Digital governance is the central challenge facing governing institutions and societies in the coming decades where information knows no boundaries, power is dispersed and authority and accountability need to be reconceived. What is digital governance and why is 'digital' a governance issue?
Westminster parliamentary democracy is widely credited with a high capacity to adapt to societal evolution. Its ability to adapt to the realities of a digital society is putting this claim to the test. Westminster governments were never designed with the digital era in mind. Two forces – digital and governance – are meeting like tectonic plates, shifting the landscape and giving rise to new peaks and valleys around key governance questions that all Canadians need to be concerned about: Who has real power? How should decisions be made? How can all players make their voices heard and ensure that account is rendered?
Digital Governance, an sLab research project, explores unprecedented challenges and opportunities facing governing institutions and associated groups in the digital era. Through research and engagement activities the project develops a network equipped to understand these dynamics and to guide innovation. The initial partners are University of Victoria, Institute on Governance (IOG), OCAD University, Dalhousie University, and MIGHTY Purpose. Together with additional partners (to be identified) the Digital Governance team will build a digital governance research network.
- Provide a platform for a national conversation on the issues and possibilities of digital technology and governance. The partnership has established itself as a Digital Governance Commission – a modernized, virtual royal commission that combines visibility, engagement and evidence based research, and that engages Canadians to develop practical solutions.
- Recognize that the discussion must move beyond technological change to an understanding of the disruptive nature of digital transformation as an historic opportunity to recast the role and responsibilities of governments, citizens and other actors.
- Explore emerging governance challenges and possibilities, but also specific practice areas such as evidence based policy analysis, advising ministers and legislators, citizen engagement, modernizing service delivery and realigning administrative systems to meet new and ever increasing demands on the part of governments at all levels.
- Examine the new and emerging governance challenges of the Westminster system in light of the advent of digital, and to determine the transformative and evolutionary changes required of government and non-government actors in an evolving democratic environment across Canada.
- Determine and articulate the new, core competencies required of all stakeholders and institutions (e.g. politicians, public servants, citizens, the private sector, and students) in the digital age.
- Design a research program with windows of opportunity in mind in order to maximize impact and generate practical impetus for change.
- Articulate the value brought to key stakeholders and include open, transparent and participatory methodologies on an ongoing basis.
For further information, please visit http://slab.ocadu.ca/project/digital-governance.
This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.