This tool is designed to provoke conversations about capabilities and theories of change among digital service team members. Below are instructions to an exercise we’ve conducted with about 30 digital service teams around the world.

By David Eaves and Lauren Lombardo

The What and Why of the Digital-Services Maturity Model

In 2018 we released a maturity model designed to help public-sector digital-services units benchmark their capabilities. The model is designed to help digital-services teams talk and learn from one another. Outlined below is a simple exercise I’ve used with dozens of digital service teams around the world. It has led to helpful and important conversations. I’ve designed the exercises so that you can do them independently, but I’d be glad to provide support if you need it. The exercises are meant to enable teams to:

By Chris Lynch, Founding Director, Defense Digital Service, USA, with Lauren Lombardo, Harvard Kennedy School

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest bureaucracy on earth, employing more than 3 million civilians and members of the military. It has a global operating budget of $690 billion, and it manages the most technical and complex missions across the globe. It does all of this while being held captive to outdated products and services and relying on technology that lags behind U.S. private-sector standards.

In 2015, I co-founded the Defense Digital Service (DDS), an agency team of the U.S. Digital Service

By Daniel Abadie, Former Undersecretary of Digital Government, Argentina, with Luis Valles, Harvard Business School

When President Mauricio Macri took office on December 10, 2015, Argentina’s national digital-government strategy was fragmented, with more than 1,000 websites, all built in different technologies from different vendors, and most of its content was institutional information that was not relevant for citizens. We had three websites, each with its own how-to guide to explain the same government service — and all three explanations were wrong. We are one of many countries fighting to transition from an e-gov strategy to a digital one. President Macri…

By Pete Herlihy, Lead Product Manager, UK Government Digital Service, with Georges Clement, Harvard Kennedy School

In the summer of 2015 GDS started work on the delivery of cross-government platforms. We ran discoveries and alphas for things like taking payments, hosting, and sign-on.

Our minister wanted to provide a status-tracking platform — a simple way for citizens to track and trace an application (for benefits or a student loan, for example), a request, a purchase, or a payment in a few clicks — that would:

By Honey Dacanay, with Laura Nelson-Hamilton, Darren Chartier, Paul Vet, Christine Hagyard, Ebony Sager, Daphnée Nostrome, Amy Bihari, Dalia Hashim, Allyna Sagun, and Rachel Barton, Ontario Digital Service, Canada with Lauren Lombardo, Harvard Kennedy School

The Ontario Digital Service team. Standing, left to right: Jeroen Amin, Lester deLuna, Michael Kehinde, Darren Chartier, Allyna Sagun, Honey Dacanay, Rachel Barton, Ebony Sager, Pooja Narang, Dawn Edmonds, Christine Hagyard, Paul Vet. Seated, left to right: Dalia Hashim, Amy Bihari, Kelsey Merkley, Laura Nelson-Hamilton, Jen Snyder, Melvin Christopher. Not pictured: Daphnée Nostrome, Namita Sharma, Kim Monastyryj, Nikki Alabi


In 2017 the Ontario Digital…

By Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor and Leader of a2i, Bangladesh, with Melissa-Ann Gillies, Harvard Kennedy School

While a great deal of attention has concentrated on places like the United Kingdom and the United States and the narrative of drawing on talent from Silicon Valley, some of the most interesting and exciting work is being done in emerging economies. Some of these governments have advantages — fewer legacy processes and less existing technology makes it easier to design services — but many have made incredible strides while overcoming resource and talent constraints. …

Digital Innovation for Citizens and for the Development of the Country

By Emma Gawen, Public Digital

In 2012 a presidential decree created the Agency for Digital Italy (AgID) to lead the country’s digital transformation. It reports directly to the prime minister and was the only public agency in charge of the digital agenda until 2016, when Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who viewed AgID as underperforming, appointed Diego Piacentini as extraordinary commissioner for the digital agenda. The position was established by decree, and Piacentini was charged with creating a supporting team made of highly qualified technical specialists including computer scientists, engineers…

By Richard Pope, Formerly of GDS and Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School

“Government as a Platform” (GaaP) has come to mean many things to many people since the term was introduced by Tim O’Reilly in 2011. It has been called a route to better public services, a way to break down organizational silos, a toolkit for civil servants, an open platform to build upon, a new public infrastructure, a shorthand for coproduction of policy, and a harbinger of new institutions fit for the digital age.

In much the same way that the term “smart cities” is used to cover everything…

By David Eaves with Lauren Lombardo

In 2018, working Ben McGuire, a student here at Harvard Kennedy School, we released a maturity model designed to contextualize the progress of public-sector digital service units. The model, based on feedback from participants at our annual digital services convening and conversations from practitioners from around the world, attempts to enable people to assess a government’s capability to deliver digital services by looking at progress across six capacities: political environment, institutional capacity, delivery capability, skills and hiring, user centered design, and cross-government platforms.

Two exciting things have happened since the model was released. First…

Advocates of Digital Identity Platforms Need to Address Questions about Power and Authority Now

By David Eaves and Ben McGuire

In March of 2017, the World Bank announced a $100 million grant to the government of Morocco for the Identity and Targeting for Social Protection Project, which would “expand coverage of a Unique Identifying Number (UIN) for the Moroccan population and foreign residents, and to improve targeting of Social Safety Nets (SSNs)… [which] will particularly benefit women by facilitating their access to social and financial services.”

Like myself and many others, the World Bank is enthusiastic about the potential benefits…

David Eaves

Program Director of Digital@HKS and Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Thinking a lot about government & technology. Canadian.

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