USAID’s Digital Government Model: Supporting Countries Toward Prosperity
Published on July 21, 2022
In the field of international development, organizations often focus on short-term goals and projects that are intended to improve the quality of life in a community or country.
However, these efforts can be less effective when organizations lack the holistic, long-term planning and support to continue them over time.
One organization that has provided this support to developing countries is USAID (United States Agency for International Development).
In an effort to promote best practices in digital government, USAID has created a digital government model.
In order to achieve their mission of working with developing countries on global development initiatives, they’ve implemented an innovative digital government model that utilizes new technologies and strategies to bolster sustainability in local communities and governments around the world.
Is a model for digital government important?
In today’s global economy, it is more important than ever for countries to have a digital government model in place.
A digital government can help a country be more efficient and effective in its operations, as well as provide citizens with easy access to government services.
However, there is no common standard or definition in the development community of digital government, nor is there an agreement on its principal components.
An international model will be able to set the stage for future research
cross USAID on digital government under the Digital Strategy.
The tangible components that comprise digital government according to this model?
The model outlines how governments and public agencies can use information and communication technologies to improve internal processes and systems.
USAID’s digital government model includes these components as essential for e-administration:
- Digital databases
- Data storage solutions
- Management information systems (MIS)
- E-procurement systems
2. E-service delivery
E-service delivery includes the digitalization of government service provision.
By making government services more accessible and effective, and efficient, USAID hopes to support countries in their journey toward digital prosperity.
Examples of e-service delivery include:
• Government portals and mobile apps. They provide access to public information and services, giving the stakeholders the ability to carry out administrative procedures online;
• Digital payments. A unified platform can help governments improve public financial management, increasing payments’ efficiency. This is also critical for the transparency of these payments to and from government bodies.
• Digital identification (ID) systems. These systems have the potential to provide individuals with the ability to prove their identity in a secure manner while also providing them with a unique ID number that facilitates data exchange across government systems.
However, it is fundamental that digital ID systems are designed around inclusivity too and with meaningful consent processes.
Investments in digital government may have several risks and may intentionally or unintentionally cause repression, restriction, or exclusion.
That’s why digital ID systems should only be implemented in those countries with robust data protection, privacy regulations, and policies.
Consistent enforcement of these regulations and policies is also a must.
E-participation includes digital channels and platforms through which stakeholders can collaborate with each other and with government institutions.
It allows for more effective communication and coordination among all actors, as well as more informed and engaged citizens.
This focus is to help countries move toward more open, accountable, and responsive governance.
This is doable through:
- Citizen and voter education
- Government-supported incubation hubs
- Open data portals
- Political participation mechanisms
- Citizen science initiatives
That’s how it’s possible to increase efficiency and effectiveness in delivering public services and boost citizen engagement in the democratic process.
4. Enterprise architecture enables digital government
Enterprise architecture (EA) is a critical enabler of digital government.
It allows technical components to work together to support the business goals of the government.
EA also provides a framework for decision-makers to assess, select, and implement new technologies.
Comprehensive enterprise architecture enables the integration of systems and shared services across government agencies.
This requires robust connectivity infrastructure and devices across government bodies operating at the national, regional, and local levels.
USAID is increasingly looking to support countries in the process of adopting technologies to create public value while mitigating and avoiding significant risks.
While this digital government model doesn’t really replace existing reference frameworks, it provides a shared understanding of the key components of digital government.
Think of it as a strong base that will (and must) evolve to reflect all the challenges that countries worldwide have faced in recent years.
About the Author
Mohammad J Sear is focused on bringing purpose to digital in government.
He has obtained his leadership training from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK.
After a successful 12+ years career in the UK government during the premiership of three Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, Mohammad moved to the private sector and has now for 20+ years been advising government organizations in the UK, Middle East, Australasia and South Asia on strategic challenges and digital transformation.
He is currently working for Ernst & Young (EY) and leading the Digital Government practice efforts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is also a Digital Government and Innovation lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po, France.
As a thought-leader some of the articles he has authored include: “Digital is great but exclusion isn’t – make data work for driving better digital inclusion” published in Harvard Business Review, “Holistic Digital Government” published in the MIT Technology Review, “Want To Make Citizens Happy – Put Experience First” published in Forbes Middle East.
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