Every day, governments face complex challenges—from driving mission effectiveness and delivering public services to addressing policy issues and spurring economic development. These are significant tasks in themselves. Yet demographic trends, digital technologies, citizen expectations and budget limitations complicate them further.
A new way of thinking—and working
Forward-thinking governments recognize that old ways of working often hold them back. Many are finding that they do not always have to go it alone in delivering public services. After all, digital technologies are powering a whole new era of collaboration and data sharing with platform-based business models at the heart of it all.
As agencies act with other public organizations—and with businesses, NGOs and even citizens themselves—to reinvent public service delivery, platforms are providing the technology backbone to institutionalize and enable new collaboration. This is the essence of government as a platform. Still in the early days, government as a platform is gaining momentum as four distinct models take shape.
Four government as a platform models
The whole of government platform is best suited for governments that have created a clear, centralized responsibility for digital and public services transformation at the national/state level. Examples include Government Digital Service in the United Kingdom and Digital Transformation Office in Australia. Norway is exploring ways of using the Altinn platform for increased collaboration with businesses and civil society, such as crowdsourcing activities.
Peer platforms are a good fit for countries that lack a common platform for public digital services and are looking for improved delivery in narrower policy fields that involve several public agencies, often on both federal and state and local levels.
Well suited to support such plans, the ecosystem platform is best for countries with complex public service ecosystems and stakeholders looking to address complicated policy issues that cannot be handled by a single service provider such as youth unemployment or training.
This platform is suited for countries in which new policy issues demand innovative problem solving with civil society on complex and often global issues. One example is the United States Agency for International Development Grand Challenge for fighting the Ebola epidemic. Another is the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) open platform “UNHCR Ideas,” which invites ideas for improving the lives of refugees.