Liam Maxwell, national technology adviser to the British government, highlighted the importance of open-source government as a catalyst to deliver effective services, during a visit to Jakarta on Tuesday (19/09). (Reuters Photo/Athit Perawongmetha)

Britain Ready to Share Digital Government Expertise With Indonesia


SEPTEMBER 20, 2017

Jakarta. Liam Maxwell, national technology adviser to the British government, highlighted the importance of open-source government as a catalyst to deliver effective services, during a visit to Jakarta on Tuesday (19/09).

He said Britain seeks to expand bilateral cooperation with more countries through the exchange of expertise.

"As governments, we don't compete. We should share our services and share our administrative tools in an open-source way so they become better. This idea of open-source government is the way of delivering better services [for citizens]," Maxwell said.

Britain established a government website by putting citizens at the center of its design, adopting an approach based on the needs of users to direct more traffic to the online tool, as well as ensure that information is more accessible to the general public.

The success of the digital government services has inspired countries such as New Zealand and Israel to adopt a similar format.

Britain and Canada signed a memorandum of understanding on digital government services on Monday, which seeks to improve the effectivity of digital government services.

"We found in lots of other countries that the approach to digital government, where you build services around citizens, means services get better and they cost so much less," Maxwell said.

Britain has reportedly saved around $4.7 billion in administrative costs by identifying existing problems and delivering better services through technological improvements.

As part of his visit to Indonesia, Maxwell met with Communications and Information Technology Minister Rudiantara to discuss potential cooperation in technology, as well as Britain's experience in government reform.

To facilitate the country's ambition to use technology to drive economic growth, Indonesia may look into putting the government onto the public cloud, which Maxwell said is a fundamental way to change the way government works.

"Public cloud offers a much smoother, faster way of running your services, and much better security when it is done right," Maxwell said. He added that it is not only less expensive, but also easier to work with in the long run.

Digital Marketplace

One of Maxwell's contributions in transforming the British government's approach to the purchase and use of technology was through the digital marketplace, which provided a space for the public sector to buy IT services from a wider range of suppliers.

The digital marketplace has reached over $1.3 billion in sales, most of which has gone to small businesses.

The model has helped boost growth among small businesses and created jobs all over the country, driving not only innovation but also overall effectivity.

"We are going to open source that as well, so that will be something other governments can use," Maxwell said.

He added that Australia has recently created its own digital marketplace, which is based on that of Britain.

Open Government

Indonesia declared its commitment to open and transparent government in 2011, when it signed the Open Government Declaration Partnership (OGP) declaration. It is also one of the organization's founding members, along with Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, Britain and the United States.

However, the country still faces several challenges and lacks a coordinated protocol to realize its commitments, even amid its OGP action plan, which seeks to improve public services and manage public resources more effectively and transparently.

OGP also endorses the practice of making data more easily available to the public, which Maxwell said is crucial in making governments more efficient.

He cited the example of the British government's website providing data for state services, which charts hundreds of services and their respective performances.

"By analyzing in the open how the services are working, it meant that we can understand where the failures are happening and design it better to meet the needs of the users, using real data," Maxwell said.