Ayushi Kaul Roy

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Who Serves our Public Servants?: Centering core administration in Government 2.0

Currently, most literature sees “civic technology” and the digital service groups that build them as an answer to the challenge of modernizing governance and delivering social services equitably. My hypothesis is that, contrary to existing literature, greater digitization alone of government services does not strengthen government performance. Digital products are merely the Trojan horse for building relationships across silos and changing bureaucratic processes.

However, in the move towards making governance more "user-centered," public interest technologists have forgotten one of government's biggest users: those on the inside. One of the biggest services government provides is access to employment and income stability for minorities and women. Moreover, improving service delivery requires improving the experience for the person serving. How can we shape a future of digital governance that does not pit our external users against our internal users, particularly when both are seeking the same access to stability and dignity? By recognizing the human qualities of digital transformation, this thesis advocates for digital governance that better engages the administrators, public workers, and “middle management” who remain core to government operations beneath the veil of digitization.

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