Designing and delivering user-driven public services in the digital age

As economies and societies grow increasingly digital, efforts to leverage technology and data to transform the delivery of services may lead to new forms of divides and exclusion. Similarly, a sector-based approach to digitalising services can increase fragmentation across administrations. Digital government and data policies can support a coherent and whole-of-government approach to designing and delivering omni-channel services that meet the final needs of users. The Digital Government Index (DGI) assesses and benchmarks the strategic use of digital technologies and data to enable service design and delivery in the digital age (see two-pager on “Digital government: Progress towards digital competence and maturity” in Chapter 10).

Shared tools and mechanisms enable interactions and integration across channels and organisations and hence maximise the potential of digital technologies to rethink, redesign and simplify services. In 2019, 27 out of 29 OECD countries (93%) had common interoperability frameworks, 25 (86%) had base registries and the same number had a shared ICT infrastructure. In addition, 26 out of 29 OECD countries (90%) possessed single digital identity systems, which allow users to identify themselves when using online services (Table 14.33). However, only 65% of countries have half of their services accessible through these systems.

People-driven approaches, which actively engage users in the design and provision of services, can have a transformative effect on governments’ capacity to respond to their needs. Only 14 of the 29 OECD countries in the DGI (48%) have formal requirements to engage users in service design (such as public meetings) and 8 (27%) in service delivery (for example, using mobile applications). People-driven approaches also involve engaging end-users to test and evaluate governments’ capacity to meet their needs. While 18 out of 29 OECD countries (62%) have specific policies on involving end-users in testing and evaluating digital projects/initiatives, only 15 (52%) have concrete activities in place to do so (for example, in design-thinking sessions). Even fewer countries (14, or 48%) use indicators to monitor user satisfaction with digital government services (Figure 14.34).

In 2019, Chile, Colombia and Norway were the only countries that combined formal requirements to engage users in designing and delivering digital services with concrete initiatives to test these services and monitor user satisfaction. Other countries took different approaches to understanding users’ perspectives. For example, Japan engages users at all stages, but does not monitor their satisfaction, while Belgium, Estonia, Korea, Lithuania and the Netherlands do not engage users, but do monitor their satisfaction with services.

Digital technology can also be used to enhance the inclusion of vulnerable population groups. In 2019, 18 out of 29 OECD countries (62%) reported using digital technology to drive efforts to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in service delivery, and 14 (48%) reported doing so for elderly people. Only 9 countries reported similar efforts to include women (31%), and 10 each (34%) to include minorities and citizens living abroad (see Online Figure G.41).

Further reading

OECD (2020), Digital Government in Chile – Improving Public Service Design and Delivery, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2020), “Digital Government Index: 2019 results”, OECD Public Governance Policy Papers, No. 3, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Figure notes

Data are not available for Australia, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.

Figure G.41. (Countries’ efforts driven by digital technologies to ensure and/or increase the inclusion and participation of selected groups in service delivery, 2019) is available online in Annex G.

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