Is Mandatory E-Government Possible?

By Steve Ressler, Founder of GovLoop 

Last month, I was about to attend a fascinating session at the 49th session of the Public Governance Committee at OECD in Paris entitled “Innovative Technologies for Improving Public Sector Governance.” Over the course of the day, there were a number of fascinating presenters, including Digital Mexico Group, Behavioral Insights Group from the United Kingdom, and many more.

But my favorite session was from Denmark about their mandatory e-government services program.

In 2011, Denmark launched its 2011-2015 eGovernment strategy. In this strategy, Denmark has moved a number of their core government services so that you have to do them online (yep, you can’t go to an office unless you have a waiver). It started with eight key services, moved to 28, and will be at 80 by end of year.

There were a number of compelling points from the presentation:

  • Denmark was able to save hundreds of millions of dollars by going to mandatory e-government services
  • By requiring mandatory e-government services, it forced the government to invest in these digital services and make the services world-class
  • By making the services world-class, more citizens were even happier. A virtual circle began.
  • Requiring e-government services forced them to invest more in digital training for the country
  • While lots of people complained at beginning, overall happiness in public services became even higher

The obvious question is, though: what to do about the digital divide? Denmark had an interesting approach:

  • Any individual could get a two-year waiver where they were allowed to complete these services in-person. By making you get a waiver, it focuses on the folks who truly can’t do digital
  • They allowed family members to transact for their elderly relatives (grandson for grandparents)

What do you think?  Should government mandate e-government services?


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