product development without use

OverviewProgram DevelopmentPolicy Development

All too often, open government products - resources, often technology driven, aimed at driving changes in governance processes - are created but not used. Sometimes this is a result of empty promises made to look good, get funding, or get voters. Other times, it is a result of poor design, including attempted adoption of ready-made solutions from another context without giving thought to how the product will be used and by whom.

Unused products may be a result of an outside initiative such as a project implemented with an international donor, or as a way to fulfill a requirement from an agreement made with an international platform. When the impetus is external, risks of implementation without consideration of end users, appropriateness of context, or questions of sustainability can be high.

Common Scenarios

Products developed to, for example, capture the needs of citizens, demand for improved access and quality of public services, and track gaps and opportunities in governance processes can be useful. However, there are various reasons why target audiences may not use them. The examples of underutilised open government products illustrate the variety in product, but the same results in use:

Scenario 1: Governments are building products and assuming citizens will be motivated to interact with them

In Serbia, an online space for public debate and consultations on draft legislation was integrated to an e-government portal. Updates to the portal are infrequent, and interactions with it are minimal.

Scenario 2: Civil society organisations are creating products for governments without engaging them in their processes

In Moldova, a guide on citizen engagement was designed to be a “live document” that public servants could use. The content remains static.