Digital Government Units: Origins, Orthodoxy and Critical Considerations for Public Management Theory and Practice

Paper by Amanda Clarke: “From 2011 onwards, Digital Government Units (DGUs) have quickly emerged as a preferred solution for tackling the over-cost and under-performing digital services and lagging digital transformation agendas plaguing today’s governments. DGUs represent a common machinery of government phenomenon insofar as they all exist at the centre of the state, and adopt a shared orthodoxy, favouring agile, user-centric design, open-source technologies, pluralistic procurement, data-driven decision-making, horizontal ‘platform’ based solutions and a ‘delivery-first’ ethos. However, DGUs are differentiated in practice by their governance structures, resources and powers, adding notable complexity to this recent public management trend. Acknowledging the speedy policy transfer that has seen DGUs spread globally despite a lack of critical appraisal of their value and shortcomings, the paper highlights four critical considerations that governments and their observers should account for when assessing DGUs as a potential instrument of digital era public management renewal….(More)”.