The government is increasingly using (new) technologies for service delivery, tackling social problems and implementing policy. Technical resources are not only playing an ever greater role in investigation, enforcement and combating terrorism, but also in areas such as youth policy and health care. The use of new technologies and techniques is also becoming increasingly important internationally (e.g. biometric databases used in migration policy and international data sharing).
The use of technology creates new opportunities but can also lead to vulnerabilities and dependencies. A great deal has still to be clarified concerning both the risks and the opportunities. As a result, the government appears not always able to find carefully thought through and sustainable answers.
Taking this as its starting point, the WRR carried out research into the following aspects:
- The influence of technology and large quantities of digitally stored data on statutory frameworks, decision-making processes, national and international positions, interaction between the private and public sectors and responsibilities;
- The consequences for aspects such as system security, autonomy of citizens, societal dependence on technology and privacy. The research focused in particular on the actual attention paid to these aspects, how and why they change and what role national policy and politics plays in this;
- The organisational and institutional parameters for public administration for the sound and future-proof exploitation of the opportunities offered by technology and digital information.
In its report to the government, the WRR calls for greater awareness in government that the day-to-day practice of policy and implementation has given rise to an ‘information-Government (iGovernment). The Council puts forward recommendations in this regard.
The report i-Overheid (i-Government) was presented to the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations on 15 March 2011.
The government needs a greater awareness that it is in reality an iGovernment. That realisation is important if it is to meet the challenges posed by the advancing digitalisation and exploit the opportunities that digitalisation offers for innovation. In its report, the WRR makes a number of recommendations for anchoring the concept of an iGovernment in policy.