By Devon Rowe, Executive Director at CARICAD G lobally, COVID-19 created a major difficulty for normal life as we know it. Multiple deaths have been recorded, countries placed on lockdown and economic challenges have emerged. COVID-19 has created uncertainty for a return to normality. An increasing view is that “normal” will be defined differently in a post-COVID-19 future. COVID-19 has thrust remote work or working from home to the centre of attention as a necessary alternative to work at the office. Remote work, as the name suggests, is an arrangement that allows employees to work from locations other than their usual office. Importantly, technology is available to support the functionality of remote work and some are making the best use of it. Increased attention is also being given to ensure secure access to information stored on servers, or in the cloud to support working remotely. However, it must also be recognised that the technology for remote work depends on the provision of cost-effective and stable Internet service and electricity supply. Across the region, various attempts are being made to take advantage of the technology to work remotely. Whilst recognising that some jobs will be difficult to digitise, it is evident that progress with Digital Government has been met with various levels of success; but, not enough for the creation of a resilient public service that provides citizens with access to service. COVID -19, and the restrictions emanating, have once again established the need to increase the pace of implementation of digital government. The study, “Wait No More: Citizens, Red Tape, and Digital Government, Caribbean Edition”, conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank, with input and feedback from CARICAD, indicates that, “In the Caribbean, however, government transactions are often headaches: on average, they take more than four hours to complete, and more than 30 per cent of transactions require three or more visits to public offices”. The implication is that during “normal times” significant amount of human interaction is required. According to the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies, digital government may be defined as, “the use of digital technologies, as an integrated part of governments’ modernisation strategies, to create public value. It relies on a digital government ecosystem comprised of government actors, non-governmental organisations, businesses, citizens’ associations and individuals which supports the production of and access to data, services and content through interactions with the government”.  Continues on next page 12

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