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When your stakeholders are government departments — the ultimate data-sharing challenge

Becoming a truly digital government requires both technological and cultural change

Modernising data management systems can enable easier data-sharing and open possibilities for more valuable applications of data. However, siloed systems and divergent data management practices in government agencies can complicate data modernisation projects. Creating a cultural shift along with a technology change can ensure a more successful transformation that benefits the organisation and citizens.

Expert insight: “...Just putting a faster, shinier processing capability on existing processes doesn't always solve the challenges either. So we do put a lot of focus around not only the cultural transformation, but also the change management process.” 

Taka Ariga, US Government Accountability Office
Global agency recommendations*: The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has been working since 2014 to define and highlight best practices for leaders seeking to integrate digital services into government. The following list is a framework of essential characteristics that the OECD ascertained to be crucial for effective design and implementation of digital government strategies:

Digital by design: “Digitalisation” is considered not only as a technical topic, but a mandatory transformative element that is embedded throughout public policy and service processes.

Data-driven: Data are used and managed as key strategic assets in a trustworthy and secure way to generate public value throughout the public policy and service design and delivery cycles.

Government as a platform: Civil servants are able to focus on meeting the needs of users by working in an ecosystem that leverages shared and integrated tools and resources.

Open by default: Public policy processes, digital tools including algorithms and government data are made available for the public to engage with within the limits of legislation.

User-driven: Users are awarded a central role in shaping and informing public policy and service design and delivery processes, and this is conducted inclusively.

Proactiveness: Civil servants anticipate people’s needs individually and collectively and take steps to respond to them rapidly.

Implementing a data-driven modernisation strategy: A technological and cultural change

With the six elements of the framework above in mind, organisation leaders can begin to assemble the teams of internal and external partners necessary to create meaningful, valuable change to their technology stack and procedures. These updates can, and should, initiate changes to the organisation’s overall culture regarding everything from how data is captured, shared, and analysed, to how the organisation interacts with the public.

Updating digital technologies provides concrete benefits for both public sector organisations and the citizens they serve. Access to a wide range of up-to-date data can increase productivity for the organisation, and enhance the quality of public services in an inclusive, equitable, sustainable and trustworthy way.

Of course, modernising systems and procedures can create internal challenges. Patterns and processes of doing business are often entrenched in public sector agencies, but doing so also creates opportunities to maximise the value of data and increase the ROI of data infrastructure investments.

Digital transformation of the public sector

Demonstrating the value of data-sharing

Changing an organisation’s data-management process and culture requires commitment from all levels, and initially, there may be resistance to such sweeping change. Resistance may be caused by a perception of risk, but when benefits are shown to outweigh potential risks, reluctance can be transformed to advocacy.

When data is properly acquired and responsibly stored, there are a number of high-value applications where it can be applied to provide value to organisations, and serve the needs of citizens. And the benefits are multiplied when data is cooperatively shared among agencies and even into the private sector where appropriate.

AI technology coupled with data formatted for sharing opens the door to enhanced decision-making, improved service delivery, enhanced policy-making, and increased citizen engagement. It also optimises resource allocation, provides real-time insights and predictive analytics, and enables the delivery of personalised services.

Partnering to make use of experience and avoid pitfalls

Defining an actionable data modernisation strategy for government agencies that also meets strict data-sharing rules can be daunting, so it takes an experienced partner to help.

Making use of Open Source technology enables greater interoperability for data on-boarding, which can lead to smoother collaboration between government agencies and increased benefits for citizens. In addition, Open Source code is flexible, which allows for more efficient and secure product development and launch. It can also be updated easily as procedures, usage, and systems scale.

Nearform continues to work with governments around the world using Open Source technologies and frameworks to develop and launch innovative products such as citizen wallets, that can give citizens access to more services and eliminate or minimise the need for outdated infrastructure.

Insight, imagination and expertly engineered solutions to accelerate and sustain progress.