Digital governance (also known as e-governance, connected governance or online governance) is about public administrations adopting digital strategies to merge the governmental processes with information technology, to enhance the delivery of public services to citizens in a simple, moral, accountable, responsive and transparent (SMART) manner.
At the European level, consistent efforts are made to help public administrations employ digital technologies so that citizens can enjoy the benefits of smart public services during the Digital Decade. As part of the wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, digital governance is not about service provision alone; it also plays a role in strengthening digital literacy (SDG 4), digital inclusion (SDG 5, 8 and 10), digital connectivity (SDG 9), and digital identity (SDG 16).
Essentially, digital governance focuses on four areas of innovation:
- Internal process innovation – digital technologies are used to optimise bureaucratic processes, making them quicker, reducing staff and internal costs, generating savings and improving transparency and accountability.
- Governance innovation – the emergence of new digital tools that empower citizens and other stakeholders to contribute to the creation of public value, better awareness of political and policy issues, and easier access to the exercising of democratic rights.
- Policy innovation – digital technologies are used to improve policy making, from agenda setting, to implementation and budgeting, to policy evaluation (i.e., effective, productive, economically valued decision making; direct citizen engagement; data-based responsive public services, smarter implementation of law enforcement).
- Service innovation – the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, cloud computing, blockchain, predictive analytics, Internet of Things and their combination, create opportunities for higher quality and cost-saving public services.