Digital Principles for the Government of British Columbia (Version 1.0)
The Digital Principles are meant to guide the work of individual public servants and vendor partners as the Province of British Columbia continues to evolve into a Digital Government. This includes everything from the day-to-day work of individuals to the design, development and delivery of digital products and services.
The Digital Principles were co-developed with BC public service employees and members of the wider community. The principles are meant to be considered as a set rather than individually as there is purposeful overlap among them. They should also be considered within a wider context, which includes but isn’t limited to:
- Applicable legislation;
- Standards of Conduct for BC Public Service Employees;
- Draft Principles that Guide the Province of British Columbia’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples
- Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+)
The Province’s Digital Principles are:
1. Deliver value for British Columbians & cultivate trust
Recognize that government products and services should ultimately improve people’s lives. Build products and services for outcomes rather than outputs, prioritizing according to citizens’ needs. Use resources judiciously to benefit citizens and BC’s homegrown digital economy. Build trust in every interaction, using data to make fair, ethical and evidence-based decisions.
2. Design with people & embed inclusion
Deliver simple, effective products and services in response to citizens’ needs. Apply human-centered design practices, working directly with people who will use the product or service. Communicate in plain language. Strive to meet the highest standards of accessibility, inclusion and equity. Endeavour to create a seamless experience across government’s various digital and physical channels.
3. Integrate ethics
Take an ethical approach to designing or modifying digital products and services. Evaluate the potential ethical, social, cultural and environmental implications of emerging priorities. Ensure there is clear oversight and documentation for automated decision-making processes (e.g. when using artificial intelligence).
4. Continuously learn & improve
Iterate and improve products and services to support learning and innovation. Use modern tools and approaches. Be flexible to change, even at the last minute. Seek and accept feedback on an ongoing basis. Test early and often. Try to “fail fast” and accept failures as learning opportunities.
5. Work in the open
Collaborate, co-design and co-create with product and service users transparently. Default towards open licenses, open and interoperable standards and open-source code. Share information and data whenever possible.
6. Take an ecosystem approach
Think holistically. Design and deliver forward-thinking, adaptable and scalable solutions. Support interoperability, common components and enterprise approaches. Share work and learnings with the aim of contributing to the wider community. Strive to collect data from users only once, re-using and sharing data whenever possible.
7. Take care of information & data
Act as a trusted information steward. Manage information, including data, as a public asset in accordance with its value and user needs. Strive to improve the quality of information and data. Recognize that people own their personal data and have a stake in how it’s used. Work with citizens to ensure they understand how and why government collects their information.
8. Manage risks proportionately
Promote a risk-balanced approach that addresses security and privacy by design. Recognize risks associated with maintaining the status quo — remember that no decision is also a decision. Design clear and flexible risk-mitigation strategies.
9. Build diverse teams & internal capacity
Empower all public servants and vendor partners to deliver excellent products and services. Create and support teams with diverse skillsets and backgrounds. Enable teams to use technology as an effective collaboration tool. Encourage innovation and controlled experimentation. Build an organizational culture and structure to support constant learning and engagement.
10. Express cultural & historical awareness & respect
Acknowledge the historical relationships, inequity, trauma, and discrimination created by government. Work in the spirit of reconciliation and B.C.’s Draft Principles guiding our relationship with Indigenous peoples. Respect that First Nations have control over data-collection processes in their communities, and that they own their information and control how it can be used.