Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Digital technologies and their uptake in society have advanced more rapidly than any innovation in history. However, research into how the public sector uses digital innovation has slowly developed. Government has an essential role in sustainability in setting and enforcing policy around subjects such as pollution and carbon taxes, making digital innovation in government critical for digital sustainability. Further, the public sector’s values and priorities differ from those of the private sector, which confounds simple comparisons in areas such as digital ways of working and efficiency drivers. This paper draws on the public management literature and uses an exploratory and interpretive field study of a leading digital government. The research identifies six barriers to digital innovation within the New South Wales government: varying digital maturity, non-digital mindset, slow mobilization, service-based silos, premature solutioning, and failure to align investment in digital innovation with broader government priorities. The paper identifies initiatives enabling world-class digital innovation and driving effective change. These enablers are structural service integration, ecosystem engagement, technology modernization, customer-centric strategies and processes, and agility in management. The paper finds that digital capability gaps and core rigidities interact, which requires a comprehensive approach to capture the significant benefits for citizens and the environment.


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