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Frequently Asked Questions

What is GovStack and how to get started

What does GovStack offer?

GovStack offers governments with essential tools for digital services, including building block specifications, a sandbox for testing (upcoming), communities of practices, and more. GovStack also organizes forums for digital changemakers to network with each other and exchange their experiences on introducing eGovernment services through the CIO Digital Leaders Forum.

GovStack solutions can be tailored to individual countries’ needs and be adapted based on future changes.

In addition to these resources, the initiative’s founding members implement projects in selected countries. Become a country collaborator to explore the potential for a GovStack project in your country.

Why should governments use GovStack?

GovStack makes it easier, faster, and more reliable for national, municipal, or local governments to implement digital government services. Additionally, GovStack implementers become part of a global community which support each other in continuously improving their services.

Easier: By defining requirements and testing prototypes, much of the work governments must do to digitize has already been done for them. These free, open-source specifications, in addition to the Building Blocks, are available for any government to use.

Faster: GovStack Building Block specifications and (the forthcoming) Sandbox enable governments to drastically speed up these processes.

More reliable: GovStack technical specifications are designed by leading global experts. When a government digital strategy includes GovStack specifications, they include international best practices. Following the GovStack model can save governments time when defining your basic requirements and building out digital infrastructure.

Learn more about how governments are benefiting from interoperable, reusable, and dynamic building blocks in their digital government through the GovStack CIO Digital Leaders Forum.

Has this been done before?

GovStack scales the proven best practice experiences from digital champions such as Estonia, India, and Singapore. GovStack takes these national best practices and outlines an open-source whole-of-government stack for the digitization of public services.

Learn more about how governments are benefiting from interoperable, reusable, and dynamic building blocks in their digital government through the GovStack CIO Digital Leaders Forum.

What is a building block? Does GovStack develop software?

A building block refers to software code, platforms, and interoperable applications that are interoperable, provide a basic digital service at scale, and can be reused for multiple use cases and contexts. For more detailed definitions, refer to the GovStack definitions.

The GovStack initiative itself does not develop software building blocks, but lays their foundations. Through expert groups, GovStack supports the development of technical specifications – or functional requirement descriptions – for the ICT building blocks necessary for digital administrative services.

Based on these specifications digital products can be developed and existing products can be evaluated for compliance with the requirements as well as adapted, if necessary. Products based on the GovStack specifications will be made available in the Catalog of Digital Solutions.

Based on GovStack specifications, GovStack has put out RFPs to support the development of software.

What is the connection between GovStack and the Digital Public Good Alliance?

GovStack is part of the Digital Public Goods Alliance Roadmap, supporting governments to have capacity to deploy, maintain and evolve DPGs for digital public infrastructure, and the development of a vibrant digital ecosystem.

The Digital Public Goods Alliance is a multi-stakeholder initiative with a mission to accelerate the attainment of the sustainable development goals in low- and middle-income countries by facilitating the discovery, development, use of, and investment in digital public goods.

The DPG registry is a list of solutions that have been certified as DPGs. In addition, the DIAL Catalogue of Digital Solutions is a list of solutions that may be interesting to governments identified from a number of sources, including the DPG Registry. One way to get on the DPG Registry is to be certified as a DPG.

How can governments get started? At what point of the government digital transformation journey does GovStack fit in?

The GovStack Building Blocks and principles can be used for eGovernment services at all levels, including the national, state, municipal, and local levels.

Governments can get started from a variety of different points depending on their objectives, context and needs. GovStack can be used by governments at any stage of their digital journey.

The easiest way to get started is to reach out to the GovStack team via the contact us form, and talk to our colleagues about your needs.

  • Looking for information on the technical specifications of GovStack? Check out the building block specifications.
  • Are your technical experts looking to engage with a community of practice? Visit the Community page to find out where you can get involved or reach out to us to have a conversation.
  • Are you looking for case studies of how countries have applied GovStack principles to digital services? Check out stories from the CIO Digital Leaders Forum.
Can I have an assessment of my governments’ needs?

The GovStack Playbook outlines various assessment frameworks available, such as:

  • UNDP’s Digital Readiness Assessment
  • the World Band’s Digital Economy Assessment
  • USAID’s Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment
  • ITUs 360 Degree Digital Landscape Assessment
  • Digital Economy Index of Smart Africa
  • GIZ assessments
  • and others

Contact us to learn more about assessments and GovStack collaboration opportunities.

How long does it take to design a digital service in a Building Block approach? How long does it take to transform a government service into a digital one?

Each digital transformation journey is unique. And depends on a government’s technological maturity, regulatory and policy environment, and capacity. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government was able to build on its existing digital work to stand up the first iteration of a  coronavirus support service in four days.

Successful implementation of GovStack principles requires working with a diverse set of skills. Depending on a government needs, the following skills may be needed:

  • Policy and regulatory – to ensure that that the policy and regulatory frameworks are compatible with GovStack
  • User centered design – to ensure that developed solutions are inclusive, meet user needs, and impactful
  • Front-end and back-end development – to develop GovStack digital services
  • Security – to ensure that the implemented solutions meets security concerns and ends
Are the specifications binding?

No, the specifications are not binding; they serve as starting points for developers. You might require additional functionalities and you’re free to adjust them as you see fit.

What about security?

Data security and governance is critical for any ICT stack, and especially for the public sector. For this reason, we prioritized the Security Building Block in our very first wave release of specifications.

What is the role of the private sector? How do we identify which service providers to work with?

Private sector actors can be involved in a range of activities in GovStack, from providing skills and services need to design, develop, implement, support and evaluate GovStack digital services.


What does it cost?

GovStack resources, including usage guides, specifications, and code are all published under free licenses for the use of anyone.

Does GovStack provide financing/funding? What resources do you provide to support the implementation?

The GovStack program does not provide monetary funding for implementation. Countries may receive implementation support in the form of expert advice, capacity development, sandbox testing, among other support. For more information about support available, reach out via the contact us form.

Who is responsible for managing risk and liability?

Governments implementing GovStack are responsible for managing risk and liability associated with it.

This just in! Check out our latest GovSpecs publication