Technical Debt Management: A Systematic Literature Review and Research Agenda for Digital Government

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 12219)


Technical debt is created when software engineers knowingly or unknowingly introduce shortcuts or unsuitable choices in the development or maintenance of the software system, that will have a negative impact on the future evolution of the system until corrected. Therefore, it is crucial to manage established debt particular in the public sector. The aim of this study is to introduce Technical debt to the field of Digital Government. We create an overview of the state of the art of the knowledge on technical debt management, the methods applied to gain this knowledge, and propose a research agenda to Digital Government scholars. We conduct a systematic literature review, which focuses on the concept of technical debt management. Forty-nine papers published within 2017–2020 are selected and analyzed. We identify several gaps in the existing literature: 1) an absence of theory explaining the relation of events, 2) a shortage of studies conducted in the public sector, 3) and an absence of specific techniques such as observation to study actual technical debt management behavior.


Technical Debt Management Managing legacy systems Systematic literature review Technical debt 



This study is funded by the Research Centre for Government IT, which is a collaboration between the IT University of Copenhagen, the Danish Digitization Agency and the self-owned institution ATP. The Research Centre’s external funding partners were not involved in the research presented herein, or its dissemination.


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© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The IT University of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Research Centre for Government ITCopenhagenDenmark

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