East Flanders goes smart digital

Renewed partnership with the Province of East Flanders sets its sights on ‘Smart Government’  

The Province of East Flanders recently extended its Prime Foundation Partnership and opted for a new, digital direction. Over the next three years, the province aims to achieve its Smart Government ambitions. Vlerick is helping the province to shape the strategic change process.

The eGov Provincial Internally Autonomous Agency (eGov PIAA), which was established by the Province of East Flanders to provide East Flemish local authorities with ICT-related support, is certainly not new to digitalisation. However, as in the private sector, this will also require government bodies to undergo a growth process. ‘Previously, we responded primarily to technological innovations which were presented to us by our target groups, namely local authorities such as cities, municipalities and Public Centres for Social Welfare,’ says Dirk Goeminne, who is jointly responsible for the Smart Government project at the eGov PIAA. ‘We reached a certain level of maturity following the well-known path of “trial & error”. Our digitalisation is not dictated by technology, but rather by the output required by the various target groups. As a result, we have had to reverse our thought process: we base our actions on our mission, check this against the policy and then see how we can tailor this to our target groups.’

Dirk Goeminne, jointly responsible for the Smart Government project at the eGov PIIA: ‘We wish to achieve a horizontal exchange of information with our stakeholders at various levels, from a European level all the way down to that of the individual citizen.’

Horizontal exchange of information

The eGov PIIA aims to tailor its ICT services more specifically to the local authorities through the Smart Government project. ‘Currently, public sector information is distributed across various administrative levels, on various platforms, with mainly vertical information flows between them,’ explains Dirk Goeminne. ‘We aim to use the Smart Government project to contribute to the development of a demand-oriented information architecture which is complementary across the various administrative levels and also focuses on participation by citizens and entrepreneurs. Our direct stakeholders for this horizontal exchange of information are the East Flemish local authorities and our own provincial administration. However, the project also ties in with a wider Flemish objective, namely the Flanders Radical Digital policy ambition which specifies that it must be possible to carry out all transactions with government bodies digitally by 2010, based on drastic simplification and information-driven digitalisation.’


Not only does the Smart Government project mean that the eGov PIIA will need to review its own ICT processes; the strategic processes (both internal and external) will also require scrutiny. ‘As a result, the renewed partnership with Vlerick is not based on technology,’ emphasises Dirk. ‘We like the way in which the School adopts a strategic approach to digital transformation. How do you tackle that within your organisation in practical terms? We are also curious to find out how other organisations implement these inter-organisational change processes.’

Stijn Viaene, Technology & Operations professor and Vlerick partner: ‘Learning by doing: that’s our mantra.’


‘For Vlerick, this is also where the added value lies in this partnership,’ emphasises Stijn Viaene, Technology & Operations professor and Vlerick partner. ‘In the eGov PIIA, we have found a research partner who is keen on co-creation. We are always on the look-out for partners like this. ICT – which you could readily refer to as digital – is an important lever for achieving a Smart Government ambition. And indeed, this not a technology-driven concept. The starting points are the government’s ambition and the needs of its stakeholders within the ecosystem. Together, we are trying to establish the “digital strategy” concept in a practical way, project by project. Learning by doing: that’s our mantra.’