Are federal IT systems supporting the targeted service outcomes? Deloitte examines the future role of the government

In an interview with IT World Canada, consulting giant Deloitte highlighted the importance of an ecosystem-based approach to tackle issues around digital equity in Canada and service delivery challenges in the public sector.

“Our strong view is that the people of Canada benefit when there’s effective collaboration between public and private organizations, including on critical government programs and services,” said Jaimie Boyd, Canada’s national digital government leader, Deloitte. “When we collaborate effectively, it allows us to mobilize the experience, the expertise, the contextual knowledge, leading practices globally.”

The government’s IT systems recently came under scrutiny at the House of Commons for the barrage of modernization challenges it currently faces. At the same time, members of parliament questioned the big contracts given to third party contractors.

“I do definitely recognize we are the largest professional services firm in Canada,” said Boyd, when asked about the concerns of the MPs. “And with that comes a responsibility that we are proud to carry. We’re proud to serve the people of Canada and perform our work in strict accordance with professional standards. And we’re absolutely committed to upholding the utmost standards of trust.”

She also acknowledged that there are “really high expectations” around digital service delivery and “significant barriers”, adding, “I would just really advocate for anything that we can do as a community to build these ecosystem-based approaches, build that collaboration and tackle some of these thorny issues together.”

A top priority in the government right now, she noted, is whether the investments are in alignment with service imperatives, and whether they are making lives better for Canadians.

“A relentless focus on human impact and elevating the human experience is the thing I am the most concerned about,” she added. 

The company, in fact, today released the first installment of Deloitte Canada’s Future Role of Government article series that aims to rethink government response in tackling issues around digital equity in Canada. The article provides the following recommendations:

  1. Align federal, provincial and territorial governments’ approaches to digital skills development and measurement
  2. Enforce cross-jurisdictional regulation and enforcement of competition in Canada to foster a stronger tech sector and provide more digital choice for citizens. Currently, competition policy is only within federal jurisdiction, which limits Canada’s ability to regulate anti-competitive behaviour
  3. Continue to expand connectivity to close the gap in underserved populations
  4. Ensure equitable access to technology such as smartphones and computers — they’re needed today for work, education, or essential online activities. The Minister of Finance, for instance, could introduce a targeted tax credit for internet-enabled devices for underserved groups, similar to the pandemic-era remote-work tax deduction for devices needed for work or education.
  5. Protect Canadians from online harms; adopt an approach of ongoing public consultation to position Canada as a global leader in privacy protections; update online safety laws to balance protection from harm with respecting freedom of expression; invest further in research initiatives for cybersecurity and in digital infrastructure to protect citizens; implement an accessible and user-friendly reporting mechanism; legislative obligations should also be flexible so that they are not quickly outdated.
  6. Shift the approach to digital policymaking to one that is agile, experimental, and closely aligned with the development and risks of new technologies. Examples are policy labs, regulatory sandboxes, and greater collaboration between regulators and innovators, the EU Policy Lab, the U.K. government’s Policy Lab, and Denmark’s MindLab.
  7. Carry out a coordinated effort by federal and provincial governments to establish a digital credential ecosystem and build trust through public consultations.

Boyd also warned against rushing to get new technologies out, and being transparent about that process, especially when taxpayers resources are involved.

“People have traditionally talked about technology cultures, and they say, ‘Oh, you have to, you know, move fast and break things.’ And I would say quite the opposite in a public sector context. You need to move slowly and thoughtfully to build things. You need to build empowering experiences that do right by Canadians.”

In the following weeks, Deloitte Canada will be unveiling the remaining installments of the Future Role of the Government series that will span topics like reskilling, natural resources security, international relations, supply chain, health and social equity, indigenous sovereignty and more.

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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