A 112-page report commissioned by a peak body for public administrators has called for the federal bureaucracy to become more innovative.
The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) report said the public service needed more "intrapreneurs", a term referring to managers who find creative solutions for product development and marketing.
The document noted the bureaucracy had a tendency to be risk-averse, rendered inert by political uncertainty or an inability to free up resources to start exciting new projects.
Workplaces too often were segmented, creating environments which did not allow for the free flow of information.
There also was the challenge of changing the culture of public service workplaces to make civil servants more inventive and original in their thinking.
"It is simply not possible to add 'be more innovative' to the growing list of performance objectives of the public sector," the report says.
"The barriers to innovation are too systemic, too much in conflict with the deeply embedded cultures and routines that have developed to minimise risk and ensure efficiency."
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It has been reported previously that there is no shortage of entrepreneurs in the private sector who want to revolutionise Australia's federal bureaucracy. There also is no lack of former Australian public servants who demonstrate considerable creative business skills once they leave the bureaucracy. The Canberra Times has told how one ex Treasury worker in Canberra even went on to launch a multi-million dollar a year Hollywood gossip website.
The IPAA report said some of the greatest innovations in modern history had come from the hallways and offices of bureaucracies.
The internet partly came from the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency in the US, an organisation established in 1958 to avoid surprise attacks on America's national security, when it wanted to link time-sharing computers into a national system.
The worldwide web was created at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.
"The idea that markets are the only 'innovation machines', to use the economist William Baumol's phrase, is a very recent one and one that is flawed," the report says, while noting the changes in attitude needed to promote new thinking.
"Innovation in the public sector is more frequent than is usually appreciated, but it is patchy, uneven and more likely to happen despite how public sectors are organised rather than because of their systems.
"Contemporary governments are full of specialists in human resources, finance, IT and performance management, but not of expert innovators .
"It's rare to find board members responsible for ensuring a pipeline of promising new models, rare to find clarity about what counts as success or acceptable risk, rare to find public sector leaders who can explain what they spend on innovation or what they should spend.
"Experiment is the essential dynamic of learning and change in science, technology and the economy.
"How can the public sector embrace the necessity and power of experiments?"
The report said it was critical the public sector was one of the most innovative sectors of society because it was a large part of the economy and was mainly financed by taxes.
Government also was a major customer for a diverse range of suppliers of equipment, materials and services.
"Countless studies have shown that innovative and demanding public procurement is a major driver of innovation and enterprise development," the report said.
"The public sector is also a central actor in addressing the complex challenges that our societies face in areas such as climate change and adaptation to rapid economic shifts.
There should be no expectation that the public sector does all of the heavy lifting in these difficult areas.
"But the core role of the public sector remains that of providing an innovative and effective policy and program design platform."
The report was written by four University of Technology Sydney academics for the IPAA.