On August 8 2018, Apolitical published its inaugural list of the 100 most influential people in digital government. The list is the first of its kind to show the international spread of the field, and includes individuals from every continent working to transform the public sector for the digital age.
Many of those on the list are well-known. Founder of the World Wide Web Tim Berners Lee, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and e-commerce pioneer and digital advocate Martha Lane Fox are all included. Others are less prominent, but no less important — the frontline staff who are are quietly and tenaciously updating the machinery of government.
“People working in digital government often go unrecognised by the wider public, yet the work they do is vital as both the opportunities and risks of digital technologies increase,” said Apolitical CEO Robyn Scott. “It’s a been a joy to produce this list recognising the most influential individuals in the field — including some incredible unsung heroes — from around the world.”
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As they are in nearly every other aspect of our lives, digital technologies are transforming government. In every country and at every level of government, public servants and ministers are having to work out how to reform and reimagine government for the digital era. It’s complex, and difficult work, requiring political support from the top, and commitment and ingenuity by those building services themselves.
The list was constructed from nominations from over 130 experts in digital government from national governments, international organisations, academia and business, including the OECD, the Open Government Partnership, USAID, the Alan Turing Institute and The World Bank.
“People working in digital government often go unrecognised by the wider public”
After receiving over 500 total nominations, Apolitical’s reporters and editors selected a shortlist, based on a number of factors, including the number of nominations each individual received, their past achievements and their power to enact future reforms.
The list was shared by the World Bank, and was reported in the international press: Government Computing, Markets Insider, the Copenhagen Post, Indian newspaper the Economic Times and Australian public sector news site the Mandarin all wrote stories on the award.
Scott Brison, Canada’s Minister of Digital Government celebrated that “government’s fresh approach to citizen-centric services is being recognized on the global stage”.
Our government’s fresh approach to citizen-centric services is being recognized on the global stage.
— Scott Brison (@scottbrison) August 8, 2018
The inclusion of Vasundhara Raje, the Chief Minister for Rajasthan led to the list trending in India under the hashtag #RajeShinesGlobally. She was recognised for leadership in e-governance, making Rajasthan the first state in India to implement an integrated digital transformation framework across its government.
CM @VasundharaBJP dedication towards #DigitalRajasthan mission is not only celebrated in India, but globally. Her name in the @apoliticalco World’s 100 Most Influential People in #DigitalGovernment in 2018 is the testament of her global presence. #RajeShinesGlobally @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/OXEY2qFQk6
— CM Office, GoR (@RajCMO) August 9, 2018
Reformers from Latin America, East Asia and the UK were well represented, as was Estonia, whose digital public service reforms have become the standout example for others to emulate. Former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves congratulated his nation for “punching way over their weightclass” and said that, when it comes to digitisation, “small can be very big.”
— toomas hendrik ilves (@IlvesToomas) August 8, 2018
Public servants on the frontline were also represented. Pia Andrews, service integration lead at New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs, who is working to transform services across the administration praised her minister, Clare Curran, while Lou Downe, director of design and service standards for the UK government, dedicated the award to government designers around the world “fighting for the legitimacy of design as a central role in the way our countries are run.”
Proud to have made this list, especially alongside @clarecurranmp whose vision & leadership is enabling great things right throughout NZ public service. Bringing together digital, open, broadband, inclusion/rights & public media as the pillars of a modern democracy was genius 🙂 https://t.co/5FSxedQFLj
This award is for every design leader working for governments around the world who are fighting for the legitimacy of design as a central role in the way our countries are run
— Lou Downe (@LouiseDowne) August 8, 2018
The list will be repeated on an annual basis. Nominations are already rolling in for next year. While there will be a formal process nearer the time, please feel free to start sending suggestions for those you think must be included to Eve Powell (firstname.lastname@example.org).