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Article Article October 11th, 2018
Infrastructure • Cities • Technology • Innovation

Doing digital in government: three tips for getting it right

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We've reviewed 8 #digital govt initiatives across 4 continents & 3 levels of govt from our observatory. Some common themes emerged...

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Don’t underestimate the importance of public confidence when it comes to delivering #digital #government initiatives successfully

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The willingness of political leaders to invest political capital in #digital government projects is crucial to the success of a project.

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In the lead up to the 2018 Tallinn Digital Summit, which takes place later this month, we reviewed eight digital government case studies from our Public Impact Observatory. We looked at digital government initiatives across four continents and three levels of government to see what we might be able to learn about them. Azerbaijan, the City of Boston, Chile, the state of Bihar in India, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea and Sweden are all very different, yet some consistent lessons for successful digital government initiatives emerge.

Here are our three top tips:


  1. Political leadership is important

The willingness of political leaders to invest political capital in digital government projects is crucial to the success of a project.

In the Indian state of Bihar, the chief minister Nitish Kumar invested heavily in digital services to improve service delivery in his state and restore the public's confidence in government. Kumar's clear political commitment was key to transforming the way government works, with Bihar earning national acclaim for its work in promoting e-government.

Azerbaijan's Service and Assessment Network is a one-stop shop for government services, which won a UN award for public service delivery in 2015. The Network is directly accountable to the president, and its success depended on strong executive buy-in.

In South Korea, successive governments have remained committed to e-government. Since the first piece of comprehensive e-government legislation was passed in 2001 by President Kim Dae-jung, his successors have continued to display great enthusiasm for e-government. South Korea now has the most advanced levels of e-participation in the world.


  1. Learn from similar initiatives elsewhere

By gathering evidence from elsewhere on what works (and what does not), governments can be in a better position to design a successful policy.

Slovenia's portal is an online tool that enables citizens to make policy proposals to government, and was adapted from a similar project in Estonia. The Estonian software was updated and extended with new functionality to meet Slovenia's needs, and the portal has now accumulated almost 13,000 registered users. These users submitted 5,000 suggestions, 33 percent of which received the required level of support to be forwarded for government response.

The Chilean government was able to draw on the experience of international models such as Service Canada, Centrelink in Australia, and Singapore's eCitizen model in designing and building the ChileAtiende one-stop shop platform for government services.

In developing its BOS:311 system, which allows citizens to report incidents to the administration using smart apps, texts, tweets and phone calls, the City of Boston was able to learn from the experience of comparable models in other cities. It was clear to the local government that the platform worked well, with one city councillor describing its adoption as “a no-brainer”.


  1. Don't underestimate the importance of public confidence

Public confidence in a government's ability to deliver digital government initiatives successfully is vital to ensure uptake and promote trust.

Since the early 1980s, the Singapore government has tapped into advances in ICT to transform public administration and service delivery. Singapore's eGov2015 Masterplan was launched on the back of the government's successful 2010 e-government initiative. Government surveys report that 87 percent of people are satisfied with the quality of the government's e-services and 93 percent would recommend other transactions with government through e-services.

Sweden's portal gives businesses a single point of contact with the Swedish government from start-up onwards. Prior to its introduction, business owners described being referred from one agency to another. With high levels of public confidence in its ability to cut red tape and make their lives easier - especially among entrepreneurs - almost 60 percent of Swedish businesses already use the portal.



Written by:

Ethan Bowering Senior Programme Associate
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