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Government after shock Belgian sessions

Last week there was the #govaftershock sessions

First day was the national one, the next day the international one.

Here is my take on these days, as part of the TOKVIL public innovation lab

First a resume, than my take



NIDO labs from BOSA, as the contact point for the OECD, organised a session last Tuesday.

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)

Health scenarios

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.



Social security design project

The social security department is in the mid of a foresight project, details to be found here:

What to keep?

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


My take

- 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 crisi 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

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