Digital Governance Policy Dialogues - Institute on Governance

Helping you keep pace with the speed of digital change 

What is digital governance and why is digital technology a governance issue? 

Digital governance may well be the central challenge facing governing institutions and societies in the coming decades where no one owns information, power is dispersed and authority and accountability need to be re-conceived. Governments must increasingly navigate technological, geo-political and economic volatility, while meeting rising expectations for speed, efficiency, fairness and accountability. Governments likewise face the challenge of addressing radical changes in citizen expectations, diffusion of traditional authority, new and unprecedented challenges to government policy, and perhaps most importantly, a pace of change that far outstrips the traditional processes of policy development and legislation. While the Westminster system is widely credited with a high capacity to adapt to societal evolution, 21st century realities are putting this claim to the test. 

We dive into the challenges and opportunities facing public institutions in the digital age. 

We explore emerging 21st century issues of governance from a range of vantage points, produce focused analytical insights designed for policy practitioners as well as wider intellectual contributions on the evolving nature of government. Our goal is to generate insights that will improve the ability of state and society to succeed in 21st century conditions by providing clarity and vision in otherwise challenging circumstances. 

Will government merely survive this period of disruption or has the capacity to thrive in emerging conditions. 

The Digital Governance Webinar Series 

In 2020 we brought you the Digital Governance Webinar Series. In collaboration with leading experts and policy makers from Canada and Internationally, we explored critical digital governance issues that are becoming increasingly important for governments around the world, particularly given the impact of COVID-19 in accelerating digital trends in all parts of society.  

The purpose of the series was simple: to bring together digital government leaders and experts to share their insights and facilitate frank and insightful discussions about how to accelerate the digital government movement forward in the months and years to come. Together with 15 panelists from across Canada and around the world, and nearly 1500 participants representing more than 140 organizations, we looked deep into some of the digital governance issues that consistently surface as being amongst the most challenging for policy makers. In collaboration with Publivate, an Ottawa-based digital engagement company, we offered these participants an engagement platform as an additional way to engage before, during, and after each of the webinars in this series. 

Given the richness of our discussions during the webinar series, we have decided to work to produce a public discussion paper that will highlight potential paths for governments to take and practical recommendations to address the digital governance issues that were identified both through the series and our broader digital leadership work at the IOG. 

An evolution of our annual Digital Governance Forum, in the spring of 2019, we hosted the Future Forum. Together, thought leaders from around the world discussed how government can mitigate risks and take advantage of the opportunities coming with the new industrial revolution.

The conference featured upwards of 50 speakers and over 200 participants from the commanding heights of industry, public administration, government and research, both in Canada and internationally. The two-day event hosted decision-makers, public intellectuals, academics, and industry leaders to address important policy issues stemming from new technologies. We sought to not only to affect a paradigm-shift among participants, but to create an environment where solutions can begin to emerge. 

 Democracy and Public Service in Changing Times: Citizen Interaction with the Evolving Centre of Government 

 There are different theories about how “the centre” of government relates to other state and legislative institutions. The most popular comes from Donald Savoie, who suggests that a growing concentration of power at “the centre” detracts from government effectiveness and the quality of democracy. A contrasting vision comes from Ian Brodie who proposes that power is not substantially concentrated in the centre and, to the degree that this concentration exists, it is a necessary function of government. 

This study probes these dynamics using public opinion data generated from artificial intelligence-backed research methods from Advanced Symbolics. It uses these advanced research methods to identify the degree to which public opinion diverges or aligns with debates about “the centre’s” relationship with other governmental organs. It also seeks to demonstrate how the new tools becoming available to political scientists and policy practitioners alike can be put to use to solve challenging questions of state. 

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