Digitalization and Emerging Technologies for Resilience and Recovery
The Covid-19 pandemic has put public administration under enormous pressure and has offered opportunities to experiment new practices towards a more agile and resilient public administration. When most Member States went into lock-in, countries with highly digitised public administrations showed more resilience to ensure the continued provision of public services. This Panel sheds light on the digital solutions proposed by EU Member States to guarantee access to public services, ensure continuity of education and support businesses facing difficult economic circumstances. These digital solutions encompass solutions such as mobile applications, online portals, online platforms, information chatbots and information repositories. The implementation and maintenance of these digital solutions has highlighted the crucial role of agile, flexible and resilient public sector IT infrastructures. It also highlighted the need for interoperability between systems and administrations. This panel will examine the main opportunities for and challenges confronting Public administration in the post-Covid era. The panel seeks to answer the following question: what reform trends in digitalization and emerging technologies are relevant in the public administration concerning their resilience and ability to adapt in times of crisis? How public sector organizations ensure effective pursuit of digitalization and digital transformation?
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Public Administration's Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity: COVID-19 as an opportunity to take them seriously
ISCTE – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal
The increasing use of information and communication technologies in the functioning of societies in the aftermath of the measures to control COVID-19 pandemic made citizens, businesses and Public Administration more exposed to threats and risks in cyberspace. With a greater attack surface and the increasing number of cybersecurity incidents it is important to understand whether the digital transformation processes in the Public Administration, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, were followed in pace by the adoption of cybersecurity measures. In this paper we pay particular attention to Portuguese Local Public Administration since it emerges as a driver of new services and new ways of managing those services for citizens. By qualitatively analysing other research, as well data and indicators treated by international and organisations and by resorting to empirical knowledge on these issues, the possibility of carrying out more in-depth studies in this field became open.
Analysing SIFIDE (Portuguese Tax Incentive System for Business R&D) According to the Stage Model
Public policy analysis aims to ascertain the general working processes and principles of public action, its (dis)continuities, the determining factors for its development and potential effects on the societies in which they are enforced, in addition to inquiring into the origin of political problems, into possible solutions and into the desirable conditions for its implementation.
Besides the sophistication and acuity of public policy analysis, several authors argue that public policy should be regarded as the result of a policy cycle that develops in stages (Lasswell, 1956). This phased disaggregation, to be examined per se or in relation to subsequent stages, makes it easier and simpler to understand the exact sequential and reconstructive process, as a result of the changes prompted by the feedback of the public policies themselves and/or by shifts in context and/or by the link between actors and institutions, fostering the beginning of a new political cycle in which the stages (re)emerge (Rodrigues, 2012).
Even though multiple authors have proposed a structured analysis of the political process, according to Rodrigues (2017), the following four stages are common to all the proposals: (i) acknowledging the problem and scheduling, which pertains to the process of recognizing the problem as a political problem, liable to being solved through the intervention of public authorities, and its inclusion in the scheduling process, (ii) designing the policy measure and justifying the decision, which pertains to the process of devising explanatory arguments for political action, in the shape of problem-solving strategies, as well as through the mobilization of their political support bases, (iii) implementation, which consists of the processes of supplying institutional, organizational, bureaucratic and financial resources for the implementation of policy measures, and (iv) assessing and changing the results, which comprise the processes of accompanying and monitoring the action programs, with the purpose of examining their outcomes and impact, the gap between the expected and achieved results, the efficiency and effectiveness of public intervention, as well as the processes of changing the goals and political means in the aftermath of receiving new information, in a specific time and place and with respect to a specific sector of the national, regional or local sphere.
The implementation of the political cycle model must hence be anchored in a socio-politically and scientifically relevant question with a multilevel reach. It is therefore worth noting that the relentless search for better living conditions has led to a surge in the development of cognitive science, which has been adjusted to the operating mode of the material domain. It was at this juncture that the emergence of modern science in Europe in the seventeenth century inscribed itself within the framework of economic and social activity, gathering momentum during the period of growth that framed the transformations brought about by the industrial revolution (Freeman, 1987; Small et al., 2014). Over the centuries, science and technology have come to be regarded as core elements for the definition of development strategies and for the creation of long-term opportunities. Furthermore, scientific knowledge grew considerably in the twentieth century, taking shape in the expansion of science applications and in the reinforcement of the scientific foundations of the processes of technological development (Schot e Steinmueller, 2018, Steinmueller, 2017).
In today’s globalized and highly competitive world, the innovative capacity of countries, regions and organizations derives from their production, endogenization, transfer and scientific and technological knowledge protection skills (EU, 2013, 2014, 2016). State intervention by means of public support to Research and Development (R&D) is thus nowadays a recurrent practice, nationally and internationally, and it is unanimous that investment in R&D is a substantial factor in the development of societies and particularly in the creation of knowledge- and innovation-based economies (Binz e Truffer, 2017).
This article is conducted in accordance with Rodrigues’ stage model (2017), focusing on the national policy instrument that promotes R&D in companies, SIFIDE - Tax Incentive System for Business R&D, coordinated by ANI – National Innovation Agency. There are two factors underlying this choice: its stability and scope as a stimulus measure for the business sector’s participation in R&D efforts, and the growing relative weight of indirect funding on a national and community scales, due to the increased shortage of available public financial resources. SIFIDE enables the deduction of R&D expenses under IRC, which is considered to be the most favourable tax incentive programme in the community framework (Carvalho, 2017; Simões, 2019).
By applying the stage model, it was possible to ascertain that SIFIDE is a cost-effective policy measure, with a positive impact on the increase of national innovative capacity, albeit modest with regards to the political objectives and European targets.
E-Government and Citizen Acceptance: A Comparative Study
The use of new technologies in public organizations has undergone a remarkable evolution in most countries in recent decades, driven by the implementation of ambitious policies to digitalize Public Administration.
The focus has shifted from administrative processes and intra-organizational management to citizen service and inter-organizational management (Osborn, 2010; Osborn et al., 2013). Governments focus on serving citizens, on meeting their expectations, changing the way they operate in order to improve transparency, democratization and public service delivery, focusing on eGovernment, in the face of increasingly demanding and digitally empowered citizens (Mergel et al., 2019).
In Portugal, despite the high level of availability of digital public services, the acceptance of citizens is still below the European average (European Commission, 2021a). What factors may explain that some EU countries have high levels of digitalization and penetration of digital public services?
Based on theoretical principles of New Public Service and New Public Governance as paradigms of public governance (Denhardt & Denhardt, 2007; Osborne, 2010), we intend to understand, using the comparative method, which characteristics of Public Administration are common among countries with high levels of digitalization/ eGovernment penetration (European Commission, 2021a), through the collection and analysis of a set of selected indicators.
The conclusions of this study aim to contribute to an adjustment of the State's digitalization policies that increase the levels of citizens' acceptance to eGovernment.