Digital Discussion spotlight: Barbara-Chiara Ubaldi, Head of Digital Government and Data Unit at the OECD

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Barbara Ubaldi is the Head of Digital Government and Data Unit at the OECD, where she has worked since 2009. We will be shining our spotlight on her impressive career prior to our upcoming Digital Discussion on March 10, where she is one of the high-level international panelists discussing digitalisation challenges and national digital strategies of Estonia, Singapore, the UK, and the OECD.

Secure your spot at the Digital Discussion here.

Having worked with the OECD for 13 years and counting, Barabara has taken on diverse roles and projects. She leads the OECD’s works on digital government, open government data, and data-driven public sectors. Among others, she is also responsible for country reviews and OECD recommendations monitoring. In that regard, she has managed several thematic reviews on digital government and open government data and was also behind the launching of the OECD’s project on data-driven public sectors. 

Prior to working at the OECD, Barbara had served for over six years as a programme officer at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Beyond her professional role at OECD, Barbara continues to be an active voice in global digital transformation and digital governance. She was named one of 2018 World’s 100 most influential people and 2019 top 20 most influential people in Digital Government worldwide by Apolitical. A Fulbright Scholar, Barbara holds an MS in Law, Policy and Society, Business and Public Administration from Northeastern University.

Can Open Data help solve crises?

Barbara strongly believes that how governments respond to crises reflects how prepared they are for what-ifs and what-mays. It is her thought that Open Data CAN help governments manage crises effectively. Still, the question is, are governments actually ready and able to act upon the available data to respond swiftly to complex situations? In her article titled Can Open Data help governments in time of crisis?, published in June 2020, Babara confirmed that the COVID-19 had made governments realise just how crucial data is as an asset.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed a reality that governments have increasingly come to understand: data are a key asset that can help them shape their actions based on facts rather than on politics, emotions, and speculations. The crisis has reiterated the important role of the State in handling complex, fast-evolving situations and that good governance and sound management of public resources are essential for maintaining public trust in difficult moments,” she wrote. 

No solution fits all situations

From the healthcare sector to the security sector, the debate on personalised solutions is a recurrent theme. Barbara is on the side that, truly, no solution fits all situations. According to her, the same mix of ingredients does not necessarily lead to the same cake. 

 “I have engaged in numerous projects with several countries around the world. If there is one lesson I’d like to share, it is that there is no solution that fits all situations. This is not a new lesson to me as, coming from the development cooperation world, over ten years of working with the UN taught me to always remember how important it is not to fall into the trap of believing that what works in one place would necessarily work in another,” she said to GovInsider. 

“Even though it might seem less obvious in countries where the overall environment appears similar, digital government strategies and governance frameworks perfect for one country are not necessarily adequate in another, as specific contextual factors may require different approaches,” she affirmed.

Barbara Ubaldi is among the panelists of the next e-Estonia Digital Discussion on March 10 at 3 pm (GMT+2), titled: Digital – the only superpower you really need?
Register here.

Written by
Blessing Oyetunde

Co-author and postgraduate student


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