Glossary of terms

Accountability: A key concept in modern management theory and practice. It means that managers are held responsible for carrying out a defined set of duties or tasks, and for conforming with rules and standards applicable to their posts. Thus, the person or body to which the manager must report and answer for his or her actions are made explicit and he or she may be rewarded for good performance or suffer the consequences of inadequate performance. A manager of an organisational unit may also be held accountable for the actions of subordinate staff (OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms).

Administration of government: Government’s capacity to make and co-ordinate policy at the centre of government; to manage government records; and to communicate both across the administration and with the population. Administration of Government (also referred to as “Co-ordination at the Centre of Government”) is considered as one of the upstream executive functions essential and preliminary to the delivery of public services by the administration (UNDP and World Bank, 2017).

Artificial intelligence: An advanced computer programming language aimed at enabling computers to emulate the human mode of reasoning (OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms).

Base registries: Base registry refers to a trusted authentic source of information under the control of an appointed public administration or organisation appointed by government. According to the European Interoperability Framework, base registries are: “reliable sources of basic information on items such as persons, companies, vehicles, licences, buildings, locations and roads” and “authentic and authoritative and form, separately or in combination, the cornerstone of public services” (European Interoperability Framework).

Blockchain: A blockchain is a tamper-proof distributed database that is capable of storing any type of data, including financial transactions (OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2017).

Business case methodology/value proposition assessment model: A tool to assess and present the value proposition of an ICT project. It assesses value for money by comparing project costs and benefits. The use of business cases is considered essential, for example in IT project management frameworks, such as Prince2.

Central digital government policy/strategy (or national policy/strategy): Refers to the directives/principles that central governments define (e.g. through executive directive or decree, as a result of other overarching central policies, such as digital government, public sector modernisation or open government) to incorporate ICT as a priority for the public administration.

Cloud computing: Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services). It relies on the sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale, similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network. At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of converged infrastructure and shared services.

Core government functions: Minimum set of executive functions, which are essential and preliminary to the delivery of digital or non-digital public services. For countries in the process of transition and development, the trajectory of institutional and administrative development begins with the need to build or re-establish core administrative capacities in key domains of government, both upstream in the areas of public financial management, administration of government, management of the civil service and local government (where applicable); but also downstream, in the delivery of public services (UNDP and World Bank, 2017).

Data: A value or set of values representing a specific concept or concepts. Data become “information” when analysed and possibly combined with other data in order to extract meaning and to provide context.

Data-driven public sector: A government that is capable of anticipating societal trends, understands users’ needs, and transforms the design, delivery and monitoring of public policies and services through the management and use of data.

Digital by default (front office aspect): The decision of making the use of online platforms and channels either mandatory or the clearly preferred means for how citizens and businesses interact with the public sector (e.g. access to public services).

Digital by design (back office aspect): The extent to which a government embeds the full potential of digital technologies right from the start when formulating policies and designing services. For example, digitalising internal processes (“zero paper administration”) with the intent to rethink, re-engineer and simplify them and make service delivery efficient, inclusive and sustainable for citizens and businesses regardless of the channel used to interact with the public authorities (OECD Concept Note “Digital Government Framework).

Digital complementary skills: Initiatives implemented to encourage a digital mindset in the public workforce in order to increase awareness regarding the opportunities, benefits and challenges of the digital transformation of the public sector (OECD, forthcoming).

Digital divide: Economic and social inequality regarding access to, use of, or impact of ICT. The divide within countries may refer to inequalities between individuals, households, businesses, or geographic areas, usually at different socio-economic levels or other demographic categories. The divide between differing countries or regions of the world is referred to as the global digital divide.

Digital government: The use of digital technologies as an integrated part of government modernisation strategies to create public value. It relies on a digital government ecosystem comprised of government actors, non-governmental organisations, businesses, citizens’ associations and individuals that support the production of and access to data, services and content through interaction with the government (OECD Recommendation on Digital Government Strategies).

Digital professional skills: Initiatives to attract and maintain specialists in digital technologies in the public sector (e.g. managers of IT systems, programmers, web designers, data analysts) (OECD, forthcoming).

Digital user skills: Initiatives allowing the public workforce to properly use digital technologies and take the full benefit of digital productivity tools (e.g. email management, text processor, spreadsheets and databases) (OECD, forthcoming).

E-Government: The use by governments of ICT, and particularly the Internet, as a tool to achieve better government (OECD Recommendation on Digital Government Strategies).

Free and open software (FOSS): A software that can be classified as both free software and open-source software. That is, anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to voluntarily improve its design.

Fully transactional digital services: Service delivered through a set of seamless and fully digital or automated transactions that take place between people and public sector organisations, without the use of paper.

Government effectiveness: The government effectiveness indicator captures perceptions of the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government's commitment to such policies (World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators).

ICT projects: A project is a temporary undertaking that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more specified products. An ICT project is a project in which the use of ICT plays a significant part in the delivery of the specified products.

Institutional capacity: The functioning of public administrations; the co-ordination of stakeholders; strategy, vision and innovation; and the security of transactions and contracts, or the degree to which policy stability and bargains over time can be enforced (Institutional Profile Database, 2016).

Local governance: From a core government function perspective, the immediate objective of local governance is to: extend the legitimacy of the state through the outreach and engagement of central government via the sub-national administration; build confidence in the public administration by enabling resource distribution at the local level; signal efforts by the state to respond to pressing service delivery needs, in particular through the engagement of communities in local recovery processes; and address drivers of insecurity or conflict by expanding the engagement of the population in processes for decision making and the distribution of public goods (UNDP and World Bank, 2017). It also refers to the mission assigned to local governments, which are “institutional units whose fiscal, legislative and executive authority extends over the smallest geographical areas distinguished for administrative and political purposes” (OECD, Glossary of Statistical Terms).

Management of civil service: The basic governmental capacity to define and administer regulations and provide public services in a manner that accommodates the need to achieve the longer-term goal of an accountable, efficient and affordable public service (also referred to as “Government Employment and Public Administration”). Under this upstream executive function, special attention is given to public employment, compensation and the wage bill, to human resource management, and to training/capacity building within the civil service. Regarding legal provisions, the challenge is to ensure that the principles of professionalism, independence, integrity, political impartiality, transparency, and service to the public are enshrined into the legal framework, although implemented gradually (UNDP and World Bank, 2017).

Political stability: The functioning of political institutions, the influential organisations in public life, and the participation of the populations, or the extent to which diverse social, economic, and political viewpoints are incorporated into decision making (Institutional Profile Database, 2016).

Proactive delivery of services: An approach in which public sector organisations make the first move to serve or help the user customers. For example, organisations going out of their way to identify potential needs, rights and/or obligations in relation to public services, and then addressing the need or delivering the service before users need to ask for help/or for the service.

Proprietary software: Non-free computer software for which the software's publisher or another person retains intellectual property rights - usually copyright of the source code, but sometimes patent rights.

Public financial management: The legal and administrative systems and procedures put in place to permit government ministries and agencies to conduct their activities. These ensure the use of public funds meets defined standards of probity and regularity. These activities include the raising of revenue, the management and control of public expenditure and financial accounting and reporting, and, in some cases, asset management (OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms).

Social media: A group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010).

Strategy: A document (e.g. policy document, white paper) that defines the vision, objectives, goals, main actors, main actions and system of monitoring (indicators) for digital government (e.g. to guide and steer actions and decisions on investments, sustaining co-ordination and alignment with overall objectives and avoiding overlaps).

Transparency: An environment in which the objectives of policy, its legal, institutional, and economic framework, policy decisions and their rationale, data and information related to monetary and financial policies, and the terms of agencies’ accountability, are provided to the public in a comprehensible, accessible, and timely manner (OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms).

Use and reuse (of data): The terms use and re-use are adopted interchangeably. Use of data corresponds to a process through which raw data is transformed into a different output. This includes charts, tables, data visualisation tools, phone applications, as well as the reference of data in newspaper articles, academic papers and other types of publications. Use of data includes both personal use of data and commercial use of data.

User: A user of digital government services and (open) government data is understood as a citizen, a legal entity, such as businesses or non-governmental organisations, or a civil servant within the public sector itself. It is most commonly understood as a citizen or business.

User-driven or citizen-driven public sector: A government that adopts approaches and takes actions to let citizens and businesses determine and communicate their own needs and drive the design of policies and public services.

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