28 Jun 2018

CORE CAPABILITIES OF A DIGITAL GOVERNMENT

Digital government is government designed and operated to take advantage of digital data in optimizing, transforming and creating government services. It is the most recent phase of governmental evolution, which has been made possible by the advent and maturity of a nexus of mobile, social, information and cloud technologies, supplemented — where it makes sense — by the Internet of Things.

Digital government builds on IT investment made in previous governmental phases — known previously as e-government, joined-up government, Government 2.0 and open government. It applies principles developed in previous phases and leverages them to form new business models and partnerships between public, nonprofit and private sectors — based on digitalization and data-centric services.

Governments typically begin their digitization efforts by rebuilding a few fundamental capabilities around advanced technologies. With experience, they can broaden their digitization programs, working toward providing world-class digital experiences to citizens, businesses, and other users of government services. Government capabilities have been grouped into four categories— services, processes, decisions, and data sharing.

Transforming government through the power of digital technologies will be a journey. Governments are at very different stages in this journey. While small percentages are what we consider “maturing,” the overwhelming majority are still in the early or developing stages of the digital transformation journey. By digitizing processes and making organizational changes, governments can enhance services, save money, and improve citizens’ quality of life; governments can provide services that meet the evolving expectations of citizens and businesses, even in a period of tight budgets and increasingly complex challenges. Using current technology, government digitization could generate over $1 trillion annually worldwide. Achieving that transformation is undoubtedly going to draw heavily on the use to digital technologies in order to optimize the benefits for all citizens (through services that are more tailored to specific needs and perspectives, more responsive, higher quality and lower cost, including in terms of user time), and realize benefits for public sectors generally (through increasingly shared infrastructures, administrative services and ICT platforms that supports a reallocation of funding to frontline services as well as a reduction of overall costs).

The key to good digital services is understanding, governments must be willing to remake products, processes, and policies around what citizens want, Providing services on mobile platforms is another way that governments are aligning with citizens’ digital preferences and behaviors. Governments are facing increasing expectations and greater demands from citizens about the range and quality of public services. And governments have set for themselves political objectives to achieve greater trust in government, including through responsiveness and transparency, and by providing opportunities for greater engagement by service users and citizens in general. At the same time, governments also face pressure for fiscal consolidation in the ongoing recovery from the global financial and economic crisis. Governments are increasingly required to have greater capacity to understand and respond to complex and frequently competing issues, and to provide services that are both tailored to individuals’ needs and aligned with national priorities.

The initial focus on information and communications technology (ICT) was aimed at improving efficiency and productivity, as a precondition for sound fiscal policies. In the longer-term, the use of digital technologies will need to be considered in the broader context in which governments are operating, with users’ perspectives increasingly to the fore. Most countries have made some investments in digitization, generally with a focus on improving efficiency in administrative services that support frontline service delivery, and some have made positive moves towards e-government by developing more user-focused services that rely on greater use of digital technologies. A smaller number of countries have moved towards full digital government with investments in some areas of service delivery, in particular in welfare service areas, focused on reflecting user demands and perspectives and looking to innovative changes in service design and delivery. Overall the use of digital technologies is moving beyond the back-office and administrative processes and being increasingly applied to direct service delivery and citizen engagement.

Governments can add features to their digital services that resemble those provided by cutting-edge digital businesses. Personalized content is one such feature whereby, parents receive regular digital reminders about upcoming health check-ups and vaccinations for their children. Shifting services onto mobile platforms is also important, given that citizens are increasingly demanding digital services via mobile. Artificial intelligence engines can make it easier for citizens to find and obtain the services they need. Just as governments should digitize their highest volume services first, they should also digitize their most labor-intensive and expensive back-end processes before others. To digitize a process effectively, governments should digitize the entire chain of activities that make it up. Once governments have digitized routine processes, they can extend their efforts to more complex ones, including those of finance, human resources, education, and other functions that rely heavily on people. They can also design new functions and processes to be digital from the beginning. To ease any adjustments, government agencies should provide workers with training in new skills, as well as assistance navigating what could be a disruptive career transition.

 

 

Article by: Blessing Bassey

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