Airada Luangvilai, Senior Executive Vice President, Digital Government Development Agency, Thailand

By Nurfilzah Rohaidi

Women in GovTech Special Report 2019.

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

The Digital Government Development Agency is the central agency responsible for driving digital government transformation in Thailand. Transforming the operations and services of government digitally helps facilitate citizens’ access to government’s services based on their personalised needs anywhere anytime, enhance government’s transparency, reduce inequality between the haves and the haves-not and improve the country’s competitiveness.

Digital One Stop Service for both the business sector and citizens have been developed and will be continuously improved based on the user-centric approach. The coherent policy is already in place and we are determined to implement it to the best of our ability.

Moreover, digital technology becomes a tool for citizens to scrutinise the government with only their fingertips. We compile raw government data on government revenue and millions of procurement projects around the country, then perform data analytics and present it in easy-to-understand formats such as dashboards, maps and infographics.

Citizens from all socio-economic backgrounds can easily access and understand the data which enables them to perform their duties as citizens with dignity.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2019?

In 2019, the Digitalisation of Public Administration and Service Delivery Act, B.E. 2562 (2019), which is the first digital government law in Thailand, comes into force. The Act sets the solid legal framework for digital government transformation in Thailand.

It focuses on three major areas. The first one is digitalisation of working processes and services based on the citizen-centric approach. The second area is data integration between government agencies in order to provide comprehensive digital services for citizens and businesses. The third focus area is open government data in machine-readable formats to enable citizens and entrepreneurs to reuse and develop innovations.

We worked hard in 2019 to publicise its substance and spirit among government officials. However, plans, rules and standards to amplify the provisions of the Act are being formulated. Once all plans, rules and standards are approved and enacted, we move one big step closer to successful digital government transformation.

What is the best thing you have experienced in your career?

Normally, government agencies have always been criticised for being slow and inefficient in providing services for citizens and the business sector. However, during my career as staff and executive of the agency responsible for driving digital government in Thailand, I have had opportunities to work with government officials at both the executive and operational levels trying to the best of their abilities to utilise digital technologies to elevate their operations and service delivery.

I realise how difficult it has been to transform the entire government into the digital world, but working with enthusiastic government officials help lift my spirit and determination to lay a very strong foundation for the bright future of my country.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you have learned in 2019, what would it be?

Technology per se is significant in digital government transformation. However, the more significant issue is technology governance. No matter how advanced technology is, it must be properly used with clear duties and responsibilities of stakeholders. Appropriate rules and regulations must also be formulated and enforced.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2020?

To develop a comprehensive digital One Stop Service for citizens and the business sectors, many components must be integrated such as UX/UI design, process simplification and digitalisation, and data integration. However, the most significant missing puzzle is Digital ID. If this part is complete, hopefully in 2020, citizens and the business sector will be able to authenticate themselves when they wish to access government’s digital services securely.

What are your priorities for 2020?

Development of One Stop Service for citizens in Thailand is the government’s and my top priority for 2020. It is time for Thai citizens to be able to access government services via digital means through a single channel. Their burdens and confusion must be substantially reduced. We prioritise services related to welfare.

What is one challenge you would like to take on in 2020?

Actually, there are various challenges to digital government transformation. The most significant one is government officials’ digital skills and mindset. The Thailand Digital Government Academy or TDGA under the DGA is established to take on this challenge by providing various training courses for government officials at every level.

The topics covered in the courses include, but are not limited to, digital government policies, digital laws, data analytics and data governance, design thinking and cyber security.

What has been your fondest memory from the past year?

In September 2019 I received the Jantima Award from the International Academy of CIOs. I was so honoured to receive the award because it is the recognition of my perseverance and determination to transform the operations and services of the Thai government into digital government. It is also the result of great dedication of my staff and support and co-operation from various government agencies.

The award provides me with the motivation in maintaining my hard work for the benefits and well-being of our people and our country.