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The National Digital Program of the Government of Israel

The Background of the Digital Israel National Initiative

Many countries identified early on the need to set forth a broad national digital policy. Among the OECD countries, 27 had such a policy in 2015, and two additional countries are in the process of formulating a National Digital Program[16].


The national program currently implemented in many countries is not that country’s first strategic digital program, but rather a program continuing prior programs published and implemented over the past decade. 

photo: Leading countries with a National Digital Program

The need to formulate a digital strategy for Israel was already recognized in 2013, when in May of that year the National Initiative was defined as one of the six strategic issues that should be addressed by the government and was included in the national socio-economic assessment presented by the National Economic Council. This was followed by the approval of Government Resolution No. 1046 to establish the National Initiative that will formulate and implement a national policy for using information and communication technologies[17]. The resolution defined key core areas – education, health, economics, and social affairs and social services, for which ministerial implementation teams would be established. Also defined were horizontal areas such as adapting the government procurement policy and regulation to the digital age.

In October 2014, the Israeli government approved Government Resolution No. 2097 that included a section on the advancement of the “Digital Israel” National Initiative, and specified additional areas such as developing human capital needed to implement the goals of the National Initiative, promoting the deployment cross-government ICT infrastructures and developing e-Gov services for the public[18]. In 2015, as part of government’s approval of the national strategic socio-economic assessment for that year that defined the National Initiative as a strategic national issue, the government approved steps to be taken in order to formulate a National Digital Program, alongside developing ministerial and inter-ministerial digital programs as well as programs for advancing cross-government components of the National Initiative[19] . Additional core areas were defined as part of the resolution, such as local government and law, for which ministerial implementation teams would be established.

In the framework of these resolutions, it was decided to establish a central unit to coordinate and integrate the activities of the National Initiative– the Digital Israel Bureau that was established in the Prime Minister’s Office and in 2015 came under the responsibility of the Ministry for Social Equality. The Bureau’s responsibilities include formulating the National Digital Program; coordinating the work of the designated inter-ministerial steering committee established to advance the National Initiative; accompanying implementation of the National Initiative in the various government ministries while creating collaborations between them; accompanying the implementation teams and helping to formulate ministerial digital programs; building collaborations with the business sector in Israel and the world, and leading a permanent inter-sector discourse between government ministries, the business sector and the third sector – in the aim of solving economic and social problems by using ICT technologies; and developing inter-ministry digital processes and leading their implementation[20].

The Vision of the Digital Israel Initiative and its Realization

As noted, the approach of the Ministry for Social Equality, which is responsible for the National Initiative, is to leverage the digital potential for the benefits of all the citizens of Israel – socially, economically and educationally. 

The national digital policy is in alignment with the Ministry’s vision – to narrow disparities between populations and geographic regions and to provide equal opportunity, while creating a reality that facilitates social cohesion and a diverse society on the one hand, and empowerment of the individual on the other.

The National Initiative strives to transform Israeli society into a digital, innovative and technologically-leading society, in which every citizen, business and government entity optimally exploits the opportunities offered by information and communication technology.

The Vision

Israel will leverage the opportunity presented by the digital revolution and by the advancement of information and communications technologies to reduce socio-economic and geographical gaps, to promote accelerated economic growth and to advance a smarter and friendlier government, while becoming a world leader in digital governance.

advance Israeli society in this direction, the State of Israel must integrate qualities such as innovation, creativity and openness to adopting advanced technologies among all population groups, business sectors and government branches. This is the guiding principle underlying the vision of the National Initiative.


The Primary Goals of the “Digital Israel” National Initiative

 The primary goals of the National Initiative are directly derived from its vision and are in alignment with the vision of the Ministry for Social Equality. These goals focus on the significant efforts that will be invested as part of the National Initiative on those components that will contribute the most to the well-being of Israel’s citizens, and will transform Israel into a digital society. The primary goals are narrowing socio-economic gaps, accelerating economic growth and creating a friendly and smart Government. 


The three primary goals reflect the main social and economic areas in which the National Initiative seeks change in order to realize its vision as presented in detail in the following chapters. Several strategic objectives were derived from the primary goals, representing the most vital issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve the National Initiative goals, and on which most of the efforts will focus, as well as the initiatives carried out within its framework.

Transforming Israel into a digital society in which every individual, business and public entity can easily use ICT extensively and benefit from the advantages of digital tools and technological innovation, will help narrow existing disparities in society, enable accelerated economic growth and help establish Israel’s competitive advantage. 

National Initiative Guiding Principles

The aim of the National Digital Program is to serve as a compass for the State of Israel with respect to digital transformation processes. The Program is forward-looking, whereby some of the digitization steps will be realized as part of the the National Initiative and some will be advanced independently by various government offices now and in the future.
The National Initiative guiding principles will serve all government ministries and entities when formulating a digital strategy and developing projects for advancing digitization in Israel. Defining the principles according to which government entities will operate will enable synchronization of the various activities in the digitial field, and ensure that Israel realizes the digital transformation according to uniform principles. These principles are also compatible with the government’s ICT strategy put forth by the Government ICT Authority that guides the government IT units.

The main principles for the Digital Israel Initiative and for advancing the digitization in Israel:

Focus on User Needs

View the citizen as a customer of the government, and design government services accordingly, based on understanding the customers’ needs from their perspective. These services will be unified, convenient and independent of the entity providing the service. The various services will be designed while taking advantage of digital capabilities and in an iterative process with the users of the relevant entity, in addition to public involvement, in-depth study of the users, an understanding of the customer’s/user’s journey and striving for continuous service improvement.

Agile-based Project Management

Agile-based project and process management includes conducting pilots, defining minimum viable products, working in stages while performing an iterative process and creating a continual development and improvement cycle. The agile approach supports ‘Strategy is Delivery’, in other words a “performance” strategy – launching digital services quickly and simply, and make things right later. The transition to an agile approach is intended to avoid a long process of designing systems, where the time between characterization of the system and its actual use can take several years during which customer requirements may change. Increasing the agility and availability of government services will enable the provision of better and more quality services to citizens and businesses in the country.

Human Resource Management

1. Data-driven Decision-making

Using data in decision-making processes regarding service provision and use will enable the design of quality and optimal digital services based on user needs. Measuring services while receiving real time user feedback will enable identification of problems and points for improvement, and will help design convenient and quality government services.

2.Openness and Transparency (“Open Government”)

Make public information open and transparent so that it is easy to use for the benefit of citizens and business. Promote “open government” while maintaining principles of privacy and data security. Opening and providing public access to databases, studies and data will allow for increased transparency and public trust in the government and will foster the development of business models based on the published data. Moreover, promoting a policy of public engagement and transparent decision-making processes will enable increased civic involvement and heighten public satisfaction.

Digital Inclusion

Create conditions that give all citizens equal ability to enjoy the opportunities of digital through services that are accessible to all. To achieve this goal digital services must be simple and intuitive to users so that every citizen can use them easily and succeed in receiving the service on their first try without external help. The emphasis is on narrowing the digital divide in the social and geographical periphery and among the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Digital by Default

Develop government services as end-to-end digital services that are standard, simple and convenient to use so that every citizen able to do so will prefer to use them. To realize this principle, existing processes for receiving services from the government must be examined and redesigned to provide comprehensive and simple end-to-end digital processs, for both back-office and citizen interface.