In a three-part blog series, we review the emerging digital government movement around the world. In the first part, we looked at the trends of governments going digital. This second part will address the benefit of digital government models. The third and final part will conclude by presenting a three-level model of maturity for the digital government. This blog series is based on the white paper “Better governance, one API at a time.”
Governments are creating benefits across citizen experience, innovation and security by opening data and services, and reimagining government engagement and cooperation.
The API-First Digital Government Approach
Key Benefit 1: Citizen experience
In the digital age, citizens and businesses expect to be able to engage via online or mobile to access information, submit applications and pay for services, and to communicate with the government.
Fully digitizing the top 35 public administrative services could save German citizens 84 million hours a year in waiting times and paper application processes.[i]
By going digital, governments improve the experience of their citizens in several key aspects:
- Availability and accessibility: Governmental services are more readily available and accessible to citizens. For example, the United States Department of Veteran Affairs saw a 50% jump in online health care applications by veterans after it redesigned its website to create a more personalized experience eliminating the need for multiple logins.[ii]
- Simpler processes. APIs can make people’s lives easier. For example, BOSA (Federal Public Service Policy and Support) uses Axway AMPLIFY API Management for its secure data-sharing platform eBox. eBox connects companies and seven million citizens with up to 6,000 information providers and enables them to send and receive official documents. This allows Belgian agencies to comply with the “Only Once” law, prohibiting a government agency from requesting information from a citizen or a company if that entity has already provided the same information to another government agency.
- Improved trust and engagement: Digital government service delivery can improve service quality, promote transparent and efficient interaction, and enhance the level of public trust in government.[iii]
Studies show that citizens that are satisfied with digital government processes are 8x more likely to trust their government.[iv]
Key Benefit 2: Innovation
APIs enable governments and the wider industry to spur innovative business models and operate cost-effectively.
For example, to accelerate economic growth in the region, ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) replaced a slow and costly paper-based system for cross-border trade with the ASEAN Single Window, an electronic exchange of cross-border documents that connect ASEAN’s countries, trade, finance and manufacturing industries.
The ASEAN Single Window enhances regional trade while ensuring regulatory compliance – streamlining trading by entering data only once (thus eliminating duplication and errors). It speeds up time to market and reduces the cost of doing business.
- Greater internal and industry innovation: Most government services need the same functionalities as application form-filling services. Creating these as shared services APIs means they only need to be built once (and then maintained).
By using Singapore’s identity verification APIs banks were able to process account openings and loan applications faster, cutting down transaction times by 60% to 70% on average[v].
- Continuous innovation cycles internally: Studies have shown that fully digital public self-service could save German citizens 84 million hours a year in waiting times and paper application processes, and companies would save EUR 1 billion in administrative cost per year,[vi] and Australian citizens could save AUD$8.7 billion over a lifetime of travel and waiting time. [vii]
- Continuous improvement: APIs can be monitored for usage so that the ways citizens and businesses use digital services can be reviewed and improved in an ongoing manner.
Key Benefit 3: Data systems and security
A recent survey of citizen and business perspectives on digital governments found that 91% of respondents admitted having concerns when submitting personal information to government websites, fearing insufficient security, misuse of information, or technology failure.[viii]
APIs can help with securing digital governments in two key ways:
- Acknowledges security as a core component of the infrastructure: Information and system security needs to be a foundational element of the digital government. APIs help with addressing cybersecurity by building in security and privacy as part of the design of APIs, rather than ‘tacked on’ at the end of the process.
- APIs help ensure the secure data exchange: Data exchange systems can be secured and data privacy upheld by using APIs and digital government security best practices (including dynamic identity management and threat detection).
The U.S. Department of Defense’s largest combat support agency, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), employed Axway to provide enterprise-wide digital certificate validation to more than 30,000 users, therefore allowing only properly credentialed individuals to exchange sensitive information, process high-value transactions, and otherwise access the network systems critical to the DLA’s worldwide logistics operations.
Governments are reimagining engagement so it can be provided via digital channels such as a government’s website or mobile apps. But those benefits grow faster and reach further if governments move more whole-heartedly towards a digital transformation agenda in which APIs are used to connect systems. Governments that use APIs to open data and services internally, with partners and to external stakeholders see the benefits across citizen experience, innovation and security.
Download the white paper, “Better governance, one API at a time.”
[ii] Chappellet-Lanier, T (2019). “VA celebrates early success metrics from the VA.gov relaunch,” Fedscoop, February 19, 2019
[iii] Vertran, A. (2019) “How does digital government become better government?” Published in EY blog. 10 April 2019. Cited at:
[iv] Clark, K., et al (2019). The business of running state government operations. Published by NASCA and McKinsey and Company. Cited at: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/industries/public%20sector/our%20insights/the%20business%20of%20running%20state%20government%20operations/2019-business-of-running-state-government-operations-survey-insights-on-digital-government.ashx
[v] Manalasta, M. (2019). “MyInfo Business: how one solution is helping Singapore progress into a Smart Nation”. Published on e27 blog. 2 May 2019. Cited at: https://e27.co/myinfo-business-how-one-solution-is-helping-singapore-progress-into-a-smart-nation-20190426/
[vi] Sterm, S., et al. (2018). Public Services Government 4.0 – the public sector in the digital age. Published by McKinsey & Co. Cited at: https://www.mckinsey.de/publikationen/leading-in-a-disruptive-world/government-40-the-public-sector-in-the-digital-age
[vii] Chew, B., et al (2019). “Citizen experience in government takes center stage.” Published on Deloitte Insights blog. 24 June 2019. Cited at: