The United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV), based in the city of Guimarães, northern Portugal, is a policy-oriented think tank dedicated to Electronic Governance; a core centre of research, advisory services and training; a bridge between research and public policies; an innovation enhancer; a solid partner within the UN system and its Member States with a particular focus on sustainable development, social inclusion, and active citizenship.

The Operating Unit strives to cement its role as an international reference of excellence in this area, bringing together multidisciplinary and multicultural teams around complex problems and emerging challenges. It is a multidisciplinary organisation of scholars interested in, and dedicated to, the study and examination of the development and impact of “digital governance and government” (Electronic Governance or EGOV) in order to propose sound policy-driven research. EGOV fosters the use of digital technologies to enhance and support public operations and policies, citizen involvement and participation, develop sustainable cities, and provide an inclusive public service.

Such as private industries, the public sector is investing and using more and more analytics, mobility, emerging technologies, social media, and smart devices to transform their comprehensive service delivery. These are changing the external relationship with citizens and other stakeholders, as well as the internal business processes and operations to take benefits of the new technological capabilities. However, while digital transformation presents new opportunities, it also creates new challenges.

Establishment and Background

The establishment of UNU-EGOV was approved, and the UNU-EGOV Statute was adopted, by the UNU Council during its 61st session on 12 May 2014, in Rome. The signing of the Host Country Agreement and Bilateral Agreement between the UNU and the Portuguese Republic took place on 23 May 2014, in Lisbon. It was signed by the Rector of UNU, Dr David Malone, and by (then) Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and for Regional Development, Prof. Miguel Poiares Maduro. The signing took place in the presence of Pedro Passos Coelho, Prime Minister of Portugal.

The agreements regulate, among others, the provision of the operating and capital contributions by the Portuguese Republic, and the provision of the premises, personnel, and infrastructure by the University of Minho. The latter are detailed in the Cooperation Agreement between the UNU and the University of Minho, which was signed on 27 October 2014, in Guimarães.

The Operating Unit builds upon a decade of Electronic Governance work carried out through the EGOV Programme at the former International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST, now UNU-CS), which was located in Macau. UNU-EGOV commenced its operations in July 2014 following the appointment and relocation from Macau to Guimarães of former members of this programme.