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Main Address: Shaping Future Governments

10 February 2015


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Only transparency and innovation will restore trust in government, says Kiviniemi

Technology has become an important enabler in the way citizens interact with the government, said Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The trust of people and communities in governments will be restored only by transparency and innovation. 
Delivering a main address titled ‘Shaping future governments’ at The Government Summit 2015, Kiviniemi said future governments must be increasingly data-driven and that technology needs to be citizen-driven, scalable, and experimental in order to usher in an era of change. 

Government’s ability to innovate will depend on a culture of openness and transparency in the various functioning of government departments and in the process of dissemination of data. Kiviniemi said innovation growth cannot be achieved if information is not shared openly.

Governments must have a strong and transparent digital strategy, enabling departments and citizens to communicate openly with each other, she said.

Kiviniemi said OECD countries have agreed on policy recommendations for developing digital strategies, which help address and change the functioning of several government issues. The OECD has reviewed public governance techniques by means of digital strategies in countries like Estonia and Finland. She praised the Estonian e-governance system, saying the country has done remarkably well considering its population, weather conditions, and socio-economic conditions.

She suggested that instead of making heavy investments in ICT, results are better achieved if a strong framework of laws, infrastructure, and ample training is provided to government entities to empower administration. This process will result in the creation of policies and streamlining of data that will ensure improved social security and better education for the country’s students.

A shift towards change cannot happen without the presence of a strategic approach that defines clear roles and incentives, and provides strong leadership at all levels of governance, Kiviniemi said. The country needs to have a leadership that understands which policies can help solve problems.

She also suggested that governments must involve citizens and the private sector in its developmental plans, thereby creating solutions in partnership. Involvement of these two will result in harnessing ideas and development of solutions.

She added that policymakers should never shy away from innovating and experimenting with new ideas. She suggested that involving citizens in the development process of a country will empower them, making them more proactively involved in working towards the overall betterment of the country.

Kiviniemi repeatedly insisted on the importance of keeping public data transparent and easy to access. She invited all attendees to have a look at the online OECD 'Observatory of Public Sector Innovation', which offers solutions for government. The innovation portal categorizes case studies and innovation ideas of different OECD nations that can help decision-makers in government sectors.