New America Launches Digital Decade Agenda to Strengthen Public Institutions with Open Source Technology Solutions

Press Release
Sept. 18, 2020

A recording of the event is available online, here

WASHINGTON, D.C.- New America hosted an online event on the margins of the 2020 UN General Assembly to launch a #DigitalDecade to develop open source technology solutions that will strengthen public institutions in countries worldwide.

“Open source technology platforms are poised to bring greater resilience, efficiency, and accountability to governments around the world,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America, in her opening remarks welcoming Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, and Sierra Leone’s Minister of Education & Chief Innovation Officer, David Moinina Sengeh.

The keynote speakers expressed the importance of open technological innovation in government. "Digital public goods play a vital role in strengthening public institutions. They make it possible for countries to reuse and adapt open source technologies instead of starting from scratch. In crisis moments like today, solutions must be shared and scaled quickly,” said Prime Minister Solberg.

Minister Sengeh emphasized how digital public goods can play a key role in how governments respond to the coronavirus pandemic. He highlighted Sierra Leone’s "Digitization for All" strategy that helps coordinate resources, information, and people to meet critical needs during the crisis.

Following the opening remarks, Slaughter moderated a plenary session with leading technologists, philanthropists, and digital government practitioners who highlighted opportunities to build solutions, the need for financing mechanisms, and a desire to establish new multilateral architecture to spread access to digital platforms for the public sector.

Panelists concluded there is unprecedented demand for digital services spurred by the coronavirus and a need to develop a new generation of digital solutions to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The participants announced joint commitments to help governments deploy next-generation technologies to power their institutions based on:

  • Expanded use of open source solutions that can be scaled quickly and efficiently across borders and increase trust in public sector technology systems.
  • Development and adoption of interoperable open standards to improve resilience and encourage efficiency.
  • Enhanced international coordination to implement new financing and multilateral institutional frameworks supporting digital public goods.

Tomicah Tillemann, Director of Digital Impact and Governance Initiative at New America, also unveiled the Digital Government Mapping Project. “We identified over 100 platforms in 40 jurisdictions where governments are transforming the way institutions deliver value. We also cataloged key lessons that can help move this work forward.”

The event concluded with a digital roundtable during which participants identified the need to employ user-centered design principles and include users at all levels of the development, deployment, and governance process.

A recording of the event is available here.

Event Speakers


Since 1999, New America has nurtured a new generation of policy experts and public intellectuals. Today we are a community of innovative problem-solvers, combining our core expertise in researching, reporting and analysis with new areas of coding, data science, and human-centered design to experiment and innovate nationally and globally. We prize our intellectual and ideological independence and our diversity, seeking to do our best work and to reflect the America we are becoming.

New America’s Digital Impact and Governance Initiative (DIGI) builds partnerships to design and deploy next-generation open source solutions to power the public sector. The technologies we create deliver unprecedented improvements in efficiency, accountability, and trust in service to communities worldwide.