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The National Digital Program of the Government of Israel

Executive Summary

The rapid development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in recent decades has had a significant impact on all areas of our life. 

life. The “Digital Revolution” (or the “Information Revolution”) fosters business innovation, contributes to economic growth, improves quality and ease of life, helps increase government efficiency and upgrade public goods such as housing, health, education, social services and the economy, while narrowing geographic, social and economic gaps in society. Accordingly, various countries such as South Korea, Britain, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark and Norway identified the need to formulate a comprehensive national digital strategy to integrate innovative technologies into all areas of society and the economy. These countries enjoy higher productivity, faster growth and better quality of life for their citizens compared to other countries.

The government of Israel identified the acute need to formulate a comprehensive national digital policy as early as 2013. That year the government adopted a resolution to establish the “Digital Israel National Initiative” – to formulate and implement a national digital policy for using ICT  (hereinafter: “the National Initiative”). “Digital Israel” was defined as one of the six strategic issues the State should address by the National Economic Council in its strategic socio-economic assessment that it prepared and presented to the government.

To coordinate and integrate government work in order to advance the National Initiative and its goals, the government also decided to establish the Digital Israel Bureau (hereinafter: “the Bureau”) that operates within the Ministry for Social Equality. Among other tasks, the government charged the Bureau with the responsibility for formulating a National Digital Program, while accompanying the development of intra-ministry and inter-ministerial digital programs, as well as programs to promote cross-government steps necessary for realizing the National Initiative.

As the “Start-up Nation”, Israel is well-positioned to exploit the advantages of the digital revolution. Over the years, it has made intensive use of the advantages of digitization to become a world leader in high-tech, owing in part to the innovativeness of Israeli citizens and their tendency to rapidly adopt new technologies and services. Now there is a need to invest efforts to sustain and preserve Israel’s leading position for the long-term.

Despite Israeli innovation and advanced technologies, it is evident that the advantages and potential offered by the Digital Age have yet to permeate all parts of Israeli society and of the economy. Moreover, what did percolate occurred at different levels of intensity among different population groups. There are significant disparities in Israeli society, and a growing Digital Divide between those parts of society that take advantage of digitization and weakened populations that frequently do not benefit from its fruits. One of the goals set by the Ministry for Social Equality is to address these disparities and to act to narrow gaps between population groups, eliminate the “distance” between periphery and center and advance equal opportunity, using digital tools as the primary means of addressing these disparities.

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Developing digital industries in the country can serve as a significant growth engine for Israel, resulting in economic growth, job growth and improved services to the public, while fostering an innovative and advanced ecosystem. There is also significant potential to foster Data Driven Innovation in the public sector and in industry, and to improve digital infrastructures and accessibility of state and local government services to the population at large.

Accordingly, at the basis of the National Initiative is a vision to leverage the opportunity embodied in the digital revolution to narrow social and geographic disparities, achieve accelerated economic growth and promote a friendly Smart Government that is a world leader. The National Digital Program was formulated in light of this vision, and reflects the policy of the government of Israel for the years 2017-2020. To realize the vision of the National Initiative the primary goals and the strategic objectives of the National Digital Program were defined as follows:   

 

To realize the goals and objectives of the National Initiative, a broad scope of activities was defined, encompassing a wide range of field, services and products pertaining to the Israeli government, to the economy and to society. Implementation areas were divided into two groups: core areas and horizontal areas. Most likely, these areas will be updated as the National Initiative advances.    

The core areas consist of the main activity spheres in which a significant digital quantum leap can be achieved. They delineate the issues that will drive each specific ministry’s formulation of its digital plan for every area, coordinated and integrated by the Bureau.

In contrast, the horizontal areas are mainly inter-ministerial fields that will create the supporting infrastructure and environment for realizing the goals of the National Initiative and for advancing the digital revolution in Israel. Due to their cross-cutting  nature, some of these areas will be advanced by the entity responsible for the specific area in cooperation with the Bureau, and others will be led by the Bureau while harnessing government and multi-sector partners to advance initiatives and digital plans in the specific area.

The aim of the National Digital Program presented here is to advance and integrate the activity scope of the National Initiative and its goals, and to serve as a digital compass for all government ministries and offices. The Program constitutes a framework for government activity in implementing the National Initiative, and the ministries and auxiliary units that are partners must act to implement it, whether through the work plans of their ministries or by formulating dedicated digital programs with the help of the Bureau. To help government ministries formulate a digital strategy the National Program is based on several guiding principles: focus on user needs, using an agile approach, managing information resources, digital inclusion and Digital by Default. These principles are compatible with the government ICT strategy as formulated by the Government ICT Authority.    

The Program will help build economic growth engines and produce national benefits for the State and for society, and its implementation will enable a significant digital quantum leap that is needed for Israel. 

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