Technology and policy don’t stand still. Public Digital regularly researches the developments in internet-era cultures, processes, business models and technologies that are crucial to our clients. Wherever possible we make that research open, so that everyone can benefit.

Calvin Ma: photograph of a wire fence with a hole pushed through it

Research agenda

We know technology, policy and society all move quickly. We believe strongly in being open to new ideas and staying intellectually sharp. We want to find evidence and stories that get past the marketing glare and into the messy realities of organisational change. Doing research is an important part of that.

But there are too many interesting topics to explore. So to help focus our effort, we’ve published a research agenda. This agenda sets out the 6 topics we want to dig into over the next year or two. The topics are:

  • Digital public goods

  • Funding models and economic growth

  • Identity

  • Sustainability

  • Inclusivity, equity and social impact

  • Welfare systems

More on Public Digital's research agenda for 2022.

Past research publications

Making public finance digital

link: Digital public financial management: An emerging paradigm

link: Making public finance digital: Challenges to the emerging digital public financial management paradigm

In collaboration with ODI as part of our joint Digital Public Finance Hub, this pair of papers explores the challenges with a prevailing approach to digitising public finance, an emerging new paradigm that more fully embraces internet-era ways of working, and some of the further work that is needed to fully realise that new paradigm.

The second paper discusses how digital PFM as a discipline can help make public finance digital and, more broadly, usher in a new era of public finance reform in government. In this way, digital PFM brings together different specialisms from PFM, digital government and service delivery into a more holistic focus.

Published in March 2023 as part of the Digital Public Finance Hub.

Fixing digital funding in government

link: Fixing digital funding in government

One frequently overlooked cause of poor digital services in the public sector is the way they are funded. Annual budgeting cycles, detailed business cases, and capital-spending policies clash with modern digital delivery. Governments cannot engage effectively in digital transformation without addressing funding reform. This paper identifies seven shifts in culture, attitude, and behaviour that are crucial for reform.

Published in September 2021 with Boston Consulting Group.

Open source in government: creating the conditions for success

Governments globally have sought to digitise their operations and services for many years. Covid-19 has made this an imperative: countries that have been able to serve their citizens remotely have seen the benefits of their digitisation efforts; those further behind have seen the gap more acutely.

We conducted interviews with government decision-makers, technical experts, funders and people delivering digital services to citizens across 4 continents. We synthesised their experiences, and set out an Open Source Capability Model for Governments providing a self-assessment tool, assisting governments to adopt open source practices and calibrate their current policy and technical environment.

The executive summary and the full report are available to download, or you can review and comment on the report on GitHub.

Published in June 2021 with the support of the Omidyar Network. The views herein, however, do not necessarily reflect those of the funder.

Building a digital strategy

link: Building a digital strategy

Published with NHS Providers for board members, this guide breaks down what to look for in a digital strategy, how to develop one, and how to decide where to start.

We look at how boards can support an effective digital strategy by asking the right questions, knowing the key decisions that will need to be made, and understanding the connections between digital strategy and delivery.

Published in March 2021 with NHS Providers.

Building and enabling digital teams

link: Building and enabling digital teams

Published with NHS Providers for board members, this guide explores what a good digital team looks like, how to build one, and where to start in order to support boards who want to build their digital capability.

We look at how boards can enable effective digital teams by establishing governance that supports exceptional performance, and explain how boards can set themselves up to operate at the speed of trust rather than the speed of process.

Published in November 2020 with NHS Providers.

A new era of digital leadership

link: A new era of digital leadership

This guide has been written with NHS Providers for board members of all types of NHS trust to support them in the new era of digital leadership required by the pandemic. It outlines how digital issues impact on strategic and operational concerns for executives and non-executives. It explains the issues and trade-offs that leaders should be considering, provides examples of good practice - from the NHS and beyond - of how other organisations have addressed them, and sets out some of the difficult questions that boards will need to address.

Published in July 2020 with NHS Providers.

Best practice in government data analytics teams

link: Best practice in government data analytics teams

La revolución digital que están experimentando los gobiernos, está llevando a que se planteen programas que mejoren el análisis y uso de dato para plantear políticas públicas más efectivas y eficientes. A pesar de que numerosos gobiernos reconocen la importancia de contar con una adecuada infraestructura de datos, ésta aún no es lo suficientemente confiable. El análisis de datos conlleva varios desafíos, e implica cambios técnicos y organizacionales para poner en práctica iniciativas que faciliten su exploración para mejorar la infraestructura, procedimientos y servicios públicos. En este informe se presentan tres casos de estudio que muestran como los equipos de análisis de datos pueden conformarse dentro de la estructura organizacional del sector público. Así también se detalla una guía para guiar a los gobiernos de la región en la creación equipos de análisis de datos sustentables, exitosos y capaces de brindar valor público

Published in August 2019 with the support of IDB.

How to Achieve and Sustain Government Digital Transformation

link: How to Achieve and Sustain Government Digital Transformation

Digital government is rapidly gathering momentum as an effective way for nations and regions to increase their administrative efficiency, develop resilience, and deliver simpler, clearer, and better services for their citizens and businesses. This report summarizes the conditions and context needed for government digital teams to succeed and be sustained across different administrations. The report explores the conditions needed to establish a digital team, examines the ideal environment to make that team successful, and concludes with the conditions required to help that team sustain as an institution across different political administrations.

Published in July 2018 with the support of IDB.

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Public Digital


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A regular scan about internet-era ways of working in public and private organisations around the world.