 

To design and test the Public Sector Capabilities Index, UCL IIPP will form a cross-disciplinary team of specialists in public administration, urban governance and economics, digital transformation, data analytics, and public value, as well as a project-specific advisory board comprising of high-level practitioners and academics. The team formed by UCL IIPP will work alongside cities and government officials, who will be invited to co-create, test, and refine the Index, injecting their on-the-ground experiences and expertise. 

The Public Sector Capabilities Index effort builds on the successful partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies and UCL IIPP, which began in 2021 with the formation of Mission Bootcamp. The Bootcamp provided an applied learning program for mayors and senior administration officials from 10 cities worldwide. Each participating city—from Reykjavik in Iceland to San Jose in California to Adelaide in Australia—learned about mission-oriented innovation over five weeks and began considering how the approach might be applied to address their key local challenges.

UCL IIPP Director Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Co-Principle Investigator of the project, says: “Currently, we simply don’t have a sound, data-driven approach to understanding where dynamic public sector capabilities are strong and where critical capacities need to be built up by governments. The Public Sector Capabilities Index will drive both dialogue and action, enabling local authorities to respond to domestic strengths and weaknesses and, ultimately, to deliver more innovative public services and catalyse the social transformation needed to tackle the wide slate of challenges they face. We’re delighted to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies on this important work.” 
Angharad Milenkovic, Vice-President (Advancement) at UCL says: “Philanthropic partnerships are vital to resolving core challenges facing our public institutions. This project brings together IIPP’s academic leadership, expertise, and research rigor with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ local government capacity orientation, global reach, and standard-setting expertise. It provides an opportunity to break through and generate a new conversation about how we equip local governments for the challenges ahead.”
James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation programme at Bloomberg Philanthropies says: “Cities cannot manage what they cannot measure. For local governments to confront the sweeping challenges they face, it is time to be clear-eyed about closing critical capacity gaps where and when needed so leaders at every level – from mayors to finance ministers – can move communities forward. The launch of research by the renowned team at UCL IIPP to develop a Public Sector Capabilities Index is an extension of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ ongoing support for investing in – and empowering governments – with the solutions they need to lead.” 

For more information

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organisation focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Learn more at www.bloomberg.org.

Find out more about UCL IIPP’s work in Cities and place-based innovation: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/cities-and-place-based-innovation