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The importance and challenges of the digital government

The importance and challenges of the digital government

Café Public - First edition


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On October 5, 2015, KPMG organized the first Café Public. Café Public is an initiative by the KPMG Line of Business Public Sector, during which national and international guest speakers discuss the major challenges for the Belgian federal, regional and local authorities in a panel discussion. 

During this initial edition, the digital government, its importance and the challenges attached to it were the subjects of a more in-depth discussion. The new governing agreements contain clear departure points for further digitalization of the government, particularly in terms of the service provision to the public and the business community. From 2016 onwards, for example, the use of e-invoicing will be mandatory for government services, e-procurement will become rule and the government will make a partial start with the automatic assignment of social rights and rates (MyCareNet, third-party payor). The government services are expected to make digital working the new standard (cf. ‘radically digital’), although this requires drastic transformations.

The seminar kicked off with an explanation by Anthony Van de Ven (Partner, KPMG Advisory) about the five main challenges to achieve a digital government. The first challenge: ‘digital first’ or ‘digital by default’, i.e. the transition from traditional to digital channels. The second is creating an image of ‘a single government for the
public’. The challenge here is making the switch to ‘customer-centric’ thinking, in which customer orientation is the focal point. This ‘public-centric’ thinking at the same time is the third challenge in which ‘all’ government services are organized and projected from the public’s perspective. As soon as all services apply a customer-oriented approach on the basis of a single government image, the public and companies must be able to quickly and efficiently find the service or information they are looking for. A requirement for achieving these objectives is streamlining the operation of the different government services. There is a need for a consistent approach in which clear priorities and standards are applied.

Next, international guest speaker Hans van der Stelt was invited. He is Director of the Netherlands Bureau of the National Commissioner for Digital Government, also referred to as the Digi Commissioner. The latter was appointed by the Dutch government to set up a program for the expansion of a digital government – for now and in the future. Various digitalization plans have already been set up, such as Digital 2017, iAgenda and Municipalities 2020. The challenge for the Digi Commissioner is to find the common central theme within these programs and to coordinate them. According to Mr Van der Stelt, there is no lack of initiatives. What is important now is to make the transfer to the actual implementation, so that at the end of 2017 the public and companies can request the assistance of a digital government more often.


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