Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM)
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Knowledge Management

Government in Information Society

While all societies have always had knowledge assets, they have taken on a new degree of importance with the advent of the Information Age, and now constitute a nation's key form of capital. Therefore, the Division for Public Administration and Development Management seeks to examine:
  • The role of ICT in promoting knowledge-based government for development (k-government), more specifically, enhancing government capacity through ICTs to generate, acquire, manage, disseminate and apply knowledge resources towards nationally defined development goals in support of the UN Development Agenda.
  • The role of electronic and mobile government (e/m-government) not only as one component of building a smart system to stimulate knowledge creation and facilitate knowledge resource management, but also as a tool for meeting public sector reform and good governance objectives. E/M-government focuses on:
  • E/M-readiness for improving government services online;
  • E/M-participation for promoting interactions and consultations between government and citizens in decision-making processes; and
  • E/M-inclusion for bridging the digital divide to provide all citizens, especially those of the disadvantaged groups in society with online access to public information and services.

In exploring these themes and in building the capacity of UN Member States in these areas, the Division, through its Knowledge Management Branch undertakes analytical, technical, advocacy, training and networking activities.

Knowledge-based Government for Development
(K-government)

Every society has always been a knowledge society in the sense that it has been using knowledge - formally and informally - in economic growth and in social development. However, the ICT revolution at the end of 20th century revamped the ways in which all knowledge can be created, harvested, assembled, combined, manipulated, enhanced and channeled. This increases the efficiency and effectiveness of using knowledge in economic growth and development to the extent that it is becoming the leading factor for adding value and for wealth creation in the market economy. In this Knowledge Age, intellect and creative, innovative and inventive ideas become a primary source of advantage and wealth. These factors also carry a promise of dramatically advancing human development and increasing the quality of life. Therefore, a nation's capacity to develop systems that support the creation and application of knowledge within government, as well as throughout society, increases in importance and warrants greater consideration.

The Division examines the following two components of Knowledge Systems for Development:

National Knowledge Systems for Development: The government plays a key role in supporting the development of national knowledge systems. We examine the characteristics and attributes of the knowledge society, the features of a National Knowledge System, the components of a national knowledge strategy, where knowledge issues are being addressed (e.g., through science and technology, ICT, innovation, education and culture strategies and policies), how bottom-up knowledge is captured and how governments can measure the society's knowledge assets.

Public Sector Knowledge Management: As one of the largest producers and consumers of information and knowledge, the government can act as a model user of these resources through the development of sound management policies and an understanding of the impact of effective knowledge application on government and governance. We examine how the public sector generates, captures, manages and uses its knowledge resources, current public sector approaches to knowledge management, the components of government knowledge management strategies and action plans, practical examples of knowledge management efforts, and how the effective application of the public sector's knowledge assets affect policy development, decentralization, service delivery and other good governance goals.


Electronic and Mobile Government Development
(E/M-government)


E/M-government, the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) within and by the public sector, provides government, the citizen and business with a set of tools that can potentially transform the way in which interactions take place, services are delivered, and public administration reform and good governance goals are met. The strategic use of ICTs in government can result in a more inclusive, effective, efficient, transparent and accountable public administration, which will be key to improved economic development and competitiveness. Moreover, in enhancing the quality and delivery of public services through ICTs - especially in education, health, social security and social welfare - government may be better positioned to reduce poverty, redress inequality, and promote sustainable development.

E/M-government can facilitate improved coordination and cooperation between government agencies, decentralized and empowered local governments, better integration and coordination of social and economic policy, streamlined government structure and business processes, and enhanced capacity for data production, information-sharing and knowledge management. Equally important, e/m-government, when viewed as part of a broader focus on e/m-governance, can offer new channels for participation and engagement in the political process, greater consultation in the decision-making process, and can enhance the prospects for deepening democracy.

In all of these ways, e/m-government can serve as an important tool in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Yet, there are also many challenges in realizing e/m-government's potential. They include cultural and political barriers; organizational and institutional deficiencies; the need for sound legal and regulatory environments; creating processes for identifying citizen needs; proper infrastructure and access; and adequate financial and human resources.

The Division seeks to address both the opportunities and challenges of e/m-government through analysis and building governments' capacity in a number of areas, including: development of national e-government strategies and action plans; measuring e/m-government readiness; benchmarking UN Member States' online presence; determining feasibility of e/m-government applications; identifying the benefits and challenges of regional cooperation on e/m-government and the specific opportunities and challenges of local e/m-government; and ensuring to address the following main concerns:

  • E/M-readiness for improving government services online;
  • E/M-participation for promoting interactions and consultations between government and citizens in decision-making processes; and
  • E/M-inclusion for bridging the digital divide to provide all citizens, especially those of the disadvantaged groups in society with online access to public information and services.

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