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Posts Tagged ‘Government’

Digitalization of government services in the post-pandemic world


Image source: Nirutistock from Getty Images | Canva

“What you should see is an exponential improvement in the quality of service. You will have proactive service delivery. You will have the best quality output that will make you feel like the government understands you, that it feels you, that it serves tailor-made services for you specifically as an individual. That is the impact of AI in your life.” – The UAE Minister for Artificial Intelligence Omar Al Olama, via

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the discourse about the importance of digital transformation to the survival of an organization, especially in the public and government sector.  At the World Government Summit 2022, it was evident that digital government has become a top priority as governments worldwide try to keep up with technological advancements and rapid change. 

Digitalization provides more efficient and high-quality services and boosts communication between governments and citizens. The three most captivating qualities of a digital government are its capacity for effective service delivery, affordable scaling, and quick adaptation. Many large-scale digital innovations from telemedicine to telework, as well as from virtual courts to virtual education were implemented to aid the needs of the citizens and maintain government services. These initiatives show how relevant digitalization is now more than ever.

Despite the progress made by many governments, reaching a mature level of digitalization is not an easy endeavor. The development efforts of countries under unusual circumstances are still being hampered by persistent problems, especially in the least developed countries. For instance, in Africa, the price of mobile broadband connections remains extremely high relative to per capita gross national income making e-government developmental initiatives compromised. 

From analog government to digital government

The digitization of government operations and public services—the switch from analog to electronic governance—has advanced dramatically during the past few decades. Governments have attempted to modernize their working practices through extensive public sector reforms to accommodate new technologies and citizen needs.

In the public sector, digital transformation plays a significant role in enhancing the potential of community participation, as well as process efficiency improvements in government organizations. Giving citizens a voice and the opportunity to participate in and work on governance increases public trust, and meeting evolving customer service needs remains a top priority. 

Denmark recently introduced an e-participation initiative where individuals can suggest new legislation through the use of electronic petitions. The Danish parliament oversees the Borgerforslag ( initiative, which translates exactly to “citizen proposal.” As of now, this project already received a total of over 1400 proposals. The program is open to everybody who is eligible to vote in general elections in Denmark. They can propose, evaluate, and vote on proposals in the portal for the changes they believe the government or society should address. The proposal may be submitted as a motion for resolution if it is supported by 50,000 eligible voters in the general election. 

In discussing digitalization in the government, e-government and digital government are two concepts that should be defined. Although these two ideas are commonly combined, they nevertheless refer to separate notions. E-government is described as the government’s use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to improve public services in the “E-Government Services Adoption: An Extension of the Unified Model of Electronic Government Adoption,” a study led by Isaac Kofi Mensah in 2020. Moreover, e-government deepens citizens’ connections to their government and promotes greater citizen involvement in the decision-making process. E-government aims to advance the effectiveness and transparency of the government by delivering services faster and cost-effectively and empowering citizens through participatory governance.

The idea of digital governance signifies a fundamental change in how governments globally are approaching their role. Governments are transforming how they use the power of information technologies: from establishing quantifiable administrative objectives to enhancing the provision of public services, from data-driven decision-making to implementing evidence-based regulations, and from providing more accountability and transparency within the government to boost public trust.

Furthermore, digital government services save employees’ time for bigger projects and reduce the production time and materials for the public services. According to GovOS, an organization that provides “innovative solutions and industry-leading services” to governments, digital government services, such as business license renewals, fishing license applications, and filing tax returns, do not require manual manpower to process an application. This allows the employee to focus on the more important projects. 

Similarly, Secretary-General of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) Dr. AKP Mochtan mentioned in the Digitalization of Public Service Delivery in Asia report that the delivery of public services can change from “being reactive to citizens’ needs to becoming proactive to anticipate future needs” as a result of the use of digital technologies.

Realizing the opportunities demands a paradigm shift in the use of digital technologies and data within governments, from e-government to digital government. In an effort to increase efficiency, an e-government approach sees technology as the answer for digitizing the delivery of an existing analog process. It puts emphasis on its implementation. In contrast, digital government practices place less emphasis on technology and more on re-engineering and revamping services and procedures to satisfy user needs. The establishment of digital-by-design cultures, which alter organizational behavior, goes hand in hand with this digitalization.

Benefits of digital public services

When properly implemented, e-government makes it possible for individuals, businesses, and organizations to connect with the government more conveniently, promptly, and affordably. The potential savings in expenses are also enormous. According to the European Commission, electronic billing in Denmark saves businesses and taxpayers a combined €200 million annually. Savings might reach $50 billion annually if implemented all over Europe. Meanwhile, e-procurement systems in Italy reduced expenses by nearly €3 billion.

E-Government results in increased internal productivity and efficiency of government workers, having more time for critical duties rather than more time-consuming tasks like filing reports or paperwork manually. It also boosts better cross-departmental collaboration since key documents are shared and can be easily found in a digital repository. Digital government services can lessen paper-based workflows that save governments money and benefit the environment. This will also result in decreased labor expenses.

Governments may accomplish more with fewer resources and provide greater services to their citizens using digital government services instead of sticking with conventional ones. These digital services for the government can also promote transparency and strengthen ties between the public and its governing body when any suspicion appears.

The conventional approach to service delivery entails several paper-based procedures, a minimal to no understanding of the business processes, a significant time and labor commitment, and no public access to the data collected. The advantages of digital government services not only assist in solving all of these challenges.  But they also strengthen the bond between governments and their constituents.

Drivers and challenges

In times of social distance, the digital government has also played a crucial role in enabling public institutions to continue to be available and functional so they can meet citizens’ requirements. Only the governments in the region with the appropriate digital infrastructure have been able to provide services like transferring resources to people in need, distance learning for students, telemedicine, and the distribution of basic information on plans, strategies, and policies during the pandemic.

Governments increased their digital journey to meet their constituents’ needs by expanding digital infrastructure through automation and artificial intelligence, utilizing cloud-based services, and building a digital architecture for the entire government. Moreover, the government makes the public sector workforce more digital and invests in the interconnectedness of citizens to accelerate digitization during the pandemic.

In the coming years, a number of countries plan to considerably boost the amount they spend on digital infrastructure. The “digital divide” between the most and least connected communities will be addressed by investments in updating technology infrastructure and establishing fiber networks to boost internet access. As part of the Digital Spain 2025 initiative, the Spanish government plans to invest €20 billion in digital infrastructure in the next three years, with an additional €50 billion coming from private sources. The French government plans to invest €7 billion in digital projects, including modernizing public information systems and stepping up initiatives to include older individuals online.

In Thailand, 5G networks have facilitated cooperation between the public and private sectors and are a key part of the government’s Thailand 4.0 digital recovery plan. In a similar manner, the Scottish Government committed £4 million in financing as part of the Scotland 5G Connect Program for the construction of a number of hubs that would roll out 5G services throughout the nation. In addition, the Australian government invested over $21.2 million in commercial 5G trials and testbeds across important industry sectors to speed up the implementation.

Meanwhile, the United States has a reputation for being a leader in digital government services. Based on The KPI Institute’s Government Services Index (GSI) 2022, the United States is the top performer in the Digitalization dimension. The GSI 2022 report compiles and ranks 66 countries around seven regions in the world based on their performance in different dimensions and indicators. It highlights the Digitalization dimension, which refers to the significance of technology and redefining ways in how residents and public services interact. 

The United States started its e-government journey two decades ago when the country published The E-Government Act of 2002. Its goal was to foster the utilization of the internet and new technologies across government agencies, as well as the provision of citizen-centric government information and services. The United States Digital Service (USDS), whose goal is to provide a better government experience, was also established.

This article was first published in the 24th printed edition of PERFORMANCE Magazine. You can get a free digital copy from the TKI Marketplace here or purchase a print copy from Amazon for a nominal fee here.

Indonesia’s bureaucratic reform initiatives: How to be an agile government


What is an agile government, and how can it be achieved? 

Agile is a well-known approach in the IT industry, where teams create deliverables in small incremental value within an iteration to achieve one big final goal or a product. This approach supports continuous development and allows teams to shift quickly when necessary because clients may ask for drastic changes. 

Given the kind of results produced by the agile approach, it has attracted not only the IT industry but also the public sector and governmental institutions. To better understand the agile principles, let’s take a look at how Indonesia is reforming its bureaucratic system and implementing new strategies.

Bureaucracy in Indonesia

Indonesia is one of the countries in ASEAN that already put some effort into being agile by reforming its bureaucracy. President Joko Widodo expressed this intention in his speech at the Sentul International Convention Center on July 14, 2019. He recommended structural reform “so that institutions are simpler, more agile.”

Indonesia has a total of 217 government agencies, 31 ministries, and 98 statutory agencies as of 2014, based on the data of the Institute of Public Administration Australia. In the World Bank’s Mapping Indonesia’s Civil Service report, Indonesia’s civil service has increased by 25 percent from around 3.6 million in 2006 to over 4.5 million in 2018. 

Bureaucracy bleeds several problems, ranging from corruption to low performance. The study “A Structural and Mindset Bureaucratic Reform Agenda for Jokowi’s Second Term.” published in May 2020, cited data from the Commission of Corruption Eradication (KPK) showing that in 2018, out of 2,357 civil servants who had committed corruption, only 891 were dishonorably discharged and 62 percent have not been fired and are still receiving salaries.

Indonesia’s six strategic steps

The bureaucracy culture of the Indonesian government can be traced back to its history of colonialism. But the country continues to aspire for reforms to give the public quality service. Its bureaucratic reform initiatives will be implemented according to the Grand Design of Bureaucratic Reform 2010-2025.

Bureaucratic reform, according to Indonesia’s “Regulation of Minister of State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reform Number: PER/15/M/PAN/7/2008 concerning General Guidelines for Bureaucratic Reform,” refers to a systematic process and carefully planned fundamental changes in government organizations that aim to achieve high performance in carrying out duties and efficiently implementing services, development, and governance.

Widodo instructed his cabinet to implement bureaucratic reforms based on the “Regulation of the Minister of State Apparatus Utilization and Bureaucratic Reform number 25 year 2021 regarding Simplification of Organizational Structure in Governmental Institution.” 

It consists of instructions in the form of a Circular Letter, which presents six strategic steps for every government institution as they reform their bureaucratic system.

  1. Identifying which echelon can be simplified according to each organizational structure;
  2. Mapping which structural role for echelon III, IV, and V in each unit that can be converted into functional roles;
  3. Mapping the functional roles needed by each institution to replace the structural roles;
  4. Adjusting the budget according to the new organization’s structure;
  5. Communicating the results to internals;
  6. Submitting the results to the Minister of State Apparatus Utilization and Bureaucratic Reform.

Indonesia’s bureaucratic system is loosening up to give way to an agile environment. An organization that is flattening its organizational structure is aiming for a more agile, adaptive , according to the paper “Cultivating Agile Organizational Culture: Addressing Resistance to Change in Bureaucratic Government Organizations.” 

The study states that in organizational flattening, “leaders allow subordinate units to operate with minimal higher level control, and prefer more collaborative interactions.”

Going agile: analysis and recommendations

Bureaucratic reform, when done right, could transform organizations and public services. For instance, the One Stop Service at the Investment and Integrated Licensing Service Agency (IILSA) in Puruan City is a result of reforms made in the administrative services licensing process.

For a country to exhibit agile governance, it has to listen to its constituents in an efficient manner. According to the article “Agile: A New Way of Governing” written by Ines Mergel, Sukumar Ganapati, and Andrew B. Whitford, agile administrations must welcome reforms and adapt to the changing environment, public values, and public needs. 

The authors stressed that agile governments must choose adaptive structure over hierarchies and silos and individual discretion over bureaucratic procedures. They also emphasized that consensual decision-making and trial-and-error approaches must take place for a government to be agile. 

To be adaptive, governments must introduce an approach where their decision-making structure is decentralized and bottom-up, according to the paper “Adaptive governance: Towards a stable, accountable and responsive government.”

Indonesia launched its decentralization process in 1999, encouraging participation in community and regional planning and involving citizens in local governance. However, Indonesia has yet to experience the full effects of decentralization. 

For example, in the area of public finance, decentralization is not being carried out properly due to two concerns, as stated in the report “Government Decentralization Program in Indonesia” released by the Asian Development Bank.” The first issue refers to “the capacity of subnational governments to produce public and private goods, increase productivity and employment, and promote economic growth in their jurisdictions, was not increased.”

The second concern is about the lack of training of financial managers, as required by the new laws of public treasury and auditing. 

To address those issues, the government must demonstrate flexibility. Mergel, Ganapati, and Whitford suggest that flexibility is crucial because agile is not confined to one finished product, service, or process and prioritizes continuous improvement instead. 

This is applicable in contracting processes. Traditional governments apply the waterfall model, but agile “requires a contract management approach that is flexible and stretches beyond a fixed-price, one-time project.”

Lastly, these public management reforms can only happen under a new style of leadership. In the IT industry, developers in an agile environment are expected to collaborate with business users. The same is true for agile governments, where leaders must serve and empower people. 

To learn more about how governments can measure and improve performance at all levels, visit The KPI Institute’s Center for Government Performance.

Economic forecasting – not an exact science. The Bank of England Forecast


Economic forecasting

An economic forecast refers to making prediction about the economy and identifying increasing, stagnant or declining trends. Economic forecasts are provided by international organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank, but also by national governments and financial institutions. Forecasting is based on series of KPIs like $ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), % Inflation, % Unemployment or $ Fiscal deficit.


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