Smart government: a playbook for politicians and public managers

How politicians and public managers can foster smart government in Switzerland

Recent study shows: Public authorities must engage with the changing needs of our society

The playbook has been designed to help politicians and public managers jump-start their efforts to implement smart government. 
In cooperation with the Smart Government Lab at University of St. Gallen, PwC has analyzed various use cases to identify four enablers that enhance the capability to unleash the promising potential of Smart Government sucessfully.

Let’s start the dialogue and move forward with courage and determination to make our government ‘smarter’.

Download the study now

Use cases

Better decisions in administration

Better decisions in administration in politics and public administration

Smart government solutions are able to significantly improve certain strategic and operational decisions in both politics and public administration. This eventually creates potential in terms of both efficiency and effectiveness.


  • 15-20 % savings through process efficiency
  • 30-40 % savings by reducing errors and fraud
  • 8-10 % fewer fatalities
  • 30-40 % reduction in crimes such as assault and burglary
  • 20-35 % faster emergency response times


  • Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP): predictive data model for traffic accidents
  • City of St. Gallen: Internet of Things

Establishing more user-friendly, effective and efficient public services and internal processes

Nowaday citizens and companies expect public services to be as convenient as those provided by the private sector. In a nutshell, it’s about paying more attention to user experience and user journeys to make public services for citizens and companies more user-friendly, effective and efficient.


  • 50-60 % time savings for citizens and civil servants
  • CHF 120 million annual savings for businesses in Switzerland
  • 10 times more trust in government authorities and faster emergency response times


  • City of St.Gallen: chatbot
  • Swiss intercantonal solution: eMovingCH

Enabling innovative and collaborative solutions in public administration and other sectors

Authorities have three strong assets that are crucial when developing innovative solutions: (1) vast pools of data records, (2) direct access to citizens and companies, and (3) scalability. By sharing these assets with third parties, either within public administration or with other sectors, public administration can trigger innovative and collaborative solutions in line with the ‘government-as-a-platform’ idea.


  • 3-4 % additional economic value per year
  • Specific case-by-case potential (e.g. higher service quality)


  • Terravis: Swiss digital platform for mortgage, notary and land register
  • Bob Emploi: French digital platform for unemployment services

Fostering citizen engagement 

New applications and formats, both analogue and digital, allow more direct and intense interaction and collaboration between public administrations and citizens, civil society and business. While such use cases address e-voting potential as well, the focus is more on the potential for e-participation, i.e. participation that goes beyond political rights.


  • Enhancing participation and active citizenship
  • Ensuring a learning process
  • Engaging young people in policymaking
  • Ensuring innovative ideas for policymaking
  • Increasing political trust and legitimacy


  • Swiss digital platform for local petitions
  • 'I luag uf di': Austrian digital tool to collect citizens' suggestions and complaints

‘Don’t forget the humans!’ If we’ve learned anything from the e-government initiatives of the last twenty years, it’s that technology is the least of our problems. It’s an enabling factor, a necessary prerequisite, but one that is generally present. If digitisation fails, the cause is usually humans. So it’s time to go beyond our fascination with technology and think about concrete implementation – together with the people who will be using these technologies.

Dr. Ali A. Guenduez, Head Smart Government Lab, University of St.Gallen

Smart Government enablers

Leadership and Strategy

Smart government requires cross-departmental leadership and strategy prioritising and committing to concrete objectives and investments – based on a broad and challenging alignment process.

Organisational Transformation

New tasks:
Public administration needs to perform new tasks and give temporary impetus to centralisation to push the transformation and bundle resources.

New capabilities:
Public administration needs to develop new capabilities. This requires dedicated investments.

New cultural and service design principles: 
Smart government requires new cultural and service design principles focusing on innovation, agility and entrepreneurship, datadriven culture, collaboration and digital solution design.

New HR approach:
Public administrations must adapt their recruiting and training criteria and career models to respond to emerging new skill requirements.

Public discourse and awareness

Political commitment and public discourse:
Smart government is a long-term mission entailing initial investment, certain risks and a degree of resentment. This calls for strong political commitment and public discourse.

Digital awareness in society: 
Digital awareness is a prerequisite for smart government, and citizens must be empowered to participate in smart government solutions.

Nationwide cooperation

Clear nationwide governance: 
Smart government requires nationwide collaboration within the political system. Roles and mandates therefore need to be clearly defined to avoid redundancies and unaligned investment and assure legal foundations and compatible technical systems.

Regulatory alignment: 
Uncertainty about legal and data protection implications hinders smart government. A nationwide effort to identify regulatory needs is necessary.

IT infrastructure and standards:
To scale up benefits, authorities need to intensify collaboration in procurement, design and hosting and invest more in interoperable, modular and re-usablesolutions. 

How can PwC help? 

Our experts have gathered a wealth of experience in digital transformation and smart government, both in Switzerland and internationally. They’ll be happy to discuss and share this experience with you. The support we’ve provided to clients in public administration and other sectors in Switzerland and abroad ranges from: 

  • Digital maturity assessments 
  • Digital strategies
  • Digital solutions 
  • Digital transformation programmes
  • Setting up digital offices
  • Design and implementation of new business models

Contact us

Gustav Baldinger

Gustav Baldinger

Partner and Advisory Services Leader, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 16 13

Sebastian Singler

Sebastian Singler

Director, Government Strategy and Transformation, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 79 571 18 96