Meld. St. 4 (2018–2019)

Long-term plan for research and higher education 2019–2028 — Meld. St. 4 (2018–2019) Report to the Storting (white paper)

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5 Public sector renewal and better public services

It is a Government objective to ensure that Norway is a sustainable welfare state. High employment and labour force participation and an effective, adaptable and innovative public sector will be necessary to ensure welfare for the population in future.

The public sector consists of the public administration and businesses and companies wholly-owned by public sector bodies. Entities that find solutions to problems on behalf of the public sector will also be of major importance to achieving renewal and improving services in the public sector. The public sector accounts for just below 50 per cent of GDP and one-third of the labour force. The activities of the public sector include delivering public services and civil infrastructure, designing and implementing measures, ensuring good framework conditions and safeguarding democratic values.

The Government seeks to modernise the public sector in order to further develop the welfare framework. The public sector must be renewed and simplified, and efforts involving research and needs-driven innovation in the sector must therefore be intensified. The public sector must implement ongoing development and innovation and make use of new research-based knowledge and new working and organisational methods. High-quality research and education will play a key role in promoting modernisation, efficiency and innovation in public entities.

Public sector employees must be in possession of knowledge and expertise that can foster new ways of working and collaborating. This is imperative if the sector is to continue to provide high-quality measures and services in light of tomorrow’s stricter budget constraints. The Government will promote higher quality in research and education overall, and seek to expand research in areas of strategic importance for the public sector in particular.

The business sector also plays an important part in public sector renewal. The business sector works together with public stakeholders to develop many of the solutions that help to modernise, streamline and improve public services. Many of the services are also carried out by or in collaboration with private actors. The public sector procures goods and services worth about NOK 500 billion per year. There is a considerable unrealised potential for more innovation through pre-commercial and innovative public procurement.

The Government will step up the pace of digitalisation in the public sector. Automation and increased use of artificial intelligence can, over time, increase efficiency and make it possible to raise the quality of public services, thereby enhancing the sustainability of the welfare state. There is thus a need for more research-based knowledge about how public entities can make use of new technology and the impacts of this technology on users. Moving forward, digital competence should be incorporated as a more integral component of educational programmes aimed at jobs in the public sector.

Making public data more easily accessible for researchers, the business sector and the public at large is an established objective. Data sets generated by various public actors are often of great relevance for research. Better access to public data, for example health data, for researchers could lead to better and more relevant research and smarter service development in the public sector.

The Government will increase allocations for research and higher education that is targeted towards renewal, improvement and increased efficiency in the public sector, and that can lead to better, more effective services and measures for the population.

The Government will:

  • encourage higher quality and relevance in education and research to lay the foundation for a more knowledge-based public sector and better service production;

  • expand the scope and raise the quality of research in areas of strategic importance for the public sector;

  • facilitate more research and needs-driven innovation in the public sector;

  • encourage broader cooperation between the public sector, business sector and research institutes through the use of innovative public procurement;

  • lay the foundation for better utilisation of public data for research and innovation.

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