I gave a speech today to the 5th Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Malmo, Sweden.  My message was that governments should not let the world’s current economic crisis delay much-needed government reinvention around the Internet and other digital technologies.  Instead, the current crisis makes public-sector innovation even more urgent.

(The 5th Ministerial eGovernment conference brings together high-level speakers and 1,000 delegates representing EU Member States, European Free Trade Association and candidate countries, the European Commission, international and regional organizations such as the United Nations and the OECD, leaders of the ICT industry and its main organizations including Digital Europe, as well as academics.)

The challenge facing governments is that plummeting tax revenues, bank bailouts and infrastructure investments have drained government coffers, undermining funding of basic operations. But at the same time, citizens want better and smarter government that provides improved services and marketplace stability.  The only solution is to stop tinkering with government and implement fundamental reforms.  We need Government 2.0.

I updated delegates the results of a multi-million Euro research program by nGenera Insight, which was funded by governments in the EU, North America and Asia.  The research program concluded that most e-government initiatives are mired in old thinking such as the creation of ‘web sites’ and ‘government portals.’

As such they are missing the much bigger opportunity to change the way governments orchestrate capability to create and deliver services – ultimately changing the division of labor in society for economic and social development and social justice.

The digital age allows the age-old question of ‘who does what’ to be answered more creatively than before.  ‘Public’ value no longer needs to be provided by government alone.  It can be provided by any combination of various public agencies, the private sector, a community group, or citizens themselves, using the Internet as a mechanism for collaboration, process management, and conducting transactions.  The result is greater value and lower cost for the customers of government.