Executive summary

Governments are prioritising the uptake of digital technologies, data and innovative practices across their public sectors. These tools and approaches have great potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of internal operations, interactions with numerous stakeholders and public services. Yet, governments often still struggle to tackle some of the long-standing complexities associated with the governance of digital government and the task of digitally enabling their administrations.

In this age of fast-paced disruption – rapid technological evolution, changing societal needs, unexpected crises – it is crucial to address how governments can best use digital technologies and data to increase productivity and resilience in their public sectors, and enhance the quality of public services in an inclusive, equitable, sustainable and trustworthy way. To achieve these aims, it is critical to establish the right institutional arrangements, co-ordination mechanisms and policy instruments to sustain the needed transformations in the long-term and overcome changing political priorities.

Becoming a digitally-mature government requires good governance as a foundation on which enablers such as digital identity, signatures and procurement strategies as well as accurate and interoperable data registries and public services that fully meet the needs of users can be built. This requires establishing sound governance principles, arrangements and mechanisms to shape and monitor actions upstream, while being transparent and responsible in the provision of public services and outcomes downstream. Such governance is particularly critical to ensure that the decisions taken by the government are coherent, consistent and co-ordinated across policy areas and levels of government.

Good digital governance in the public sector is also fundamental to building the competencies needed to operate in an increasingly complex and digital global context. The competencies required for governments to effectively transform the way they operate, meet the needs of people, and shape economic and societal changes through the use of digital technologies and data is vast and diverse. They include becoming digital by design, data-driven, capable to operate as a platform, open by default, user-driven and proactive, as noted in the OECD Digital Government Policy Framework (2020).

In this context, the OECD presents the OECD Framework on the Governance of Digital Government that identifies three critical governance facets to be considered when devising digital governance frameworks:

  • Facet 1: Contextual Factors to have a clear knowledge of country-specific characteristics and thus be able to define the most suitable governance principles, arrangements and mechanisms according to the political, administrative, socio-economic, technological, policy and geographical context;

  • Facet 2: Institutional Models and their different parameters (e.g. set-up, approach, leadership, role, responsibilities, co-ordination, collaboration) to guide the design and implementation of digital government policies and achieve a sustainable digital transformation of the public sector;

  • Facet 3: Policy Levers (including strategy, project management tools, financial management mechanisms, regulations and standards) to support the sound and coherent implementation of digital government strategies and use of digital technologies and data across policy areas and levels of government.

Following these three facets, the Handbook outlines critical policy issues and recommendations around key dimensions of governance of digital government, with a focus on promoting effective, open, participatory and innovative governments. For this, the OECD recommends that governments should adopt a comprehensive and holistic approach to the governance of digital government, establish the most suitable institutional models and policy levers, with priorities and emphases according to the specific context of the country. All in all, such governance should secure the clear and stable development and implementation of digital government strategies towards being a mature, digitally enabled state.


This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

Photo credits: Cover © Hurca/Shutterstock.com.

Corrigenda to publications may be found on line at: www.oecd.org/about/publishing/corrigenda.htm.

© OECD 2021

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at http://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.