Government Summit partners with Oxford Analytica to launch report on ‘networked government’

DUBAI, 8th February, 2015 (WAM) — In partnership with the Government Summit, Oxford Analytica, an international consulting firm, has launched a report that examines the concept of networked government, which places users at the centre of service delivery.

The report also identifies the characteristics of today’s top performers in networked government, and explores the future direction and challenges in its successful implementation.

The summit focuses on innovation as a foundation of the development and modernisation, and it plays important role in improving the effectiveness of government performance, to achieve the vision of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in defining the summit as the prominent global platform in government development, and towards achieving the goals of UAE’s Vision 2021.

The launch of the report comes in line with the Summit’s agenda and objectives to discuss the next generation of future governments, and the world’s most important variables in government development. The report explores the possibilities of leveraging technology and innovation to improve the lives of people and strengthen the effectiveness of the government’s performance.

Networked government, which marks the next phase of e-government transition, encompasses the complete electronic integration and personalisation of services between government and other stakeholders.

To achieve the effective implementation of networked government, the report underlined the importance of enhancing the ability to collect and publicly share multiple forms of data across different channels, including email, SMS, website sites and social media.

As networked government evolves, the emphasis on a virtual, non-physical interaction between a government and its stakeholder will serve to further understand user needs and, ultimately, transform the effective formulation of policies, the report added.

The report states that as technology developed, so did the capabilities of governments to interact with multiple stakeholders. The concept of e-government has already gone through four distinct phases. The first is Information – where governments electronically display information in the public domain and share information between departments. The second is Interaction – where governments and other stakeholders electronically interact directly with one another. The third is Transaction – whereby entire interactions and services are executed remotely including application for passport, renewing visa voting and filing tax forms. However, security remains a major obstacle in electronic service delivery and transactional services tend to be limited to Internet-enabled laptops and desktops. The final phase is Transformation marked by complete electronic integration and personalisation of services between government and other stakeholders. Now, there is a single point of contact for all government services and transactions to be completed across multiple platforms.

Finland is one of the leading countries in enhancing citizen participation and public sector engagement through user experience testing and design. Over 80% Finnish citizens use online services to interact with the public sector. This adoption rate represents, in many respects, ‘full-spectrum’ citizen-centrism and is rooted in a strong tradition of open, participatory government. The concept of citizen-centric policy design is found throughout the Finnish Constitution, the Local Government Act and other legislations as far back as the early post-war period. Additionally, Finnish citizens are typically very receptive to change and modernisation, making innovation in governance more readily adopted by the public.

The report, however, said the variance in physical access to the internet and the wide differences in the levels of citizen capabilities, often described as the “digital divide”, pose the potential risk of creating fragmented, inequitable delivery of future government services. It therefore identified three critical factors for the successful implementation and operation of networked government solutions: Access to technology and the ability to understand how to use it Participation, which involves nurturing engaged citizenry and continuous interaction with providers and Service delivery in the correct format, delivered via appropriate platforms.

In Singapore, the aftermath of the global financial crisis and subsequent recession encouraged the government to rethink its networked government strategy. The government is now determined that procuring aanced technology would help reduce redundancy across departments (and alleviate fiscal pressures), improve responsiveness and spur private-sector innovation.

On the back of its high-speed broadband network, the government has invested in cloud technology to unify its ICT environment and empower agencies to design and develop applications centrally and remotely. Additionally, through a central authority responsible for enterprise architecture, the government increasingly uses the cloud to integrate processes across agencies and interact with the public in ways that save time and money.

The Oxford Analytica report said the implementation and delivery of networked government will also depend on the levels of policy initiative, infrastructure investment and stakeholder engagement. It said leading networked governments are likely to be those that have personalised and improved usability of online service interaction and delivery, and integrated government services into private technological platforms. Such governments would also have assimilated multiple service channels into a seamless flow of information and enabled multi-channel feedback and service delivery to ensure universal access and participation, it added.

The report made a number of organisational policy recommendations such as holding government staff accountable for user ratings as part of the annual review process, appointing a Chief Technology Officer or Chief Information Officer for overseeing networked government solutions as well as identifying global best practices and benchmarking service delivery metrics.

It also made technological policy recommendations such as ensuring the use of polling and evidenced-base policymaking when designing, implementing and operating public services, acquiring the internal capabilities necessary to analyse user data, and developing service tools that promote active participation in policy design.