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German Digital Council: An ‘Inside-Out’ Case Study

German Digital Council: An ‘Inside-Out’ Case Study

Report offers window into innovative expert council model


In 2018, German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel appointed a group of nine scholars and practitioners, including BKC’s Urs Gasser, to the German Digital Council (GDC). The GDC was formed with the unusual mission to ask both critical and constructive questions about government projects from a digital perspective, to alert the government to new technical and economic developments, and operate as a symbol for 'digitalization' during its interactions with the government.

While the GDC has made significant contributions since its founding, its operation has been fairly opaque; this opacity was an intentional part of the GDC’s operational strategy. As a consequence, the basic design, structure, operation, and impact of the GDC have not been easily accessible beyond a relatively small group of involved parties. 

At the same time, the unusual mission, composition, and mode of operation of the GDC have been met with interest from governments around the world and other stakeholders that are confronted with the question of how to bring outside expertise into the workings of a government. 

This case study is an attempt to bridge this knowledge gap by documenting and sharing some of the important and, thus far, undocumented details about the formation and operation of the GDC. The insights shared are based on a series of group and individual interviews that the authors conducted with members of the GDC and members of the Chancellery that worked closely with the GDC.

German Digital Council: An “Inside-Out” Case Study is an output of the BKC Policy Practice, a program that helps governmental, nonprofit, and private sector organizations work through challenging questions related to technology and society. 

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