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Measuring the indefinable: the NZ Innovation Barometer

Read about the first recipient of the Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund 2020/21 funding round — the NZ Innovation Barometer.

The funding round for 2021/22 is now closed.

The Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund champions collaboration and supports diverse projects that promote system benefits within a digital government.

To complement and inform the final round of applicants, the funding team is profiling 3 successful applicants from the 2020/21 round of funding.

The first recipient to be featured is the NZ Innovation Barometer, a globally unique cross-government measurement tool produced by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Creative HQ.

Case study insights

  • Using the Innovation Barometer data collected from public sector partners, the team identified that the biggest barrier to innovation within public sector organisations is access to resourcing and funding. Where resourcing and funding is made available to develop and test ideas, it has a positive impact on the organisation as a whole.
  • The data collected by the Innovation Barometer highlighted that more can be done to support staff to innovate within their projects day to day. Collected insights show that staff working on a problem are best placed to offer successful solutions due to their first hand understanding of the challenges involved.

Interview with Innovation Specialist, Creative HQ — Sally Hett

We caught up with Innovation Specialist Sally Hett at the Creative HQ office in Wellington and asked her a few questions about the project.

Video transcript


Intro page displaying the Te Tari Taiwhenua Internal Affairs Department of Internal Affairs logo. Sally Hett is seated in front of a decorative screen in the Creative HQ office.


So we, Creative HQ, and our partners NZTE, have created the Innovation Barometer to support government agencies ...


View of Sally walking through the open plan office with co-workers seated at large meeting desks.


... so central government, local government and Crown entities to lift their innovative ability.


Sally is in the original setting, seated in the Creative HQ office.


My name is Sally Hett and I work at Creative HQ, leading the Innovation Barometer.


View of Sally continuing her walk through the office then cuts back to her original setting, seated in the Creative HQ office.


The Innovation Barometer is a tool that creates new data and insights on an organisation’s innovative ability. We then work with them to co-create actions and create case studies so they can learn how to lift their innovative ability.

So we were seeing that, you know, frontline staff and staff really get it and that senior leaders were wanting to innovate, but they didn’t have that data to know how to lift it. And, you know, a really evidence driven and data driven public sector could use this new data to help inform those decisions that are ongoing.

What do we mean by innovation in the public sector? So we see innovation as something new that delivers value and that’s implemented. And so that’s new in your context, not necessarily new. You know, adopting ideas is a really good thing.


Aerial view of 2 people at a work desk. The person (left) holds an iPad pencil in front of a computer monitor and an iPad. Their workmate (right) holds a pencil poised above a sheet of drawing paper with annotated sketches.


And it could be a service or a product or just a process change on your kind of BAU work or the way you communicate with people.


Camera zooms into image on the iPad then cuts back to Sally in the original setting, seated in the Creative HQ office.


The Innovation Barometer would not exist without the Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund. And actually our data from our pilot last year showed that resourcing and funding is the hardest part to innovation.


View of Sally continuing her walk through the open plan office then cuts back to Sally in the original setting, seated in the Creative HQ office.


So we were able to run that pilot last year with the funding and an extended pilot this year with between 8 and 15 organisations. So New Zealand is seen as a global leader in public sector innovation. And our vision is that all government agencies that are doing the Barometer to be learning and sharing year-on-year to be delivering better outcomes for citizens.


On a white background are the words ‘The Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund. Find at more at’.

Outro page is a centred black logo featuring the New Zealand coat of arms and words ‘Te Tari Taiwhenua Internal Affairs’.

What is the NZ Innovation Barometer?

Senior government leaders see innovation as vital to achieving their strategies and require better insights to lift their organisation’s capability in a targeted approach.

The NZ Innovation Barometer provides government organisations with visualised data and insights on their innovative ability.

We then work with organisations to co-develop actions and case studies to improve. With year-on-year data, organisations can track progress over time, benchmarked against other organisations.

With the Barometer data and actions roadmap, leaders have what they need to change their organisation’s conditions for innovation.

Why is this project important?

The need for government organisations to respond to increasingly complex challenges is growing. We see a future where the NZ government is the leader of innovative problem solving, working collaboratively and across borders.

As a result, trust, transparency and accountability of our government would increase. A more innovative government will contribute to achieving a more modern, agile and adaptive public service.

Key achievements / milestones

A summary of the Barometer’s key milestones.

  • We’ve been successful in 2 funding rounds from the Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund.
  • We’ve received endorsement from Paul James (Government Chief Digital Officer) and Mark Sowden (Government Chief Data Steward) in the form of a letter to all public service CEOs encouraging participation.
  • We’ve grown a fortnightly Stakeholder Group that includes our partners New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and other public organisations like Department of Internal Affairs, Statistics New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington and the Public Service Commission.
  • We’ve undertaken a pilot with 4 organisations in 2020.
  • We’ve created 11 public innovative project case studies.
  • We’ve created system data to help leaders identify what support the public service as a whole needs — informing system-level strategies and monitoring towards a unified public service.
  • We presented our findings to the Digital Governance Leadership Group.
  • We’re in the process of onboarding 10 organisations in the 2021 cycle with 7 already onboard.


Planning for the future and creating a sustainable funding model so we can track progress over time, and map trends and assess the impact of certain actions.

Moving forward

We hope to run the Barometer in repeated cycles for all government organisations to track progress and improve. Imagine when we have this data for the whole public service!

About the fund

All New Zealand public sector organisations are eligible to apply for the Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund with an overall budget of $5 million per annum.

The innovation fund is an initiative driven by the Digital Government Leadership Group (DGLG), made up of 13 Chief Executives from across the public service.

Find out more:

Read about other 2020/2021 innovation fund recipients.

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