One Step Forward and Two Steps Back: E-government Policies in Practice

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A central goal of e-government policy is to increase efficiency in public administration, and one way to increase efficiency is via the increased use of automation and rule-based decision making. The use of data to streamline processes also has a prominent role in public policy today. This chapter specifically discusses the role of discretion in data-driven public administration. The empirical setting for this discussion is the Danish public sector which has been among the first movers to implement e-government solutions. Denmark has a long tradition of issuing public policies defining goals of front-office e-services as well as back-office digitization. Rule-based decision-making systems represent an ideal driver for actualizing the visions outlined in these policies. This chapter presents an experience where a rule-based decision-making system was introduced in an agency which handles complex cases requiring in-depth discretion by specialized professional caseworkers. This experience provides a platform for discussing possible challenges when implementing policy goals in an organizational context. This chapter also addresses the concept of “digital nomos”, the administrative norms of a digitized public administration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolicy Analytics, Modelling, and Informatics : Innovative Tools for Solving Complex Social Problems
EditorsJ. Ramon Gil-Garcia, Theresa A. Pardo, Luis F. Luna-Reyes
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9783319617619
ISBN (Electronic)9783319617626
Publication statusPublished - 2018
SeriesPublic Administration and Information Technology


  • Policy implementation
  • Public administration
  • Automation of work

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