What does the Belgian public innovation scene look like?
NIDO labs from BOSA, as the contact point for the OECD, organised a session last Tuesday.
https://governmentaftershock.be/ The aim of the event was to look at different administrations and the way they had coped with Covid-19 and their inroads into innovation. Beforehand the three following questions were taken centrally:
- what do we leave behind as habit?
- what is no longer usable in the current world and should we better stop?
- what do we need to change?
- what new innovations should we cherish, but ask adaptations of the organisation?
- inovation and foresight, not easy because of the timeline (often after a political cycle and even an administrative one)
- innovation and working togehter with external organisations often practiacl bottlenecks in procurement, budget, internal approval by finance responsible, writing of legislation.
- innovation and taxpayers money: are we allowed to do that? (risk - innovation)
The health ministry, Amaury Legrain, has come up with a scenario plan on combatting future health issues; this is based on a network of strategic counsellors that have the objective to have a longterm transversal view.
The vision document highlights:
- more need to understand the way humans work (eg non compliance to covid rules)
- see a pulic service as an investment to the future
- note that bureaucratic processes like HR and public procurement have an impact onn the inflow and quality of public services.
On a more practical level, finance administration has learned that making appointments, instead of simple queing at a service, turned out as something to keep and improve post-covid.
The new minister of public service indicated the willingness to innovate in public service.
- The THOLA platform was used, where everyone had a little customisable avatar; really nice actually, and intuitive; the real interactions happened not on that platform but no a linked ZOOM video; a missed opportunity not to remain in the same platform for the whole event
-it seems that besides silos in public government, another elephant in the room has appeared: the lack of anticipation of a government, and maybe foresight practices that can alleviate this.
- overall it does not seem to me that administrations has a systemic view, or acknowledges systemic failures of administration or state structure organisation to cope. There have been a lot of personal efforts and will, but the 'system' does not seem yet to question itself
- the exercise of 'impact' of decisions or non-decisions of administration during the different phases of the crisis have not been analysed; when a taxation authority dispatches its tax controllers to go and control night shops, this is applauded as a flexiblity. In my view the overall impact of society of this control ca be questioned, as night shops have been the local shops that could stay open during difficult period.
- a fresh and interesting view from the new minister of public authorities; a further discussion with this cabinet is needed.
- hat off for the foresight document of the ministry of health: is really worth a read, and one of the few transversal documents of Belgian public authority