The COVID-19 crisis: A catalyst for government transformation?

by Maria Bianca Armiento

This OECD policy brief deals with the responses that governments adopted towards Coronavirus in order to verify whether the crisis has become a “catalyst for government transformation”. Nine government activities were identified to this purpose: 

  1. Infection control or tracking measures
  2. Strengthening public communication and data sharing
  3. Adjusting service delivery to the crisis context
  4. Social solidarity and “caremongering”
  5. Leveraging and redeploying existing resources and solutions
  6. Crowdsourcing ideas and solutions through open calls, hackathons and other challenge mechanisms
  7. Adaptive responses by legislatures
  8. Collective learning and sense-making
  9. Structural responses and possible longer-term shifts

After analysing each approach, the brief examines both their significance and their suggestions, especially with regard to the role of the State that should be agile and responsive, the importance of innovation and data-driven policies. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the value of digitalisation and the problems related to the so-called “digital divide”. Finally, the potential implications for government transformations are discussed.