Transformational Government

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Transformational Government is the use of computer-based information and communications technologies (ICT) to change the way governments work. The term is commonly used to describe a government reform strategy which attempts to radically change the way people understand government, especially those working within government. For example, it is often associated with a 'whole-of-government' viewpoint, which tries to foster cross-department collaboration and provide 'one-stop-shop' convenience in the delivery of services to citizens.

The term Transformational Government is usually used aspirationally, as denoting the 'highest' level of what e-government can achieve:

  1. presence, where ICT, and usually websites, are used to provide information;
  2. interaction, where government interacts with citizens, and departments interact with each other, online especially by email;
  3. transaction, where such things as paying taxes or licenses are carried out online;
  4. transformation, which involves a reinvention of government functions and how they operate.[1] In relation to developing countries, it is often associated with hopes of reducing corruption, and in relation to developed countries, with attempts to increase the involvement of the private and voluntary sectors in government activity.


During the last two decades, governments around the world have invested in ICT with the aim of increasing the quality and decreasing the cost of public services. But over that time, as even the least developed countries have moved to websites, e-services and e-Government strategies, it has become increasingly clear that e-Government has not delivered all the benefits that were hoped for it.[2] One study found that 35% of e-government projects in developing countries resulted in total failures; and that 50% were partial failures.[3]

In reaction to these poor outcomes, there has been a shift of perspective to 'Transformational Government', aiming beyond purely technical aspects of better enabling e-government processes towards addressing the cultural and organisational barriers which have hindered public service benefits realisation. Researchers have defined the rationale for Transformational Government as “the exploitation of e-government such that benefits can be realized”.[4]

In 2010 the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) published a report[5] which identified a wide range of common pitfalls which have hampered many governments in achieving significant impacts through their technology investments. However, OASIS also noted that:

“… an increasing number [of governments] are now getting to grips with the much broader and complex set of cultural and organizational changes which are needed for ICT to deliver significant benefits to the public sector. This new approach is generally referred to as Transformational Government.”

OASIS cites [5] the UK and Australia as two of the leaders in this area:

“Transformational Government…. encompasses a new "virtual" business layer within government which allows an integrated, government-wide, citizen-focused service to be presented to citizens across all channels, but at no extra cost and without having to restructure government to do so. Two very good examples of this new approach are South Australia’s “Ask Just Once” portal and the UK Government’s DirectGov portal, and the approach is explained in very good detail in the CS Transform’s white paper entitled "Citizen Service Transformation – a manifesto for change in the delivery of public services”.

Countries with Transformational Government Initiatives[edit]

Within the last decade, this new emphasis on a Transformational Government approach can be seen from a number of countries:

Country Initiative(s) Details
Canada Government On-Line (GOL) Report of the Auditor General of Canada: Chapter 1 Information Technology: Government On-Line 2003 [6]
“One of the key principles of Government On-Line is that programs and services will be transformed to reflect the needs and expectations of clients and citizens. From the government’s perspective, the overall objective of the GOL initiative is full service transformation – to fundamentally change the way the government operates and to deliver better services to Canadians.”
UK Transformational Government: Enabled by Technology, 2005 [7]
“The future of public services has to use technology to give citizens choice, with personalised services designed around their needs not the needs of the provider”
USA PIF, 18F, USDS Presidential Innovation Fellows program where "teams of government experts and private-sector doers take a user-centric approach to issues at the intersection of people, processes, products, and policy to achieve lasting impact"[8] launched in 2012.[9] 18F a new digital government delivery service, was formed in early 2014[10] and United States Digital Service (USDS) was launched later in 2014.[11]
Korea Government 3.0 Announced in 2013 with "an ambitious plan to allow wider public access to government data to improve the transparency of state affairs.",[12] this initiative includes: citizen-centered government innovation, core values of openness, sharing, communication, collaboration for all areas of governing, customized services to individual citizens, which will create jobs and support creative economy[13]

International initiatives[edit]

The early pioneering work by some governments is now being picked up and championed by a range of global organizations which offer support to governments in moving to a Transformational Government approach. For example:

  • The World Bank has set up an eTransform Initiative (ETI) with support from global IT partners such as Gemalto, IBM, L-1 Identity Solutions, Microsoft and Pfizer. "The eTransform Initiative is about tapping information technology, expertise and experiences”, said Mohsen Khalil, Director of the World Bank Group’s Global Information and Communication Technologies Department. “Government transformation is about change management facilitated by technology. This initiative will facilitate the exchange of lessons and experiences among various governments and industry players, to maximize impact and lower risks of ICT-enabled government transformation.”
  • A number of private sector organizations working in this area have published white papers which pull together global best practices on Government Transformation.[14][15][16][17]
  • OASIS launched (September 2010) a new Technical Committee tasked with producing a new global best practice standard for a Transformational Government Framework. The Framework is expressed as a number of "Pattern Languages", each providing a detailed set of guidance notes and conformance clauses on how to deliver the required changes in practice.


  1. ^ "Gartner's Four Phases of E-Government Model. Research Note Tutorials". Gartner Group. 2000.
  2. ^ ‘The failure of e-government in developing countries: a literature review’. The Electronic Journal on Information System in Developing Countries. Dada, D. (2006)
  3. ^ "eGovernment as a Carrier of Context - IGovernment Working Paper No.15, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, Manchester, U.K. Higher Education Admission Center (HEAC) Heeks, R. (2004)".
  4. ^ Electronic transformation of government in the UK: A research agenda. European Journal of Information Systems 16, 327-335 Irani, Z., Elliman, T. and Jackson, P. (2007)
  5. ^ a b "Library of all approved outputs from the eGov Member Section - OASIS eGov".
  6. ^ Canada - Report of the Auditor General of Canada, 2003
  7. ^ UK - Transformational Government: Enabled by Technology 2005 Archived 2009-05-04 at the UK Government Web Archive
  8. ^ "Presidential Innovation Fellows". 23 June 2015. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014.
  9. ^ "White House Launches Presidential Innovation Fellows Program". 23 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Hello, world! We are 18F".
  11. ^ "White House launches 'U.S. Digital Service,' with fixer at the helm".
  12. ^ "Park unveils 'Government 3.0'".
  13. ^;jsessionid=7164645AF1082FB9879B21090874219A.node02?atchFileId=FILE_000000000005151&fileSn=0
  14. ^ "Microsoft in Government: technology solutions for government agencies".
  15. ^ "Citizen Service Transformation".
  16. ^ "Citizen Service Transformation".
  17. ^ Sharing Front Office Services: The Journey to Citizen-Centric Delivery, Accenture 2009

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