CITADEL and the Future of Government

The June 2018 CITADEL blog (https://citadel-h2020.eu/news/citadel-digital-government-scenario-part-i-new-shift-digital-government, https://citadel-h2020.eu/news/citadel-digital-government-scenario-part-ii-look-world-and-eu-situation, https://citadel-h2020.eu/news/citadel-digital-government-scenario-part-iii-what-does-digital-government-imply) discussed the differences between the e-Government and Digital Government taking into account a set of studies (e.g., World Economic Forum, OECD), strategies (e.g., EU) and indicators (e.g., World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index, European Union Digital Economy and Society Index), and the need for PAs, as recommended by OECD (OECD, “Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies”, 2014), to quickly deploy digital government strategies able to:

  • Assure greater transparency, openness and inclusiveness,
  • encourage engagement and participation of all stakeholders (i.e., public, private and civil society) in policy making and public service design and delivery,
  • address issues of citizens’ rights, organisation and resource allocation, adoption of new rules and standards, use of communication tools and development of institutional capacities to help facilitate engagement of all age groups and population segments,
  • identify and engage non-governmental organisations, businesses or citizens to form a digital government ecosystem for the provision and use of digital services,
  • create a data-driven culture in the public sector, by:
    • developing frameworks to enable, guide, and foster access to, use and re-use of, the increasing amount of evidence, statistics and data concerning operations, processes and results to (a) increase openness and transparency, and (b) incentivise public engagement in policy making, public value creation, service design and delivery,
    • balancing the need to provide timely official data with the need to deliver trustworthy data.

Digital Government strategies must also take into account that currently PAs, at all levels, operate in a context characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and a certain degree of ambiguity and that in this context must face important challenges such as the digital transformation, economic and social challenges, as well as technological and environmental changes.
If this is the situation, current structures, mechanisms and measures can no longer suffice. Constant innovation and the capability to imagine possible future scenarios, identify key elements and estimate impacts and corrective actions are the only way to respond to the expectations of communities and citizens.
To this end an interesting analysis is the one provided by the EU document The Future of Government 2030+ - A Citizen Centric Perspective on New Government Models (http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC115008/futurgov_web_lq_v2.pdf)
In the following a quick overview of these future scenario analyses are provided, followed by new recommendations by the OECD and on how CITADEL is set within them.

1    The Future of Government 2030+ scenarios

The FuturGov2030+ project is a joint action between the EU DG CNECT and the EU JRC aiming at exploring how the relationships between citizens and the government would evolve in the near decade, through the identification of emerging societal challenges and trends in our rapidly changing digital world, and fostering an EU-wide debate on the possible future government models.
The project intentionally explores new future forms of government that are driven by the needs of diverse stakeholders, without being constrained by today’s governmental forms and current strategies. The main question the FuturGov2030+ project tries to answer is “How will citizens, together with other actors, shape governments, policies and democracy in 2030 and beyond?”

Through a highly participatory process involving people and institutions in 6 EU Countries, four scenarios have been identified and analysed :
1.    DIY (Do It Yourself)  Democracy: characterised by decentralisation of power and self-organized communities,
2.    Private Algocracy: where giant digital companies hold the power over citizens and governments,
3.    Super Collaborative Government: with high level of collaboration and co-creation between citizens, governments and other stakeholders,
4.    Over-Regulatocracy: characterised by over-protection by the government through the creation of too many regulations with the help of technology.

1.1    DIY Democracy scenario

The 1st scenario can be characterised as a situation in which:
“The societal gap has increased; state power has diminished; public services have become very limited. However, citizens feel strong and empowered; they are engaged in the public life by co-creating DIY public services. Digitalization helps the grassroots initiatives to reach out widely, but people also consider offline physical gatherings and work important. Citizens’ participation in politics is strong at the local level and only transferred indirectly to the national and supra-national governments, who have to balance between the companies’ and citizens’ interests”.
The key drivers in this scenario have been identified as:

  • Increasing social gap
  • Decreasing financial capabilities of states
  • Rise of a sharing and caring society empowered by digital platforms
  • Decentralisation and atomisation of government

The following picture provides an overview of the key elements of this scenario.

Figure 1. DIY Democracy scenario (Source: The Future of Government 2030+: A Citizen-Centric Perspective on New Government Models)

1.2    Private Algocracy scenario

The 2nd scenario can be characterised as a situation in which:
“Individual data are collected everywhere mainly by monopolistic digital tech companies, because the implementation of GDPR and regulations of technologies, such as AI, that followed did not bring the expected results. Surveillance by private companies is strong and there is no transparency of their work. The logic of algorithm-based political decision-making processes and deals between government and companies are opaque. Citizens’ political interests are interpreted from their data profile”.
The key drivers in this scenario have been identified as:

  • Power accumulation of global digital giants
  • Advancements in data integration in an Internet of Everything (AI, IoT, Big Data, and new technologies)
  • Expansion of business ecosystems of the giant digital companies into public services
  • Decrease of democracy in public life
  • Decreasing role of democratic institutions, World Economic Forum taking over the role of the United Nations

The following picture provides an overview of the key elements of this scenario.

Figure 2. Private Algocracy scenario (Source: The Future of Government 2030+: A Citizen-Centric Perspective on New Government Models)

1.3    Super Collaborative Government scenario

The 3rd scenario can be characterised as a situation in which:
“The rise of AI in government and the concept of citizen centrism brought a government design. Open governments have a real-time understanding of socio-economic problems; public services can be offered predictively and individualized to citizens. Government is enabling seamless participation in decision making via virtual platforms. Citizens are sovereign over their data, privacy is key”.
The key drivers in this scenario have been identified as:

  • Technical advancements in AI and real-time Data Analytics
  • Push for open and innovative government
  • Push for Data protection and privacy
  • Increasing valuation of non-remunerated work
  • Increasing inclusion of citizens in governmental decision making

The following picture provides an overview of the key elements of this scenario.

Figure 3. Super Collaborative Government scenario (Source: The Future of Government 2030+: A Citizen-Centric Perspective on New Government Models)

1.4    Over-Regulatocracy scenario

The 4th and final scenario can be characterised as a situation in which:
“Leading digital platforms have been nationalized and put under the control of the democratic government. Social security is good, but difficult to get. Similarly, human rights are important but difficult to obtain. Citizens are relatively well informed, but tied up with bureaucracy. There is a constant criticism on how political institutions work and on over regulating everything, which prevents citizens from participating in political and social life. Trust in political institutions and media as well as the level of engagement are rather low”.
The key drivers in this scenario have been identified as:

  • Raising critique of the influence of global digital companies
  • Raising use of AI in policy making
  • Raising societal challenges leading to the need for strong socially protective policies
  • Needs for justification of public spending and accountability – raising bureaucratic hurdles

The following picture provides an overview of the key elements of this scenario.

Figure 4. Over-Regulatocracy scenario (Source: The Future of Government 2030+: A Citizen-Centric Perspective on New Government Models)

1.5    FuturGov2030+ project outcomes: Rethinking governments

The FuturGov2030+ project analyses highlighted as:

  • many democratic challenges are envisaged by citizens and must be faced,
  • it is crucial to be prepared to different futures and to identify actions able to avoid negative outcomes,
  • new governance approaches and strategies should be considered to rebuild trust of citizens and decrease political dissatisfaction,
  • government and PA roles will need to be revised to address issues of future societies,
  • traditional models of government are already being, and will be even more, challenged by new disruptive technologies (e.g., AI, IoT, big data). At the same time these technologies can provide opportunities for potential transformations of politics and decision making,
  • complex ethical and legal issues (e.g. surveillance, biases) must be considered to avoid negative evolutions (e.g., Private Algocracy scenario),
  • citizens must be engaged beyond traditional forms (e.g., voting or participating in consultations), to more unconventional and active forms,
  • citizens should be central, and PAs would need to engage them in dialogue and co-create policy initiatives so that the “knowledge of citizens and not only knowledge about citizens is included in policy creations”,
  • to make co-creation possible and effective, PAs need to create an “enabling environment” which is engaging, simple and effective to be hungry for citizens to participate in,
  • PAs need new practices and innovative strategies to tackle the emerging challenges. It is essential that PAs:
    • develop the culture of innovation,
    • promote openness and responsibility towards society,
    • deploy processes that offer more efficient solutions and be easier to use,
    • make better use of data, including open data and citizen-generated data,
    • user’s needs must be the key element for public services design and enhancement so that they are meaningful to users,
  • new literacies will be needed for the future “to enable citizens to participate in anticipatory decision making, recognising the context of uncertainty and complexity and building up individual and societal resilience to work collaboratively to address these. Cyber and data literacy will be important for everyone to understand better the potential and limitations of digital platforms, their underlying business models and their governance, in order to prevent society and government from being manipulated”.

The FuturGov2030+ project suggests that the dialogue between citizens and PAs is a priority that need to be further cultivated to better understand citizens’ concerns and offer solutions that respond to their actual needs. As reported in the project’s document “there is a general feeling among citizens with whom we talked that their voice is not heard by policy makers and that their opinion does not count, despite the fact that citizens are those electing policymakers”.

2    OECD Public Sector Innovation

In May 2019 the OECD formally adopted a Declaration on Public Sector (OECD, Declaration on Public Sector Innovation, OECD/LEGAL/0450 (https://oecd-opsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/OECD-Declaration-on-Public-Sector-Innovation-English.pdf)) that “aims to legitimise innovation as a core and strategic function of public sector organisations and in the day-to-day work of public servants.”

This declaration was endorsed by 35 OECD members (including many EU Countries) and 5 non-Members. The OECD objective is anyway broader aiming at supporting declaration’s adherents and other stakeholders to benefit from the Declaration by:

  • helping in “identifying, understanding, and providing policy recommendations for barriers and challenges to public sector innovation at system and organisational level”,
  • accompany stakeholders “in the design and deployment of system enablers (e.g. policy and legislation, networks, etc.)”,
  • collecting and sharing “evidence on ways the principles of the Declaration are implemented in Adherents, including bringing the voice of citizens on perceived impacts”,
  • supporting “organisations with bespoke interventions such as workshops on the purpose and use of the Declaration, capacity building, and best practices”,
  • advising “Adherents on creating platforms for articulating country-level discussions on the benefits and impacts of public sector innovation to improve citizen outcomes”.

The OECD suggested approach to innovation has been structured in 5 guiding principles that constitute the heart of the Declaration:

  1. Embrace and enhance innovation within the public sector: via adopting and promoting innovation in the PA through a constant attention, a fair investment of resources, a multidimensional approach, and promoting the decentralisation of functions and responsibilities;
  2. Encourage and equip all public servants to innovate: by encouraging all public sector workers to innovate and providing them the means to do so, even encouraging learning through errors, through the acceptance of the risks that every innovation involves and by providing clarity about the responsibilities;
  3. Cultivate new partnerships and involve different voices: by establishing new partnerships and listening to different points of view by correlating different actors, using already active formal and informal networks, paying attention to new needs and new ways to meet them;
  4. Support exploration, iteration and testing: via encouraging exploration and experimentation, and exploiting approaches that cover different aspects (e.g., technologies, risks management, costs) and that can enhance skills and knowledge via capturing learning that comes from exploration;
  5. Diffuse lessons and share practices: by spreading the lessons learned and the pooling of good practices and making available the lessons learned by encouraging contacts and knowledge sharing.

3    How CITADEL fits in

Both the JRC future scenarios and the OECD recent declaration:

  • stress the relevance of engaging stakeholders and set up effective and efficient co-creation processes that can take benefit of “knowledge of citizens and not only knowledge about citizens”,
  • the need to create an “enabling environment” to make co-creation possible and effective,
  • deploy processes that offer more efficient solutions and be easier to use,
  • make better use of data including open data and citizen-generated data,
  • helping in “identifying, understanding, and providing policy recommendations for barriers and challenges to public sector innovation at system and organisational level”,
  • accompany stakeholders “in the design and deployment of system enablers (e.g. policy and legislation, networks, etc.)”,

As highlighted on the CITADEL web site and deliverables, CITADEL focuses on supporting PAs in becoming more able to understand, transform and improve by providing specific methodologies, supporting ICT tools and an ecosystem which are in line with the objectives envisaged by the JRC and OECD analyses.