South Korea tops OECD digital government rankings

By on 21/10/2020 | Updated on 04/02/2022
Lotte World Tower against blue sky.
South Korea claimed the number one spot, followed by the UK, Colombia, Denmark and Japan

South Korea has been ranked as the top digital government among 33 countries in a league table released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The 2019 Digital Government Index (DGI), published last week, draws on survey results from 29 OECD member states and four non-member partner countries to measure the maturity level of digital government and digital transformation of the public sector.

The UK took the number two spot, followed by Colombia, Denmark, Japan, and Canada. At the opposite end of the scale, the bottom five were Greece (29), Panama (30), Argentina (31), Iceland (32) and Sweden (33).

Each country was assessed using six OECD indicators characterising a fully digital government: digital by design; data-driven public sector; government as a platform; open by default; user driven; and pro-activeness.

Winners’ platform

The top six countries were found to “excel predominantly due to their high scores in government as a platform dimension, combined with outstanding results in the user-driven, digital by design and open by default dimensions,” the report says. “In contrast, Sweden, Iceland, Argentina and Panama show overall limited results across all dimensions.”

It also highlighted “open by default” as “the leading dimension in terms of results, exemplifying the relevance awarded by countries to embedding openness and open data as core components of efforts to reform their public sectors.”

However there were some glaring omissions from the rankings, with data unavailable for Australia, the US, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Turkey. Singapore, a non-OECD member with an advanced digital government, was not included in the global rankings. And surprisingly Estonia, a country which has undergone massive digital transformation, was found to be below the OECD average on almost every indicator.

Global recognition

South Korea’s Interior Minister Chin Young said the government’s “innovative efforts to actively promote digital transformation in the public sector” had been “internationally recognised,” UPI reported, adding that it would “continue to promote digital government in order to lead the post-pandemic era.”

Jessica McEvoy, deputy director for the UK Government Digital Service (GDS), wrote that she was “delighted” by the result. “This top ranking is something we are really proud of at the Government Digital Service (GDS), and it reflects the hard work of teams across GDS and the thousands of digital, data and technology (DDaT) professionals across the function.”

The OECD report said the “findings show the promising yet modest progress towards robust digital governments, and encourage governments to step up efforts to use digital technologies and data strategically for user-driven public services.”

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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