The Technological Promise of Digital Governance: Procurement as a Case Study of ‘Policy Irresistibility’
To be included in A Sanchez-Graells, Digital Technologies and Public Procurement. Gatekeeping and experimentation in digital public governance (OUP, Forthcoming)
18 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2022 Last revised: 29 Sep 2022
Date Written: September 12, 2022
This Chapter takes a governance perspective to reflect on the process of horizon scanning and experimentation with digital technologies. The Chapter stresses how aspirations of digital transformation can drive policy agendas and make them vulnerable to technological hype, despite technological immaturity and in the face of evidence of the difficulty of rolling out such transformation programmes—eg regarding the still ongoing wave of transition to e-procurement. Delivering on procurement’s goals of integrity, efficiency and transparency requires facing challenges derived from the information intensity and complexity of procurement governance. Digital technologies promise to bring solutions to such informational burden and thus augment decisionmakers’ ability to deal with that complexity and with related uncertainty. The allure of the potential benefits of deploying digital technologies generates ‘policy irresistibility’ that can capture decision-making by policymakers overly exposed to the promise of technological fixes to recalcitrant governance challenges. This can in turn result in excessive experimentation with digital technologies for procurement governance in the name of transformation. The Chapter largely focuses on the EU policy framework, but the insights derived from this analysis are easily exportable. The arguments in this Chapter are further explored at http://ssrn.com/abstract=4232973.
Keywords: Public procurement, information intensity, information complexity, policymaking, digital technologies, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, robotic process automation, hype, garbage can, policy entrepreneurship, policy capture, excess
JEL Classification: D73, H57, K23, K24, K49, O33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation