Digitization Of Public Services In Oecd Countries: Silicon Valley Meets ‘Yes Minister’


  • W. McCourt Global Development Institute, University of Manchester


The implications of digitization of public services for the public workforce in the governments of selected OECD member countries are explored through a desk review of government workforce practices supplemented by interviews with officials in five OECD countries, especially Canada, UK and USA. The paper outlines the strategic context of digitization in terms of strategies for public service reform, digitization itself, and workforce (HR) management. It then reviews implications for the classic HR functions in the order in which they arise in HR job life cycle: competency frameworks, hiring, pay, learning and training, and job termination. There is also a discussion of the changing work patterns which digitization has ushered in, and the management of digital change, including relations with trade unions and the role of the HR function. At the strategic level, we are starting to see digitization being incorporated into overall government reform strategies: Singapore is an example. Governments are also producing specific digital strategies, as in Denmark. The UK provides an example of how digitization is being integrated with overall workforce strategies. (The US example is discussed later in the paper.)