VP Breakfast | The digitization of the administration ‘outwards’ and ‘inwards’, an urgent challenge

VALENCIA. The need to advance in the digitization of public administration was the driving force behind the last informative breakfast organized by Valencia Square and Laberit. A meeting that took place in one of the rooms located in the SH Valencia Palace hotel and that brought together a large representation of the Generalitat Valenciana to discuss, precisely, the strengths and weaknesses of the regional administration in digitization both ‘inwards’ -in its internal procedures- and ‘outwards’ -towards the citizen-.

The meeting was attended by Lãberit, its CEO Carlos Pujadas and its CEO Ferdinand Mark. And on behalf of the Generalitat, the meeting was attended by the deputy director general of Teacher Training, Carlos Sanchez; the General Director of Relations with the EU and the State, Daria Terradez; the General Director of Information Technology and Communications, Jose Manuel Garcia Duarte; the general manager for Society Advance Digital, Juan Ignacio Torregrosa Lopez; the General Director of Planning, Technological Efficiency and Patient Care, Basin Plains; the director of External Relations of Ivace, Jordi Sebastia; the general director of Entrepreneurship and Cooperativism, Theresa Garcia; the General Director of Internationalization, Dolores Parra; and the General Director of Local Administration, toni such.

The CEO of Lãberit opened the breakfast by referring to the impact of the pandemic on the transition towards greater digitization, thus explaining that “progress” has been made that “was going to take five years” and had to be “done in three months” . “The impact was brutal in everything”, explained Carlos Pujadas in this sense. He also took advantage of his intervention to underline the need to promote training in technological sectors and especially lamented the “shortage of women” in the university, where they make up 10% of the student body. “We have to convince the women at school that they can contribute a lot.”

In addition, Pujadas pointed out the “administrative digitization of the administration” as one of the challenges for the immediate future. Precisely about this, the general director of Entrepreneurship and Cooperativism, Theresa GarciaHe stressed that Ivace and the employment agency of the Generalitat Labora have opted “very strongly” for teleworking and for advancing in telematic procedures. Thus, he put on the table projects in his area, such as the single access channel to put entrepreneurial agents in contact, and recalled the aid to the cooperative sector for digital transformation.

To the thread, the general director of Internationalization, Dolores ParraHe admitted that as a consequence of the pandemic he had to “adapt the offer” of his department to digitization, for example in terms of seminars. In his opinion, “all the possibilities must be exploited” between the telematic and the face-to-face: “It has to be a mix because the opportunities are different and you have to take advantage of them all”.

Along these lines, “when you propose solutions, private companies are very fast,” he said, but recalled that the administration does not have the same speed due to the timing of the tenders: “The speeds have been different.” Likewise, he stressed that “things” have been “re-adapted” whose attendance was not necessary. And as for Ivace, he pointed to the “giant steps” taken in terms of cybersecurity and “zero paper”.

Thus, the Director of External Relations of Ivace, Jordi SebastiaHe indicated that the organization “was more or less prepared” and agreed with other representatives that it is necessary to “strengthen the mix” between face-to-face and digital. “Now people value personal meetings more than before, but on the other hand digitization works very well” in some cases for offering previously unexplored opportunities, he said: “Now the congresses we are holding are already proposed in a hybrid format.”

For his part, the General Director of Local Administration, toni talHe asserted that the municipalities “have been adapting to the situation, many of them with hammer blows”, endorsing that the pandemic has accelerated “processes that were delayed”. The work of his department, she said, is focused on “joining efforts so that administrative processes are digitized according to the needs of citizens.” In his opinion, we must move towards the unification of digital and telematic processes. He also said that “a great deal of progress has been made in terms of hiring”, and pointed out that currently another “issue that worries him” is that of cybersecurity, since many administrations have recently suffered computer attacks.

In health matters, the General Director of Planning, Technological Efficiency and Patient Care, Basin PlainsHe pointed out that there has been a “paradigm change” because we have to go from “a health system to a health system” where “only patients are not present”. Thus, for greater digitalization, he pointed out as requirements a “robust” infrastructure -during the pandemic they went from 42,000 calls to 1.5 million-, take into account the staff -“we can automate systems, but we have to have people behind”- , and train officials to use the new systems. In his opinion, “the digital is one more channel” because “it has not replaced the face-to-face”.

For her part, the General Director of Relations with the EU and the State, Daria TerradezHe recalled that the administrations have a mandate since 2015, when regulations were approved at European level, to digitize the entire administrative procedure and its dealings with the citizen. “We are already late for that and the pandemic made us speed up,” said the general director, adding that “even in the Generalitat there are many people who are reluctant to use zero paper because we are from the paper generation.” However, she emphasized that the Generalitat has had to implement a very strict teleworking plan for the Consell delegation in Brussels due to the forceful restrictions that were imposed in Belgium to deal with covid.

About the 2015 regulations, the General Director of Information Technology and Communications, Jose Manuel Garcia Duartehe pointed out that the law “is fine” but “if there is no compromise, it is impossible”. In this regard, he said that the Valencian Government received a digitized administration, but “digitalized from the 90s” with “old procedures and without taking into account the paradigms of today: the citizen, the civil servant, etc.” In his opinion, “efficiency was missing.” And in that sense, he was proud of having advanced “a great deal” and highlighted the “great success” experienced in this regard during the pandemic, and due in large part to prior planning.

Thus, the general manager for Society Advance Digital, Juan Ignacio Torregrosa Lopezstressed that digitization must serve “to improve services, not to replace them”. He explained that digitization is configured “according to economic and social conditions” so “when the pandemic is over, we don’t have to continue doing the same thing.” For example, he urged to take into account that today 40% of the population “does not have digital skills.” So, in addition to improving the infrastructures as the Generalitat is already doing, it is necessary to influence “the training of citizens and reduce the digital divide”.

In the field of education, the Deputy Director General for Teacher Training, Carlos SanchezHe explained the Ministry’s plan to assign one person to every five centers to “advance digital skills”. They also want to provide the training curriculum with a “transversality” so that “in all subjects there are digital tools”. In the end, it seeks to “train the process and that this has repercussions in the classroom, and from there change the panorama.” Sánchez also stressed that a concern now is the emotional field of the students, so “there will be operating guidelines for tutors to deal with” issues such as communication difficulties and that these “are reduced to a minimum.”

On the adaptation of civil servants to this digital transition, García Duarte spoke of the revision of the Access to the public function that the Ministry of Justice is doing and Torregrosa stressed the importance of the soft skillsalthough in the end he admitted that public employees “must be demanded but also to the extent that we can be able to train people”. In his opinion, “digitization cannot be a barrier” and it must be made to be understood by “the manager and the administrator” so that “they can feel comfortable”. In short, he pointed out, “the smart thing is to make people understand that digitization can help you.”