Data Governance: The Next Frontier of Digital Government Research and Practice
in Dubois, E. and Martin-Bariteau, F. (eds.), Citizenship in a Connected Canada: A Research and Policy Agenda, Ottawa, ON: University of Ottawa Press, 2020
25 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2020 Last revised: 6 Nov 2020
Date Written: June 5, 2020
Picking up on a global orthodoxy calling for digital government transformation, governments across Canada are now introducing ambitious service reforms and broader changes to the organization and culture of public service institutions. These reforms are primarily justified on the grounds that they are necessary if governments wish to meet the expectations of citizens accustomed to the innovative digital service offerings of the private sector. Yet with digital transformation agendas come notable changes to the ways that public sector data is collected, applied, and shared across the state and amongst private firms. These data governance reforms may prove unacceptable to citizens where they lead to privacy breaches, betray principles of equity, transparency and procedural fairness, and loosen democratic controls over public spaces and services. This chapter presents three cases that illustrate the data governance dilemmas accompanying contemporary digital government reforms. The chapter next outlines a research and policy agenda that will illuminate and help resolve these dilemmas moving forward, with a view to ensuring that digital era public management reforms bolster, rather than erode, Canadians’ already precarious levels of trust in government.
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