Lack of digital government services and infrastructure hampers engagement, efficiency, and agility.

The pandemic has shown the value of joined up, coherent communication and interactions between the government, individuals, and businesses. This has been hampered by the lack of a unified digital strategy for government. This problem has manifested itself in several ways, from the lack of financial support being made available to those self-isolating due to a contact notification from the NHSCOVID19 track and trace app, to the paperwork and bureaucracy slowing down vaccination rates compared to some other countries. Israel‚’s highly digitised healthcare system, with electronic medical record systems (EMR) used by most hospitals, has been an important factor in the rapid progress of their vaccination programme. Conversely, the fact that the NHSCOVID19 app was a stand-alone system not linked to any other government systems was a significant factor in initially excluding people who were told to isolate by the app from receiving financial support. The UK government has had to effectively outsource the distribution of support to employers and banks, partly because the tax system which interfaces with these companies is among the better digital offerings provided by the government, but also because there were limited alternative options due to lack of digital engagement with citizens in any other way. At a time when government and private sector resources were stretched to breaking point by limits on staff numbers allowed in offices, and high numbers of staff illness/isolation, it was impractical to use telephony or in person services to deal with the challenges presented by the pandemic. Another good example is the delays to passport processing in early summer. These examples show that the government desperately needs a central digital portal through which citizens and companies can self-serve, and interact in efficient, socially distanced ways.




%d bloggers like this: