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Is Government Ready to Harness Information as an Asset?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Mauricio Covarrubias
August 11, 2023

The degree of preparedness of governments to face the challenge of turning data into knowledge and using information as an asset can vary significantly between countries and administrations. Some governments have made progress in adopting data science and data management practices, while others may be in the early stages or face obstacles in implementing these initiatives.

There are several factors that affect the readiness of governments in this regard:

Data Culture

One of the key factors influencing a government’s readiness is its Data Culture, which refers to the mindset and approach within government that values and prioritizes the use of data and analytics for decision making. This implies that government leaders and officials must be willing to adopt evidence-based practices and support the implementation of data science initiatives in all areas of public administration. A strong data culture fosters transparency, accountability and continuous learning through data and analytics.

Technological Infrastructure

The technological infrastructure is a crucial component for the preparation of the government in the effective use of data. This includes the implementation of robust data management systems, adequate storage capacity to handle large volumes of data, analysis and visualization tools, as well as capabilities for real-time data processing. Investment in technology is essential to ensure that the government has the necessary infrastructure to effectively manage and leverage data for the benefit of the public and decision-making.

Analytical Capacity

Analytical capacity is the government’s ability to understand and use data effectively to extract meaningful knowledge. This means having trained data science professionals who can perform tasks like data cleansing and transformation, analytical modeling, machine learning and data visualization. Lack of analytical capacity can hinder the government’s ability to make the most of its data and make informed decisions. Investing in training and skills development programs is essential to strengthen analytical capacity within government.

Governance and Data Security

Data governance refers to the set of policies, processes and procedures that govern the management and use of data in the organization. It is critical to establish a strong governance structure that defines clear roles and responsibilities in relation to data management, ensures data quality and integrity and establishes policies to ensure data security and privacy. Data governance must also address issues related to data sharing between different government agencies and with the public, promoting transparency and responsible access to information.

Data Access

Access to data is another critical aspect for governments to reap the benefits of data science. It is important that the data is available and accessible to different government departments and agencies that require it for their tasks and analysis. It is also worth considering sharing non-sensitive data with the public to foster open data and promote collaboration between government and civil society. However, it is essential to establish controls and safeguards to protect the privacy and security of sensitive information.

Investment in Technology and Training

To be prepared to harness the benefits of data science, governments need to invest in the right technology and training programs for staff. The adoption of advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies requires investments in infrastructure and tools that enable efficient and secure data processing. In addition, the government should invest in data science training and skills development to train its staff on effective data management and analysis. This ensures that the government has the necessary talent carries out data science initiatives in a successful and sustainable manner.

In conclusion, the preparedness of governments in harnessing information as an asset is a multifaceted challenge that requires careful attention to various interconnected factors. Establishing a strong data culture, investing in technological infrastructure and analytical capacity, implementing robust data governance, ensuring data access while safeguarding privacy and prioritizing investments in technology and training are all essential components for success. While these processes may require time, resources and commitment, governments that overcome these challenges can gain a significant advantage. By leveraging data and making informed decisions, they can improve public service delivery and achieve greater efficiency in governance. Embracing data as an asset will undoubtedly shape the future of governance and decision-making in a data-driven world.

Author: Mauricio Covarrubias is Professor at the National Institute of Public Administration in Mexico.  He is co-founder of the International Academy of Political-Administrative Sciences (IAPAS).  He is the founder and Editor of the International Journal of Studies on Educational Systems (RIESED). Coordinator in Mexico of the TOGIVE Project: Transatlantic Open Government Virtual Education, of the ERASMUS+ Program of the European Union. Member of the National System of Researchers of CONACYT.  He received his Ph.D. from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @OMCovarrubias

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