What happened during the first phases of the COVID crisis for the innovative public servants? Were they put on a sideline, or did they participate fully? This was the esence of the start of a discussion organised by TOKVIL.BE over lunch during the public innovation week.
The first intervention was Philip De Backer, former MEP, and Belgian minister. He led the Corona task force in the Wilmès government on medical supplies and masks. He has recently published the book "en nu is het Oorlog, lessen voor de volgende crisis",
In that book he provides a stunning backstage view on the crisis management by the public authorities.
During the crisis to deliver enough medical supplies and testing equipment, it seems that two opposites appeared:
- a cross sectoral approach to deliver speed and capacity with research groups and private sector bundling together, an public sector hiring specialised external know-how (like being able to talk to =Chinese suppliers,...)
- at the same time special interest groups that were defending their turf, and were not up to the speed in managing the crisis
What P. De Backer found quite disturbing was the appearance of a number of pre-existing advisory panels, mostly regionalised, that looked like grey decision making instead of advisory; and specific interest groups were defendoing their turf instead of the public interest.
During the discussion on innovation participant prof Fallon, mentioned following reports of a comparative study on innovation capacities in Government.
The session was finished with a look at changes in France with a study on public transformation in times of crisis where A. Mussche from Vraimentvraiment agency provided us the highlights
Highlights were the strong interactions with the audience, and a profound and shared understand of a momentum between old and entrenched habits, and a new way.