The role of e-government in the public sector: which viable solutions?
The development of e-government has played a crucial role in promoting digital innovation and serving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, particularly Goals 16 and 17. E-government is now an essential feature of governance, playing a central role in how decision-makers operate at virtually all levels. Its relevance will continue to grow in providing public services, responding to crises and emergencies, and reinforcing digital cooperation and collaboration at the national level. Many countries have already strengthened their institutional and legal frameworks for e-government development. On top of this, most of them have adopted - even in some preliminary forms - a national digital government strategy, legislation on cybersecurity, personal data protection, open government data, and e-participation approaches.
The most notable expansion of overall value for global e-government development in 2022 is mainly attributable to progress in online services provisions, especially social protection. Indeed, the number of countries with national portals that allow users to apply for benefits such as maternity care, child subsidies, pensions, housing, and food allowances has grown by 17% since 2020. However, despite investments in technology and development gains in many countries, the digital divide persists.
The private sector is a significant factor in digital transformation, which has accelerated its role due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the private sector has raised the level of customer experience, the public sector has lagged in digital capabilities. The existing institutions are not designed for rapid adaptation to sudden changes or unexpected societal crises. The only way governments can survive in the digital era is to embrace change and create a culture of innovation.
Policymakers must create a more symbiotic public-private innovation ecosystem to ensure more opportunities for private sector engagement in innovation. Furthermore, governments should promote and strengthen this ecosystem by investing more in research and development. Digital transformation in the public sector is not just about improving process efficiencies in government organizations but also playing a crucial role in strengthening public services provision and opportunities for community engagement.
Governments need to find new ways of empowering members of society and engaging them in development discussions and decision-making. One solution can be making government data, information, and digital resources readily available to the public. This strategy is crucial for improving administrative operations and public services delivery, engaging with communities, and building trust.
Another suitable solution can be found in cloud computing. This technology allows government agencies to simplify and optimize the management of IT resources and facilitate the adoption of new digital technologies. However, before adopting these solutions, governments must develop a national strategy that identifies which cloud best supports data-driven government operations, allowing for complete control over data and services. The utilization of shared infrastructure characterizes the public cloud and provides an almost unlimited computing capacity. Furthermore, many governments are exploring a hybrid model, integrating the public and private cloud in a single ecosystem of interconnected environments.
To conclude, innovation and technology are increasing their relevance even in the context of the public sector. Several governments which have already embraced this trend are now experiencing numerous positive outcomes. Digital solutions focused on open access data and cloud computing are extremely useful, and governments are expected to deal with citizens' issues by including them to participate in public life actively.