Capacity4Change – Bringing Digital Transformation and Public Administration Reform in the Eastern Partnership

On 1 December 2022, the GIZ Representation in Brussels organised the latest installment in its Capacity4Cange (C4C) event series – this time on the topic of Digital Transformation and Public Administration in the Eastern Partnership region. This event was a cooperation between:

  • The Regional Fund for Public Administration Reform in the Eastern Partnership,
  • The Eastern Partnership Regional Fund for Public Administration Reforms, a project implemented by GIZ
  • The Centre of Innovations in Parliaments of the European Parliament and
  • The Centre of Thematic Expertise on Public Administration Reform of the European Commission (DG NEAR)

It gathered in-person and online participants from 5 Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

A meeting in Brussels around public administration reform and e-governance

Digital transformation is one of the most developed areas in terms of public administration reform in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, with some countries being already very advanced in the development of numerous services and others starting their digital transformation journey. The purpose of this event was to discuss the challenges and the opportunities of the EaP region and its population to benefit from digital transformation and implement it in a meaningful, inclusive and sustainable way.

This event brought together participants from 5 countries of the EaP region to exchange their respective approaches, experiences, achievements, and challenges around e-governance and the connected public administration reforms. The fact that this meeting could take place in-person and online despite the ongoing Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, which impacts all 5 countries, highlights the relevance of the topic. All participants showed great appreciation for the Ukrainian representatives present in Brussels and online.

The need for structural and administrative reforms

The exchanges, through presentations and a panel discussion, led to the following conclusion: For digital transformation to function the existing administrative processes and structure also need to function. Therefore, it goes hand-in-hand with public administration reform. In this context, it is crucial to put the citizen and their needs at the centre of the approach. These systems need to be accessible for all, inclusive and shock resistant. 

Identification of shared challenges

During the discussions, some common issues were identified:

  • Human resources for digital transformation and e-government are scarce and the competition in this area is remarkably high. To attract the best, competitive salaries are needed but not enough: this needs to go together with a modern and flexible workplace and the motivation of contributing to public service. 
  • To be successful, public administration reform and digital transformation need to be coordinated across all public services. As they cover a very wide range of administrative departments across several public entities, it is crucial to break the silo mentalities and to put in place a coordinating body. Ideally, all administrative services can be put under one e-governance roof. 
  • Finally, it was highlighted that digital transformation needs to be adaptable and resistant to external shocks. This means, for example, working with open sources, avoiding creating systems that will undergo obsolescence and ensuring that e-governance can continue working in case of crises. 

This event brought around the table multiple experiences and laid the ground for further exchanges between these 5 countries. The discussion was very constructive as that representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament were actively engaged. No doubt that e-governance in the EaP region will remain high on the political agendas for 2023.

For this C4C, participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine exchanged with the European Commission and the European Parliament about the successes and challenges of public administration reform and digitalisation.

About Capacity4Change

Capacity4Change (C4C) is an event series in Brussels organised by the GIZ Representation in Brussels in cooperation with selected partner institutions and organisations. C4Cs aim at enriching the Brussels policy debate with practical know-how and implementation experiences. It features innovative approaches, challenging analyses, interesting publications and thought-provoking ideas.