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Let’s leverage data and technology to make society and government work better for everyone.

Author: Naeha Rashid, Fellow, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School

Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted and extracted from the first three chapters of a larger work, “Deploying the Once-Only Policy: A Privacy-Enhancing Guide for Policymakers and Civil Society Actors”. A more detailed discussion of the various topics introduced here can be found in the final guide.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed to many countries the inadequacies of their existing digital infrastructure. In a world where face-to-face contact is dangerous and severely curtailed, the need for more and better digital government services provided at low…


Authors: Michael Wilkening, Special Advisor on Innovation & Digital Services to California Governor Gavin Newsom; Nagela Nukuna, Master in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School and Master in Business Administration, MIT Sloan; James Hutt, Special Student, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Introduction

Much has been written about the benefits of agile procurement as a means of avoiding high-profile technology procurement mishaps. Beyond cost savings and improved reliability, there are other benefits to governments taking on central integration roles in technology projects. The government is better able to retain control of personal data and — over time — advise vendors based…


Authors: Arthi Vish, Digital, Data, and Technology Talent Consultant; Imara Salas, Master in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School 2021

Governments around the world face a shortage of digital skills. It is generally assumed that some of the factors driving this gap are salary, career prospects, and cultural differences between the public and private sectors. To counter this trend, the United Kingdom implemented the Digital, Data, and Technology (DDaT) Professional Capability Framework, a template of standardized digital skills required across the civil service. This article traces the creation of the DDaT Framework as part of the UK government’s efforts to facilitate…


Authors: Blanka Soulava, Master in Public Policy 2021, Harvard Kennedy School; Naeha Rashid, Fellow, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the need for global digital service delivery. Critical pandemic relief services such as track and trace programs, emergency cash transfers, and telemedicine were possible only in those countries that had a sufficiently strong digital backbone. Moreover, the need for digitized services is not likely to abate. As some participants highlighted during the 2020 Digital Services Convening, in the future digital service groups will be expected to deliver increasing value to citizens…


Authors: David Eaves, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Tom Loosemore, Partner, Public Digital; Lauren Lombardo, Master in Public Policy 2021, Harvard Kennedy School

A recurring question from every Digital Services Convening is how to help digital service groups effect change. While success on individual projects is important, scaled impact through shifting practices and behaviors across the government is the bigger goal. This paper seeks to share learnings garnered through interviews, surveys, and the discussion at the 2020 convening regarding the different levers digital teams use (or aspire to use) to push change across the enterprise.

To explore, identify…


Authors: Ville Sirviö, Chief Executive Officer, Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions; Petteri Kivimäki, Chief Technology Officer, Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions

Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions (NIIS) is a nonprofit association established in 2017 by the governments of Estonia and Finland. Its mission is to ensure the development and strategic management of X-Road® and other cross-border components for e-government infrastructure. NIIS is both a network and cooperation platform and executioner of IT developments in members’ common interests. NIIS focuses on practical collaboration, sharing of experience, and promotion of innovation.

What Is X-Road?

X-Road is an open-source software and ecosystem solution that provides unified…


Authors: Spencer Daniels, Senior Product Manager, Ontario Digital Service; Lauren Lombardo, Master in Public Policy 2021, Harvard Kennedy School

In early 2020, when governments and digital service teams were at the forefront of the coronavirus crisis, Alberta Health Services (AHS) created a COVID-19 self-assessment tool to prevent emergency services from being overwhelmed and reassure the population. The product launched with great success, and within 24 hours over 300,000 people were using the tool, according to internal metrics. The high rate of adoption — in a province with about 4.3 …


Authors: David Eaves, Lecturer in Public Policy; Harvard Kennedy School; Lauren Lombardo, Master in Public Policy 2021, Harvard Kennedy School; Nicolas Diaz 2020, Master in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Open-source communities have existed in nongovernment spaces for over 40 years. Many of these communities organize around a proposed solution and over time create their own community engagement practices and governance models, or sets of rules, customs, and processes that outline how decisions are made.

Governments have become interested in emulating the success of these communities and have begun using and participating in open-source. As governments share more code, they…


Authors: Cina Lawson, Minister of Posts, Digital Economy and Technological Innovation, Government of Togo; Shegun Adjadi Bakari, Senior Advisor to the President of Togo; Beatriz Vasconcellos, Master in Public Administration and International Development 2021, Harvard Kennedy School

Editors’ Note: On October 1, 2020, the Ministry of Posts, Digital Economy and Technological Innovation (MPENIT) was renamed to the Ministry of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation (MENTD).

Background

Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, countries had to act fast to provide social security payments to workers. In developing countries such as Togo, which figures among the top 10 percent of poorest countries in the…

Lauren Lombardo

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