Oxford Insights'


by Richard Stirling, Hannah Miller and Emma Martinho-Truswell

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Artificial intelligence (AI) will revolutionise public service delivery. Governments around the world are starting to see its enormous potential: for their economies, their societies, and their own public services. Until now, most research has focused on the technical implementation and likely impacts of AI. We asked a different question: how well-placed are the national governments in the OECD to take advantage of the benefits of automation in their operations?

We have created a world-first Government AI Readiness Index (full raning below) to capture the current capacity of OECD governments to absorb - and exploit - the innovative potential of AI.

 Our unique index captures the vital first stage of implementing AI: capacity, or readiness, for governments to introduce AI in public service delivery

Our unique index captures the vital first stage of implementing AI: capacity, or readiness, for governments to introduce AI in public service delivery

Our unique Government AI Readiness Index provides an overall estimate for how prepared each country’s national government is for implementing AI in public service delivery. It comprises nine input metrics, ranging from in-country digital skills and government innovation to existing data capabilities. The Index highlights which countries have some way to go before they are ready for the AI revolution, and identifies possible areas of improvement for every OECD government, regardless of ranking.

The factors we considered

Public service reform


Global Innovation Index

Making progress on AI requires business as usual to change. If an innovative mindset is present in government, it should be picked up by general public service innovation indices.

Digital public services

UN eGovernment Survey

Government effectiveness

World Bank

Economy and skills


Tufts’ Digital Evolution Index

It is vital to have the necessary skills in the workforce to be able to identify where AI should and should not be used, and to help build effective tools and systems. Increasing investment by government can stimulate the supply of skills in the economy and prompt demand from large companies in the private sector. AI startups reflect grassroots innovation and development, and a thriving tech sector.

Technology skills

UN eGovernment Survey

AI startups


Digital infrastructure

Quality of data

UN eGovernment Survey

Artificial intelligence systems are build on data. Therefore the quality and availability of data and the ability of a government to work with it effectively are critical.

Available data

OECD OURdata Index

Data capability

Open Data Barometer

Government AI readiness is a new area, and Oxford Insights looks forward to refining our methodology. We welcome any comments and suggestions at research@oxfordinsights.com. We plan to publish the Index annually; in 2018 we intend to include new data, a wider range of indicators, and a longer list of countries.


The UK is first in our rankings, reflecting its world-leading centres for AI research and strong technology industry. Although the UK has great starting conditions for AI development, it faces stiff competition from other countries seeking to be top of the global rankings. China, the US, Russia and Canada have all announced plans to be world leaders in AI. If the UK wishes to retain its high ranking in our capacity index, the government will need to continue to invest in order to remain competitive in future years.

The US lags behind the UK on measures including digital skills and data quality. Our index highlights a number of key areas for investment if the US is to prepare better for the AI revolution, such as a stronger focus on digital skills training and data infrastructure. Although the US is likely to continue to do well due to tech clusters such as Silicon Valley, without government focus and investment the digital skills gap will continue to grow. As a result, the US will need to import more and more AI experts, potentially missing out on developing in-country talent.

We also found that there is no clear geographical clustering in terms of AI readiness: the top five ranked countries are from North America, Europe and Asia. The expertise and conditions needed to capitalise on AI’s potential are not area-specific, which suggests that many other governments are well-placed to begin climbing up the rankings. Estonia’s e-government drive, for example, shows what may be possible with other smaller countries, and has helped it to perform well on grass-roots indicators of innovation such as digital skills and AI startups.

Our Government AI Readiness Index provides a timely insight into the capacity of governments to capitalise on the innovative potential of AI. We hope it also offers a useful starting point for policymakers seeking focus areas in their drive for AI readiness. We believe that AI offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform the public services of the future. It is now up to governments to ensure that they are well placed to take best possible advantage of the AI revolution.

If you'd like to discuss creating an AI strategy for your government or organisation and what kind of help Oxford Insights can offer, get in touch with us: email richard@oxfordinsights.com or emma@oxfordinsights.com


Which tasks will be handed over to machines? And how should governments spend the labor time saved by artificial intelligence?


Our Chief Operating Officer, Emma Martinho-Truswell, writes on How AI Could Help the Public Sector in the Harvard Business Review

The Oxford Insights Government AI Readiness ranking

Country AI Rank Index
UNITED KINGDOM 1 8.400058212
UNITED STATES 2 8.209167474
CANADA 3 7.863319516
KOREA 4 7.812407479
NETHERLANDS 5 7.761905159
FRANCE 6 7.744355794
JAPAN 7 7.597518368
AUSTRALIA 8 7.476332505
NEW ZEALAND 9 7.377215052
FINLAND 10 7.370989308
SWEDEN 11 7.186223717
SPAIN 12 7.179790582
GERMANY 13 6.959504184
ISRAEL 14 6.936561239
NORWAY 15 6.918981969
AUSTRIA 16 6.839885315
IRELAND 17 6.697854762
BELGIUM 18 6.611947802
ITALY 19 6.580167739
SWITZERLAND 20 6.52356742
DENMARK 21 6.399736836
MEXICO 22 6.191226484
ESTONIA 23 6.189188638
POLAND 24 5.903422964
PORTUGAL 25 5.787132218
CZECH REPUBLIC 26 5.778727424
CHILE 27 5.575553631
SLOVENIA 28 5.530326884
GREECE 29 5.506155491
LATVIA 30 4.864024162
TURKEY 31 4.653886802
ICELAND 32 4.584958664
SLOVAK REPUBLIC 33 4.561976147
HUNGARY 34 4.430075881
LUXEMBOURG 35 4.239717633
SOURCE: Oxford Insights

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