CITADEL in the Digital Government Scenario. Part I - The new shift: Digital Government.

As our society is undergoing a huge transformation in these years, also Public Administrations (PAs) at all levels must undergo an even more profound transformation. Indeed the European Union Europe 2020 strategy envisages as one of the key priorities the modernisation of PAs to support EU economic growth, shifting the PAs role from the traditional policy making, implementation, service provision and regulation, to  act also as investors and procurers, able to play a role in improving the competitiveness of our society, facilitating its growth and the creation of jobs.

Therefore, PAs must not only adopt new technologies and interaction patterns, but also heavily revise their roles and approaches. Traditionally PAs had defined services and procedures to which citizens and companies had to keep to; then PAs, via the adoption of ICT, moved to what is known as e-Government in literature, while now PAs have to move to what is called Digital Government. Between these two approaches there are huge differences as clearly stated by the OECD (“Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies”, 2014):

  • “e-Government refers to the use by the governments of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and particularly the Internet, as a tool to achieve better government”
  • “Digital Government refers to the use of digital technologies, as an integrated part of governments’ modernisation strategies, to create public value. It relies on a digital government ecosystem comprised of government actors, non-governmental organisations, businesses, citizens’ associations and individuals which supports the production of and access to data, services and contents through interactions with the government”.

In e-Government, therefore, technologies were used to automate and improve existing processes, while in Digital Government modern technologies must be used to support new ways to identify, deliver and manage new services and development strategies, shifting from an approach able to anticipate citizens’ and businesses’ needs (citizen-centric approach), to an approach in which citizens and businesses determine their needs and address them in partnership with PAs (citizen-driven approach). This can also be flagged as a shift from transaction-based engagements to relationship-based ones.New methodologies and modern technologies must be identified and deployed to adapt PAs capacities, workflows, operations and strategies to the quickly evolving dynamics and relationships among the stakeholders.