Going Digital: A holistic approach to policymaking in the digital age

Molly Lesher Speeches

Economies, governments and societies across the globe are going digital. About half of the world’s population is now connected to the Internet, up from 4% in 1995. In many countries, digital transformation is now characterised by almost universal connectivity, but also by ubiquitous computing, and draws on the generation and use of vast amounts of data.

Technologies continue to develop rapidly and are combining in novel and innovative ways, pushing digital transformation in new and often unpredictable directions. Together, governments and stakeholders must shape a common digital future that makes the most of the immense opportunities that digital transformation holds to improve people’s lives and boost economic growth for countries at all levels of development, while ensuring that nobody is left behind.

Since digital transformation is transversal, the policy response must be holistic. Digital transformation affects many aspects of the economy and society in complex and interrelated ways, challenging existing policies in many areas. As a result, silos are disintegrating, and hard borders are becoming less relevant. This means that stronger co-operation and collaboration are critical, as well as a re-think about how policy is developed and implemented.

In particular, a flexible, forward-looking and integrated policy framework that cuts across policy silos is essential to ensuring a coherent and whole-of-government approach to fully realise the potential of digital transformation and address its challenges. Under the auspices of the OECD’s Going Digital project, the OECD is developing such an integrated policy framework. It includes seven building blocks – Access, Use, Innovation, Trust, Jobs, Society and Market Openness – that are supported by quantitative indicators and practical policy guidance.

Not only do governments need an integrated policy response to digital transformation, they must also seize the opportunity to go digital themselves. Governments – at the local, regional and national levels – can use digital technologies to improve efficiency and targeting, enable innovative policy design and rigorous impact evaluation, and expand citizen and stakeholder engagement. Many governments and administrations are currently exploring the possibilities, testing the potential, and evaluating the effectiveness of using digital technologies for improving policy design, implementation, and enforcement.

The OECD partner session at ITU Telecom World 2018 – Going Digital: An integrated and effective approach to policymaking in the digital age – will present the OECD integrated policy framework and invite a panel to debate how to make policies in the digital age more coherent and effective by using digital technologies. This is critical, because the use of digital technologies not only drives market dynamism by enabling innovation and new business models, but it also has the potential to transform how policy is made and how governments interact with their citizens. This panel will be an opportunity to hear first-hand what governments are doing as they go digital.

About the Author
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Molly Lesher

Molly Lesher is a Senior Digital Economy Policy Analyst at the OECD working on issues related to digital transformation. She is also the Co-ordinator of the OECD Going Digital project, which brings a whole-of-OECD perspective to understanding the digital transformation and developing pro-active policies to make it work for growth and well-being. More broadly, her work is aimed at supporting OECD member and partner governments with digital economy policy advice and analysis. Previous positions include Counsellor to the Directors of the OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Directorate, Counsellor to the Director of the Trade and Agriculture Directorate, 10 years as a trade economist, as well as roles in the Research Department of the US Federal Reserve Bank (international economics) as well as the private sector (Fidelity Investments, a US-based financial services company).