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Transforming local authority organisation

Pillar 1

Mobilise and enhance technical and human resources


Change management induced by integrating ICT into administrative departments requires strong political backing: the digital transformation will take place over the long-term and involve a dedicated team working closely with all the administrative services.

The constraints of human, technical, financial and administrative resources the authorities in developing cities may have to face are far from an obstacle to the use of ICT. The introduction of digital technology can even be an opportunity for leapfrogging and moving forward by giving preference to free or inexpensive tools and solutions.

Evaluate the uptake of computer equipment and digital tools used daily by municipal staff

In preparation, a few elements of diagnosis are necessary to assess the initial situation (digital maturity), and digital development potential.

Key questions

Diagnosis of municipal digital maturity


Digitalization of the local authorities of intermediate cities

Programmes for the gradual modernisation of procedures and the boosting of average-sized cities local authorities’ digital skills.

The Philippines set up a national programme to modernise procedures within the administrations at the beginning of the 2000s. This programme was gradually extended to local authorities.

The municipalities of Caloocan, Muntinlupa, Antipolo and Tagaytay, for example, implemented strategies to modernise procedures within their administrations within the scope of the Government Information Systems Plan (GISP) approved and adopted as a framework for all the computerisation efforts of key services and operations.

None of these municipalities had Internet access for all their departments in 2010, and Caloocan had no Internet access at all. The municipal authorities nonetheless devoted resources to introducing this programme, for example at Tagaytay and Muntinlupa, where a job position was created specially. This measure was to be implemented by Caloocan and Antipolo.

In addition, the municipalities rallied technical assistance to improve the skills of their departments: Caloocan and Muntinlupa have a dedicated department, Management Information Systems; which acts as preferential contact; Antipolo preferred to consult its software vendor, Amellar Corporation; Agaytay enlisted the services of private technicians.

At Muntinlupa, emphasis was placed on e-governance, improving the website as a priority. The three other cities preferred to set themselves the goal of improving e-government by developing specific administrative applications on the Internet, requiring user identification.

Lessons learnt

Develop the digital skills of the city’s staff

The collaborative approach is unavoidable to be able to successfully introduce digital technology in the departments and the way the local authority works. There are three decisive success factors.

  • The process must be supported by a decision-maker (leader) and a technical manager, who will be both driving force and king pin of the local digital transformation. They should interact with legitimacy and conviction towards all the stakeholders: other elected representatives, local public officers (users), consultants supporting the transformation, technician-developers. Their knowledge of digital methods and especially their experience in launching major projects and stimulating and coordinating other agents’ initiatives should enable the departments to go beyond their confines.
  • The use of technical skills to support digital transformation. This can be expressed as internal recruitment of new skills sets: developers (computer experts and programmers) specialising in data management and analysis. This can also involve consulting firms who help to design strategies (on the data managed by the city, the uptake of digital tools, etc.) and solutions.
  • Training, to help local administrative staff own the stakes, take charge of the new tools and become stakeholders and initiators of the digital transformation.

The local authority can choose different change management methods, depending on its human, financial and technical capacities: back the project internally or call on consultants or specialised firms, while maintaining strong political guidance. Universities and educational institutes can also be particularly interesting partners for rallying the necessary skills.

The first step for engaging administrative staff is to assess whether the teams are familiar with digital tools: mastery of basic software, knowledge of uses and potential of the Internet and social networks. Beyond this, it is important to know whether they are interested in appropriating new tools and working methods to define which types of support and training will be required.

Digital tools may alter ways of working profoundly, for two reasons.

  • The “entry cost” for the civil servants: familiarising themselves with new tools, becoming used to exchanging on online forums and collaborative applications, agreeing to change working habits is neither instantaneous nor easy. In the first instance, aninformation, awareness-raising and training approach shall be necessary to make sure the staff are ready to invest time and effort in these new methods and persuade them to do so.
  • Alteration of jobs induced by the new digital tools: automation of certain procedures, dematerialisation of archives and exchanges, greater speed and responsiveness change the rationale behind the work. Gains in efficiency that may be expected can also be perceived as threats in certain business lines. The underlying rationale and the benefits the staff can derive must be clearly explained. The transformation process must not only be transparent, it must also address the concerns and problems facing the agents in the field, who will be the users of the new digital solutions.

The promises and opportunities of digital technology will be fulfilled if local authorities, and their personnel, engage in a perspective of innovation and experimenting with new solutions on a daily basis. This pre-supposes a change in the local authority’s modus operandi towards more flexibility and attention to the proposals coming directly from staff/users, and acceptance of readjustments along the way, when a tool does not work properly.

Building an inter-departmental team which has conviction is therefore decisive for a successful digital transformation. The manager would do well to rely on digital “focal points” in each department to serve as a relay for the internal transformation.


“E-Fes”: dematerialisation of the civil registry
Fes, Morocco

Online services for civil registry procedures that simplify service delivery and improve municipal management performance.

The Moroccan context is favourable to the modernisation of the authorities, promoted by the monarchy and by the higher echelons of State. The municipality of Fes has been a pilot city in processes for dematerialising administrative procedures.

Back in 2004, the registry office was modernised: an ICT technician was put in charge of setting up an online portal dedicated to digitalizing civil registry procedures (birth certificates, marriage, divorce, death certificates, etc.). The purpose of this joint initiative of the municipality and Al Akhaway University was to create online services to simplify service delivery and issuing of administrative documents for inhabitants. As a complement, interactive digital terminals were installed in the administrations.

In addition to improving dialogue between local authorities and citizens, the platform enabled the development of municipal management performance indicators. The reduction in service waiting time, error rate and repetitive tasks are so many indications of the growing competence and efficacy of the civil servants at the registrar’s office. Municipal services are now subject to citizen evaluation. At the end of 2017, an application called “e-Moukataâ” was tested to allow citizens to access the administrative services and legalise their documents from a distance.

Lessons learnt

  • The partnership of Fes municipality with its university involved quality human and technical resources to manage and continuously evaluate the process.
  • Introducing municipal management performance indicators made it possible to measure improvements in skills and efficiency of the local civil servants.

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