Call for Applications, Innovative Solutions Scheme 2018


The Astana Civil Service Hub (hereinafter – the Hub) was established during its Founding Conference in March 2013 with support of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, by 25 countries and 5 international organizations with the United Nations Development Programme in Kazakhstan (UNDP CO) as a key partner. Today, the Hub is comprised of 38 countries and more than 30 institutional partners with its mission to contribute to the development of more effective civil service systems and more efficient public service delivery in the countries of the region and beyond. The Hub serves as a multilateral platform, where participating countries are engaged in exchanging and testing up-to-date knowledge, which will build capacity, generate innovative solutions and contribute to global agendas on civil service excellence.



Due to increasing complexity and change in the global environment, managing the public sector has become a demanding concern for policy makers, service delivery managers and civil servants. To address the global challenges Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the world leaders two years ago at UN GA. Namely, SDG 16 aims ‘to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’. Therefore, the Hub serves as an instrument in achieving SDGs aiming to call for a new level of partnership.

The Hub continuously seeks innovative solutions in civil service management that have been effectively implemented. In 2015, the Hub launched the first round of the Innovative Solutions Scheme (hereinafter – the Scheme). 21 applications were received from 9 countries, such as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, FYR of Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan and the UK. There were two themes chosen for the first round: (1) Enhancement of Service Delivery in Public Education; and (2) Innovative Methods of Protecting Meritocratic Principles in Selection and Promotion Processes of Civil Servants. As a result of evaluation by the international selection panel, six grant winners were identified.  


This year the Hub is announcing the 2nd round of the Innovative Solutions Scheme, which aims not only to identify and award the most effective innovative solutions in the civil service, but also to encourage replication of these solutions in other countries on E-Governance Innovations. The Scheme will serve as a tool to design new, identify best and replicate the most successful innovative solutions in new public governance and disseminate this knowledge among participating and partnering countries.

Purpose, Objectives and Expected Outputs

The purpose of the Scheme is to institutionalize innovation in governance and civil service and encourage more effective civil service systems and more efficient public service delivery in the Hub participating countries.


There is a lack of agreement on what actually defines and constitutes innovation. In this Scheme ‘innovation’ implies ‘the creation and implementation of new processes, products, services and methods of delivery which result in significant improvements in outcomes efficiency, effectiveness or quality. In this context, solutions are considered innovative if they are new to the context of participating countries.


Governments are confronted by uncertain and complex challenges whose scale and nature call for new innovative approaches to address them. Some of the governments have started to use systems approaches in policy making and service delivery to tackle complex or “wicked” problems. Systems approaches refer to a set of processes, methods and practices that aim to effect system change.


Adopting such an approach will require significant adjustments on the part of governments. This requires moving away from traditional linear procedures, strategic planning and the notion of reform as an isolated intervention in favor of building capacity to forecast future scenarios and digital government innovations and ensuring that leadership is applied to mobilising a broad range of actors to focus on achieving a common good rather than on narrow institutional interests.


Specific objectives of initiating the Scheme are:


  • To encourage citizen-centered service approach and motivate civil servants from the Hub participating countries to sustain the momentum of innovation and enhancement of digital public governance
  • To collect and disseminate successful practices and experiences in public governance to support efforts to enhance public service delivery at a country level;
  • To promote, encourage and facilitate networking among public governance institutions and organizations;
  • To promote participatory governance in the Hub’ participating countries.


The expected outputs of each winning solution are:

  • Case study describing the innovativeness of the solution including best and failed practices;
  • Manual for potential replication by other countries.


For the full list of the Hub participating countries, please see

The Innovative Solutions Scheme in 2018 will focus on Digital Government Innovations. Sub-themes include, but are not limited to, the following:


  1. Digital Civil Service
  2. Disruptive Technologies and Civil Service
  3. Digital Citizenship and Participatory Government
  4. Government Management in Fostering Public Sector Innovation
  5. Open Government Data and the New Frontier of Innovative Service Delivery
  6. Data-Driven Smart Government
  7. Incentivizing Staff and Building Capacity for Digital Innovation
  8. Creating a Working, Learning and Innovative Environment
  9. Public Governance: Digital Competencies


The new digital environment offers opportunities for more collaborative and participatory relationships across stakeholders to actively shape political priorities, collaborate in the design of public service and participate in their delivery. Digital technologies in governance can dramatically improve public sector capacity, boost governments’ accountability and drive economic growth.


Each new policy can be accompanied with innovative technological solutions, which could be easily integrated into public policies and governmental programs. Thus, the emerging significance of public services stresses the need for innovative quality assessment tool through IT solution.


All public organizations/agencies at national and sub-national levels, academies of public administration, think-tanks, public associations, non-profit organizations, profitable organizations or private companies, as well as individuals – researchers and experts are eligible to apply. We accept applications from ALL COUNTRIES.


The following are NOT eligible to apply to the Scheme:

  • UNDP Country Offices
  • Country Offices of other UN Agencies


An applicant may submit more than one application but only one of the proposed solutions may be supported.

Selection Process and Evaluation Criteria

All applications will be reviewed and scored by a five-member Selection Panel, experts in public governance, nominated by the Hub Steering Committee – members of the Hub’s Advisory Board, UNDP CO and the Hub Research Team. The Panel will select 1-5 solutions among applications in each category and submit its minutes, recommendations and full set of qualified applications to the Hub and UNDP Country Office in Kazakhstan.


All successful applications must meet two overarching criteria:

  • Proposed solution is based on development of new tools and innovative solutions in order to improve access to, as well as the delivery of, programs and services to citizens;
  • Proposed solution is replicable, transferable and adaptable to other communities.
  • Proposed technological solution (IT application) should be designed to assess the quality of public services, etc.


Other criteria include:

  • Relevance of the solution to the objectives and priorities of the Scheme
  • Relevance of the solution to the needs identified
  • Clarity of methodology
  • Visibility and sustainability strategy
  • Self-evaluation and performance monitoring system with well-defined indicators
  • Partnership and networking strategy with government agencies and entities


Selection Process Steps:

  1. Application Procedure

1-1: Announcement of the Call for Applications

The Hub and UNDP CO will publish the Call for Applications on their websites. The Hub and UNDP CO disseminate the Call for Applications through other relevant channels to ensure wide coverage aiming to receive high quality applications from the countries. Applications are submitted online through the Hub’s website

1-2: Short Listing Applications by a Selection Panel

Research Team conducts a preliminary screening and assessment for qualification under the proposed scheme and category.


  1. Evaluation, Ranking and Final Selection of Qualifying Applications

2-1: Technical review of applications by the Selection Panel and ranking of applications.

Technical review and scoring of the applications will be in accordance with the selection criteria adopted by Selection Panel.

2-2: Notification of winners.


  1. Contracting

3-1: Check of formal requirements of applications.

3-2: Signing of agreements and payment of the first installment.

Detailed requirements for deliverables and the mechanism of interaction between the winner and the Innovative Solutions Scheme organizers will be described in separate contracting documents.


  1. Preparation and Presentation of Deliverables

4-1: Preparation of case studies and manuals for replication by the winners.

Case studies and manuals should be submitted to the Hub Research Team for the review, potential feedback and approval.

4-2: Presentation of case studies and manuals at the seminars organized by the Hub.


  1. Replication of Successful Cases

5-1: Establishment of Partnerships.

The Hub and corresponding UNDP country offices coordinate establishment of partnerships between the winner and governments/public institutions/individuals willing to replicate the successful cases.

5-2: The Hub will be coordinating and facilitating partnerships between the winner and other entities/individuals willing to replicate innovative solutions.


  1. Publication and Dissemination

6-1: The Scheme implementation results and findings on the most successful innovative solutions in public governance are published.

6-2: The Hub disseminates knowledge and new ideas on modernization of civil service.

The funding aims to cover the costs for preparation of a case study and a manual for potential replication of solutions by other countries and their presentation at relevant events. Several applications in each category will be awarded and assessed on an individual basis.

Deadline and Contact Information


Applying individuals/organizations must complete an online application form in English or Russian on the Hub’s website and submit it no later than 30 April 2018, 12.00 (noon) Astana time.


Click here to access the online application in English.

Click here to access the online application in Russian.


Any requests for clarification on the application process shall be sent to Kuralay Baibatyrova, Project Expert, at