Governance in the digital era now has the ambition to be citizen-centered: to improve public service delivery for residents by enabling coherent cross-institutional collaboration, information sharing and analysis.
Take the following case in point presented by the World Bank’s Global Director for Governance Global Practice, Arturo Herrera Gutierrez. In Mexico City, 2.5 million cars have been registered by the Secretariat of Finance. Their license plates have been issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Pollution tests are processed twice a year through a third database at the Environmental Secretariat. That’s three databases with three different data reports, not always producing the same statistics. The result was high management costs, and a confused mess that called for a consolidation by the Mexican authorities.
Mexico was not alone in this situation. It’s a scenario repeated the world over. It makes sense then that technologists lately have been joining forces with social data scientists, public policy analysts, political economists, lawyers and experts from other disciplines, aiming to dissolve institutional silos, streamline systems and processes, and enhance accessibility and accountability in service delivery. That is, in wonk speak, to promote the much hailed, far less realised ‘whole-of-government’ approach.
In Ukraine, tech is a lifeline to services. According to the World Bank’s Managing Director for Operations, Anna Bjerde, one app is providing 21 million people with access to digital IDs and passports, birth certificates and more than 70 government services. In Albania, 500 e-services are available on the e-Albania portal. In Argentina, 17 million people currently benefit from digital services, and 700,000 government staff have been trained on the country’s e-governance systems, the country’s Secretary of State for Public Innovation, Micaela Sánchez Malcolm, told the Forum. Every document in Argentina is digitised: notes, memos, files, resolutions, decrees. This applies to central, provincial and local governments. It’s completely paperless.
The stories demonstrating what’s possible went on and on at the Forum: using data analytics to combat tax evasion and fraud; deploying blockchain to improve public procurement; harnessing AI to do audits, detect welfare fraud, predict and manage disasters, save animals and build windmills…