Yih-Jeou Wang, OECD
In an interview with FutureGov, Yih-Jeou Wang (pictured), Head of Unit, OECD E-Government Project, said that while e-government rankings have served as “useful signposts” for policymakers since the beginning of the decade, there was now a need to develop the next generation of indicators.
“How e-government supports public sector reform has become increasingly complex, and it is difficult to determine public sector performance from the existing indicators,” said Wang. “Data with which to make meaningful comparisons is limited and is often based on subjective assessments.”
The OECD began talks with its 31 member (which include Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia), and survey publishers the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the European Commission and universities such as Japan’s Waseda University in March this year.
The plan is not to create a new table that combines the methodologies and indicators of existing rankings, insisted Wang, although the discussions would explore ways to avoid duplication. “We won’t be starting from scratch. We want to create different types of indicators that enable governments to draw their own conclusions.”
A ‘virtual taskforce’ of country representatives is in the process of being set up to work out how the new indicators will be developed. A web-based platform will host technical discussions.
“Much of the discussions in March centred on identifying the target areas and establishing clear definitions and a solid methodology,” said Wang. “The development stage is tricky and will require close cooperation with member countries, the international organisations and academic research groups.”
The work will feed into future editions of the OECD’s bi-annual report Government at a Glance – first published in 2009. The resource provides links to Excel spreadsheets containing raw data and introduces composite indexes that summarise the key elements of public management practices in human resource management, budgeting and regulation management.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Wang. “When developing policies you need to be able to monitor and assess progress, and ensure you have the right measurement framework in place to implement policies. But to do this, you need indicators that provide insight into what actually improves the performance of government functions.”
A timeline for the launch of the new indicators has yet to be set.