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Digital Governance – What Role Could OGP Play?

Seeking innovation and employing new technologies for opening up government has been central to OGP’s mission and a key area of focus for OGP since its founding in 2011. As of July 2019, OGP participants have made more than 1,700 action-oriented commitments related to electronic government issues.

Yet despite this progress, OGP continues to work to keep pace with an ever-evolving digital landscape. Even during OGP’s relatively short existence, digital transformations have profoundly changed both the systems in which members operate and the opportunity structures they afford, driven in large part by three dynamics: ongoing technological progress (e.g., the (re)emergence of artificial intelligence and big data-fueled algorithms; the scale and ubiquity of its use (e.g., social networks connecting billions of people around the world); and technology’s ability to reach into all aspects of our lives, socially, economically, and politically. At the same time, serious side effects have also emerged. From the corrosive impact of disinformation campaigns and hate speech to polarizing filter bubbles, rogue algorithms or the specter of manipulative surveillance state, the digital threats to the future of open government and open societies are clear and the need for getting the governance of these technologies right has become urgent.

In short, a next generation of digital policy issues, both good and bad, have come to the fore. They do not supplant the more established opportunities around electronic services, a new era for transparency and civic engagement, nor will they replace ongoing concerns around digital divides and uneven benefits that continue to be central to OGP’s digital agenda. However, this new generation of digital challenges provides a number of important new levers and possibilities for OGP in its efforts to better make technology work for open government. This strategy input paper explores how OGP could position itself, as well as advance and protect its values in the current digital environment. More specifically, it provides suggestions on what issues OGP could most effectively engage, what formats for engagement are appropriate and could be the most productive, and what stakeholders both inside and outside OGP could take such engagement forward. The number of digital issues the paper considered is intentionally broad. This ensures the research addresses all of the emerging issues most relevant to OGP in the last 2-3 years.

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