Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation

Grigoriy Kharitonov
Grigoriy Kharitonov

Pandemic boosts digital transformation of public administration

The forced digitalization has become one of the most pronounced consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, deputy head of the Analytical Center, head of the Project Office for the Digital Economy National Program Grigory Kharitonov said.

As he was commenting on the relevant research of Google and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in an interview with ComNews, he noted the unprecedented growth of digital transformation of Russia’s public administration.

“We can’t say that digitalization has influenced the public sector most, as we are also seeing a steep growth of digital technologies in healthcare, trade, etc. However, the pandemic has given an unprecedented boost to digital transformation of public administration processes in Russia,” Kharitonov said.

In the opinion of the expert, the accelerated processes of digital transformation of Russia’s public sector under the influence of the coronavirus pandemic raised the task of the soonest improvement of public activity in the field of openness, collection, use and security of date in the first turn. Secondly, a huge number of public services provided to the population moved online, and the number of services available from home via the Public Services portal grew manifold. Thirdly, new models of control over digital transformation of regions have been developed and implemented. For instance, in December 2020, all Russian constituent territories opened Region Governance Centers (RGCs) tasked with guiding the development of regions by means of advanced digital technologies.

Kharitonov noted the existence of barriers to further digitalization of all economic sectors, such as the lack of relevant regulations and the insufficient level of digital awareness of the population and the implementation of digital technologies. “These issues are being addressed within the framework of the national program entitled ‘Digital Economy of the Russian Federation’,” he said.

Google and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration polled 1,000 people. According to the poll, digital technologies facilitate analysis of corporate and process efficiency (51%), allow effective control over the work of employees (44%), expedite the decision making process and open up new opportunities for control over the implementation of such decisions (41%). Over the pandemic period, 19% of Russians attended online courses and 10% received additional education or learned a new profession.

On one hand, respondents feel cautious about digitalization prospects despite the overall technological optimism, the pollsters said. The population expects job reductions in traditional economic sectors as a result of digital transformation. The fact that business seeks to optimize work processes fuels such fears. On the other hand, the risk of losing oneself on the labor market encourages Russian citizens to learn new professions and to acquire additional skills. Nearly half of the respondents (45%) said they had encountered difficulties in acquiring digital competences.