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OECD stresses adaptative governance frameworks, resilient DPI

OECD stresses adaptative governance frameworks, resilient DPI

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a global intergovernmental policy forum, has published its latest Digital Government Index report in which it recommends that for countries to establish more productive digital government structures, they must put in place appropriate governance frameworks as well as resilient digital public infrastructure (DPI), among other important steps.

The 37-page 2023 OECD Digital Government Index report, published on January 30, peeps into efforts made by 38 governments, mostly those of OECD member countries, to create the environment and governance conditions required for the putting in place of seamless and human-focussed digital transformation ecosystems to facilitate access to digital government services.

The survey, for which data was collected from 33 OECD members countries, four accession countries and one partner country, between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022, posits that in order for digital transformation undertakings to be sustainable in the long term, there is the crucial need to build firm foundations, including a reliable governance framework adapted to emerging technologies such as generative artificial intelligence, as well as a resilient digital public infrastructure.

The report reckons that because of the invaluable role which digital technology played in the days of the coronavirus pandemic, facilitating delivery of vital public services such as government-to-people payments for social welfare in some countries, it is important for these countries to build on such progress.

“Looking to the future, the challenge is for governments to take a strategic approach to digital government that both builds on the progresses made during COVID-19 and seeks to deliver results in the long term. To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the public sector, governments are required to become more flexible and future-oriented to capture the benefits of digital transformation while mitigating its potential risks,” the report recommends.

Explaining further, the report posits: “Solid foundations for a sustainable and long-term digital transformation of the public sector include setting up governance arrangements that can adapt to a rapidly changing digital environment. This governance should be grounded on a strategy for digital government that sets a common vision and objectives for the whole-of-government and provides the capabilities to deliver quality public services.”

Per the report, “achieving these outcomes requires a transformation to enable greater interoperability, integration and collaboration, within and across sectoral boundaries and levels of government, as well as beyond national borders.”

The publication, which is part of the OECD’s public governance policy papers, examines six dimensions of digital government, viz Digital by design, data-driven public sector, government-as-a platform, open by default, user-driven and proactiveness.

It doesn’t gauge the level of digitalization of specific government services; it only makes a general assessment of digital government by determining the level to which the countries under study have the “necessary foundations in place to be able to leverage data and technology to deliver a whole-of-government and human-centric digital transformation of the public sector.”

As listed in the report, the best performing countries in the 2023 Digital Government Index, in this order, are Korea, Denmark, United Kingdom, Norway Australia, Estonia, Colombia, Ireland, France and Canada.

Australia, Ireland salute ranking, digital transformation progress

The OECD publication has already elicited reactions from the governments of some of these best-performing counties such as Australia and Ireland.

Ranked 5th on the Index in its first-ever participation, Australia’s Finance Minister Katy Gallagher called it “an impressive achievement,” according to InnovationAus.

Gallagher, who oversees financing of the Australian federal government’s digital transformation agenda, added that “we want to keep this momentum going.”

Also reacting to the report, Ireland’s Minister for Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform, Pascal Donohoe, saluted the country’s digital transformation progress, noting that it is “increasing productivity, enhancing services and improving people’s lives.”

Minister of State for Public Procurement and eGovernment, Ossian Smith TD, also remarked: “Digital transformation is a whole of government endeavour, driven by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer within my department. They are bringing together colleagues from across government and this combined effort will continue to deliver better digital public services.”

Last year, the OECD adopted new guidelines on digital ID governance. The forum has also been part of an advocacy pushing for inclusive, trustworthy and reliable digital ID governance frameworks.

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