For all the difficulties it has brought, the pandemic has produced some “bright spots” for the government, the Partnership for Public Service has said, yielding “a government that is in many ways stronger, smarter and nimble.”
“Government adapted and kept delivering, often in new and better ways, whether it was managing loan applications for small businesses, processing veterans’ benefits or distributing millions of vaccine doses to the public. People throughout the country are the beneficiaries of a trial by fire, a test that would have been impossible for government to conceive and plan under normal circumstances,” says a new report. https://ourpublicservice.org/research/
Both inward- and outward-focused changes were made successfully, it said. Many internal improvements related to accommodating a rapid increase in teleworking with for example an increase at the IRS in employees deemed eligible to telework from 44 to 80 percent. It also cited investments in laptops, bandwidth and other IT that that improved agencies’ ability to communicate internally.
Other internal changes involved revised operating practices that for example facilitated surges in hiring at agencies including the VA and the SBA and that streamlined the credentialling process at DHS for newly hired employees, putting them on the job more quickly, it said.
External improvements included expansions of telehealth services, beefed-up customer service, reductions in paperwork, and a successful shift of many services to online delivery.
The Partnership also produced a publication of case studies involving Energy, VA, Transportation, CDC, NIH and SBA, saying they show a mix of adapting in real-time and seizing on the pandemic to carry out changes that had previously been planned but not fully carried out.