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The relationship between citizens and public administrations: the road towards transformation

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21 October 2020

The coronavirus crisis that is affecting so many sectors has irremediably placed the focus on how public administrations are managing something that is completely unknown and which has turned national and international public institutions and organizations upside down. Following the first wave and now into the second, public administrations must look beyond the response to this emergency.

They must engage in prevention and anticipation so as to guarantee citizens remain safe as well as the stability of a system being battered by this economic, public health and social crisis. The new relationship between citizens and public administrations forged once this pandemic is over will be essential to understanding this necessary transformation.

To this end, and despite just how negative the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these areas is, public administrations can speed up their transformation based on the indicators that have reflected a positive side because, in all reality, people’s interest in public management and the means for participation in decision-making have only increased.

Something else that has become clear is that all levels of administration have a highly relevant role to perform considering that everything works like a set of gears - what affects one institution directly affects what ends up happening in another down the line. Citizens and public employees have reacted quite positively, have adapted to this wave of changes and are more than prepared to move ahead with a sector-wide transformation. In fact, from a purely technologically side and without any time really to do any testing, the implementation of digital resources has been a complete success. In short, terms such as resilience, omni-channel, simplification, digitization, 360º view of citizens and proactiveness are once again on the public reform agenda.

The effects of COVID-19 will be noticeable for a long time to come.  However, it is now time to make strategic decisions, think ahead and reflect, broadening the scope of participation and collaboration even more and getting all stakeholders possible involved without forgetting to include the term “sustainability” as the means to guarantee a green transformation that is respectful of the UN SDG.

The Citizen/Public Administration Relationship as the Core of this Transformation

In order to do so, we’ve prepared a report aimed at assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the public sector and providing different solutions that may be of use in the public administration transformation process. Besides analyzing this issue, everis also emphasizes how it will change strategy and planning, physical infrastructures, technology and innovation, budgets and public expenditure, transactions as well as organizations and people.

As concerns what we believe is one of the keys to this transformation, the relationship between citizens and public administration, various challenges have arisen which will continue to gain in importance as the pandemic evolves. On the one hand, the need for remote, contactless assistance has been promoted not only to ensure the safety of the people and public employees but also as a means for efficiency and effectiveness within these very same public administrations.  In line with this, communication must become more and more effective and able to generate trust among citizens. On the other hand, adopting models that are not so HR-dependent seems to be fundamental as digital service models continue to be created, particularly when responding to large peaks in demand.

It is also necessary to foster proactiveness in public services in a way that exponentially enhances their value for citizens and drastically increases people’s ability to be more autonomous when needing information or support in order to access the aid, benefits or rights available to them. Another important key is segmenting the people or companies that use these services in order to understand which channels best suit their needs. Finally, relational models must be scalable as the pandemic has highlighted the importance of having service models up and running to absorb immense peaks in demand.

The goal of all of this is to support the public administration transformation by putting citizens first. When looking at the solutions everis offers for this all-new citizen/public administration relationship, there are up to five tools that may encourage and accelerate this process which is already underway: redesigning the digital experience with an analysis of the needs and solutions for enhancing the citizen experience, the  everis Virtual Assistant (eVA), which is essentially a cognitive contact center, CitizenRM, a solution that provides a comprehensive and integrated view of all citizens, new digital service channels and open-government and communication solutions.

In a nutshell, the pandemic has broken down barriers and made urgent certain changes that have been apparent for several years now. This transformation will not be complete and 100% effective if citizens are not treated as the absolute link to public opinion.

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