Quote of the week
“The Hub will…help change the way the Public Service does business.”
In the U.K., the “Nudge Unit”, or Behavioural Insights Team, was set up in the Cabinet Office at PM David Cameron’s request.
Destination 2020, the report that outlines next steps for the Clerk’s Blueprint 2020 exercise, borrows from this initiative and announces the setting up of an Innovation Hub in PCO.
Cameron had an interest in behavioural economics before he became Prime Minister. He spoke of it back in February 2010 on Ted Talks.
The goal of the U.K. unit is to use behavioural psychological research to help people make the right decisions and, in so doing, save the government money. A side impact is that it is bringing data and research back into decision-making.
The U.K. unit has had some successes. Take court fines. Typically, when people don’t pay up, they are sent a reminder letter: the result is about a 5 percent compliance rate. In a sample group, the Nudge Unit suggested that, rather than a letter, late payers be sent a text message with their name in it: the response rate went up to 33 percent. Applied across the country, this approach could save £30 million.
The Nudge Unit has gained a lot of interest internationally and in the private sector and so, in what must be a first, the Cameron government has partly privatized this policy team.
The charity Nesta, which helps “people and organizations bring great ideas to life,” the government, and employees will each own a third.
Talk about innovation. The U.K. government was not only ahead of the game when it created the Behavioural Insights Team, but continues to be so by spinning this policy group partly outside government.