15 recommendations for the government in the field of digitalization

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The Open Society Fund Prague has been one of the leading organizations in the NGO initiative working on the digital agenda, it has helped present recommendations and priorities in the area of digitization to the negotiating teams of the coalition partners forming the government. Experts from NGOs worked with academics and the private sector to develop them.

Both coalitions, which are negotiating the formation of the government these days, promise in their election programs to accelerate the digital transformation of the state,” says Josef Šmída from the Open Society Fund Prague, which collaborated on the recommendations with, among others, the Czech open data community. “If the incoming government wants to finally kick-start digitalization, which will simplify the lives of citizens and help make the functioning of the state administration more efficient, it must proceed systematically and set clear priorities in its program declaration,” Šmída adds.

In the Czech Republic, the production of strategies, analyses, and declarations, which were then put into practice, rather than user-friendly digital services for citizens, has been more successful in the last decade. According to Josef Šmída, the government has done a lot of work in recent years, but the benefits for citizens have been limited. The Czech Republic is still losing its breath compared to successfully digitizing countries. The blame lies mainly with the resorts often cited by experts, obstacles in legislation, poor state personnel policy leading to a lack of experts, and, above all, the lack of prioritization of state digitization by the government.

Expert proposal of priority steps for the future government to accelerate the digital transformation of the country

  1. Ensure a systematic collection of feedback to enable users of digital services (citizens, businesses and civil servants) to highlight shortcomings and make suggestions for improvement.
  2. Define a digital service standard that will enable a rapid assessment of the efficiency of public service delivery processes and internal government processes. The fulfilment of the digital service standard must be ensured for existing and emerging services and evaluated on an ongoing basis.
  3. Ensure a single user interface (front-end) for all available and emerging digital services for citizens and businesses. All digital services will be user-friendly and accessible.
  4. Identify 5-10 priority public services that can be rapidly digitised and have a high potential for user simplification. Simplify processes, set clear metrics (KPIs) for them, set firm launch dates and link rewards for civil servants working on service transformation to their implementation.
  5. Establish a central competence center for digital transformation reporting to the responsible Deputy Prime Minister or Minister. The team will mainly have an expert and consultative role and will be composed of business analysts, user-experience experts, and architects who will help with the implementation of digital transformation in central offices and close cooperation with their staff. The team will act as consultants to collaborate on the project, oversee the coherence of legislation and the implementation of standards, and assist with the exchange of information across government.
  6. Conduct an immediate and thorough inventory of existing processes (legislative amendments, agenda announcements, internal management acts) that govern the performance of each central authority’s agenda.
  7. Include all priority legislative changes in the area of digital transformation in the 2022 legislative work plan.
  8. Ensure that emerging legislation is obliged to comply with the Principles of Digital Friendly Legislation by including them in the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA). At the same time, improve the quality of the RIA process and consistently follow its conclusions.
  9. All new and upgraded digital services will be demonstrably tested in person by the Minister, officials, and the public before launch.
  10. To implement a continuous awareness-raising communication campaign towards the public and officials about the functioning and possibilities of eGovernment.
  11. By amending the Civil Service Law, make the employment of persons outside the public administration more flexible and faster and allow exemptions from the required educational qualifications to ensure the staff capacity needed for the digital transformation. Motivate experts with adequate financial remuneration.
  12. Encourage information sharing within the government. Ensure the establishment of basic communication channels to enable effective sharing of information on transformation, existing and emerging information systems, and good practices across government (e.g. in the form of an internal wiki, discussion forum, and other channels).
  13. Ensure training and competence development in the civil service in the areas of agile approach and management, service design, and innovation. Actively promote the sharing of experiences from abroad.
  14. Develop digital literacy of citizens in all forms of education.
  15. To create and strengthen a supportive environment for public administration so that new ideas, innovation, and room for error are welcomed and are essential for the future development of the organization. Encourage individual proactivity of civil servants to help the development of digital government.