jueves, 10 de marzo de 2016

Governance Structures for Digital Policies (I)

(This post contains draft material of the article published in Business Value Exchange

The digital technology is not anymore an isolated sector in the economy. Its general purpose nature has boosted the extension of its usage in very sector and the need for a coherent approach from the policy-making side. The vertical model of governance based in a vertical approach, with a unique ministry responsible for the digital policy that collaborates with the ICT industry associations, does not serve anymore. New models are emerging across the world based in the open government principles: Collaboration, transparency and participation.

Open government arises as a reaction to the complexity of the challenges that governments face. The more polyhedral the challenge, the more a government need an open governance structure to deal with it. Without any doubt, this is the case of the digital transformation of the society and the economy. Our whole environment is changing, from leisure to the work, from manufacturing to white-collar work, from human communication to travelling. As a consequence, for both the internal as the external faces of the digital policy governance, collaboration, participation and transparency are the axis of the new structures.

Starting with the external face of governance, different models of cross-sector councils are being promoted in some countries. One of the more consolidated experience is the French Digital Council (Conseil National du Numerique, CNN). The Council was set up in April 2011 by the French Government and has undergone some evolutions to develop in a better manner its advisory function. The CNN members are selected by the government and appointed by government decree. The Council’s thirty members come from across the digital spectrum, and include private sector professionals and entrepreneurs, researchers and activists.

In the USA, the government is experimenting with a different kind of animal. In november 2015 the US Commerce Department established the Digital Economy Board of Advisors (DEBA), which it will be composed of 15-20 members from the industry, academia and civil society. Instead of following the CNN model of membership based on the direct appointment by the government, the selection of the DEBA members is based in an open call where individuals and associations can nominate individuals based on its educational and professional merits. It is expected that DEBA will start in Q1 2016 its advisory function to promote an open internet that continues as an engine of growth, innovation, and free expression. 

Less information is available on other cases, as the Digital Economy Council (DEC) sponsored by the UK Government. This case looks as less ambitious model for collaboration established with the direct implication of TechUK, the UK ICT industry association. Apparently, the selection of the members is done by techUK only among ICT companies. Its only purpose is having regular meeting with the State Secretariat responsible for Digital Policies.

CNN, DEBA and DEC are examples of the external governance structure that supports the main government department in the design of digital policies. But as needed as this cross-sector collaboration with the outside is the whole-of-government collaboration. In the next days we will review this side of digital governance in the blog.

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