Nurturing Hong Kong Organizational Culture in Data Governance EJINSIGHT

According to the Global Data Barometer published in May this year, Hong Kong’s score for “governance” was particularly bad, in the sub-item “data management frameworks”, the city was even zero-rated! The Barometer study was conducted from 2019 to 2021, assessing 109 countries and economies around the world based on four pillars: governance, capacity, accessibility, use and impact of data for the public good.

Hong Kong’s poor score may be related to the lack of strong leadership and clear direction on open data. In early 2016, the Smart City Consortium (SCC) submitted an advisory report to the government, stressing that the government should set up a high-level body responsible for overseeing open data. The new setup should lead the government to be “digital by default” (i.e. open data with an application programming interface or API) and coordinate important tasks, including data standardization and the establishment of a framework to develop guidelines for data definition, collection and processing. It should also review laws and regulations related to technology development, data use, especially privacy protection, and formulate implementation timelines.

I proposed that the government create a Chief Data Officer (CDO) position to take on the expected heavy workload. After six years, there are still no CDOs at all. This is a crucial step the Chief Executive should take if he is serious about continuing to develop Hong Kong as a smart city.

In addition, it is also important to improve the data literacy of civil servants who form the backbone of government, so that they can make decisions based on data and evidence.

Last September, the United States Department of State published the Enterprise Data Strategy (EDS) which could be our reference. The document outlines how to increase the data fluidity of the public service team, including accelerating decision-making through analytics, establishing mission-driven data management, and improving corporate data governance. company, while cultivating the organizational culture towards the analysis and application of data.

Meanwhile, the Digital Government Blueprint released by the Singapore government in 2020 also stated that the government should change the current operating model to a data-driven culture and structure, the traditional IT team should be transformed into a digital and data to expand data work, and even the scope of analysis.

The new school of thought requires public officials to consciously connect data to real-world applications, not just learn basic data skills. It used to be that we first had a specific problem and then tried to find the answer from the data. So the whole process of data collection and analysis revolved around the problem. Now, driven by the practice of key performance indicators, this data-based decision-making approach is gradually permeating our daily lives. For example, the human resources department should use data to make decisions in the recruitment, retention, training, and reward process to avoid unconscious bias.

Organizational culture is a set of established approaches to operations, making a change can be daunting. It depends on subordinates following the example of their superiors who set appropriate rewards and challenging goals to keep the organization running more smoothly and efficiently. By driving the digital transformation, the government will be able to support the city’s recovery in the post-Covid era and meet the current and future needs of citizens and businesses.

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Dr Winnie Tang

Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering; Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences; and Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong