Challenges and Opportunities of Digital Transformation in the Public Sector in Transition Economies: Examination of the Case of Uzbekistan (2021)

Challenges and Opportunities of Digital Transformation in the Public Sector in Transition Economies: Examination of the Case of Uzbekistan

We examine the evolutionary stages and current state of e-government in post-Soviet transition countries, shedding light on Uzbekistan as a case study. The previous literature on e-government in developing countries emphasized the considerable positive impact of e-government, including enhanced state services provision, controlled corruption, and more transparent and inclusive governance. There are a number of challenges in transition economies of post-Soviet countries that prevent them from reaping the potential benefits of digital transformation in the public sector. We employed a multidimensional framework, which includes socioeconomic and political factors of technology-enabled public sector reforms, to analyze the current state of the e-government system, challenges, and opportunities. Data were collected from several sources: an online user experience survey of 94 citizens from Uzbekistan; 10 structured and semi-structured interviews with central, local, and civil society organizations; and a review of legislative and policy documents, as well as observation of e-government websites. We find that despite achieving a noticeable improvement in e-government indicators of the UN and other international organizations, with much emphasis being laid on technological progress, there is a design-reality gap in digitizing public services: a little has been attained in terms of e-government infrastructure and the interoperability of different government authorities. Transactional services are still in their infancy, and greater citizen engagement is still limited. We also develop possible policy options to overcome barriers in digital transformation in the public sector, by drawing a broader implication from the outcomes in other post-Soviet country contexts.

© Asian Development Bank, 2021