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Roundtable Session 1

Wednesday, 6 October 2021 | 11:00 - 13:00 | Room Athena [Main Auditorium]


Reinforcing trust in democracy: how can public service design and delivery in the digital age help governments win back their citizens?

Declining trust in governments has put democracy under pressure. Skepticism in public institutions, growing polarisation, rising populism, declining social cohesion and increasing threats to freedom of expression are a few examples of recent challenges facing societies around the globe. However, despite increasing distrust, the appetite for political participation and engaging in decision-making (e.g. citizens’ assemblies, public consultations) has edged up.

As societies and economies become increasingly digital and citizens become more demanding, governments must meet their raised expectations. A digitally-enabled state leverages digital tools and data to anticipate and respond to the needs of citizens placing them at the core of policy-making and service design processes.

Building on the work of the OECD Secretariat on digital government and digital democracy, participants are invited to discuss how digital technologies and data can help governments understand citizen needs, legitimise and inform design and delivery of services to better serve society and regain trust.


The session will aim to foster discussion on:

  • The relevance of the six dimensions of digital government, building on the OECD Digital Government Policy Framework, as pivotal to anticipate and respond to the needs of citizens, communicate and engage with a view to the creation of a collective and knowledge-based public sector, and place them at the core of policy-making and service design processes.
  • How digital tools and data can help engage citizens in policy-making processes.
  • The challenges and concerns on digital democracy to effective citizen engagement ensure inclusion, ethics and trust on the use of digital tools and data, and how good governance can help overcome these issues.


The session will be a thematic debate involving a set of key stakeholders, including high-level representatives from the public sector, international organisations, and academia, to discuss the fundamental importance of digital government to leverage tools and data to communicate and engage with citizens to meet their needs and regain trust in governments. As a 2-hour session, the first hour would be dedicated to a debate between the speakers, and the second hour to Q&A from the audience.



Barbara Ubaldi
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Cristina Cosma
European Commission (DG DIGIT)
Frank Leyman
Federal Public Service Policy and Support