Forum PA 2020: The Digital Resilience Of The Public Administration in Italy


Forum PA 2020 took place last month entirely online, from 6 to 11 July, hosting more than 100 streaming events and more than 300 speakers, who discussed current issues such as digital innovation and transformation for resilience in work and industrial processes.

Forum PA 2020 speakers analysed how the Covid-19 pandemic has confronted Italy with an unprecedented challenge, in which innovation has proved to be the foundation for the future of the public sector, which without teleworking would not have been able to cope with such a long period of health emergency. Innovation is also the key factor for the restart of the public sector in Italy, from health care to work, from industry to school and social cohesion.

Forum PA 2020 was therefore entitled “Digital Resilience” and was the largest digital event dedicated to the themes of innovation and digital transformation in Italy, as a response to the crisis, with “scenario” events, round tables, international level speeches, ICT companies’ points of view, central government perspectives and testimonies from local administrations that were at the forefront of the emergency. training; seminars on projects, practical experiences, technological solutions for resilience, and their concrete application.

In this edition of Forum PA 2020, many international guests were present, among them: the Secretary-General of the OECD Angel Gurria and other important representatives of the OECD such as Stefano Scarpetta, Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs and Andrew Wyckoff, Director for Science, Technology, and Innovation; two important representatives of the operational structures of the European Commission such as Fabrizia Benini, Head of Unit Digital Economy and Skills of DG CONNECT and Ken Ducatel, Director IT Security of DG DIGIT; Emanuele Baldacci, Director of Digital Services DIGIT at the European Commission; Barteld Braaksma, Innovation Manager CBS – National Statistical Institute of the Netherlands, and Gualtiero Walter Ricciardi, Executive Board Member World Health Organization. The experience of Spain was described by Fernando De Pablo Martin, Secretary-General of Digital Administration at the Ministry of Economy and Digital Transformation.

The participants in Forum PA 2020 discussed the lessons that this emergency has left us and how to use them to redefine policies and paths that look at the only possible development: a development that brings together the blue of technology and the green of sustainability, to quote the philosopher Luciano Floridi, who held his keynote on the opening day of the Forum PA 2020.

In addition to the traditional survey on Forum PA‘s public work, three other researches were presented and commented during the Forum PA 2020: on 7 July, the Survey on the digital maturity of municipalities developed by FPA, the service and consulting company of the Digital360 Group, exclusively for Dedagroup Public Services; on 8 July, the cost-benefit analysis carried out by IDC for Aruba Enterprise to assess the impacts of using Certified E-mail in Italy; finally, on 9 July, the survey “PA and citizen: as tools to improve the digital experience of users”, carried out by FPA exclusively for Adobe.

Digital innovation improves the efficiency of PA services, with considerable time savings and faster communication, thanks to increased processing capacity, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. However, in Italy, bureaucratic delays have compromised the success of the Italian PA’s digital transformation initiatives, despite the goodwill and commitment of public administrations. This has resulted in inefficiencies on the part of public authorities and a misalignment between the time needed to successfully implement a transformation project and the time needed for existing programmes, disregarding the expectations of citizens, who look with distrust at the PA digital transformation process.

In Italy, public opinion is generally sceptical about the digitalisation of PA. Citizens do not consider the public administration able to keep up with the changing times, but despite the structural difficulties that the Italian public administration is experiencing in innovating under the banner of new technologies, the internet represents the “great equalizer” and the vehicle of digital transformation, which is an involved process based on principles of access, reliability, transparency and trust, factors that generate social and environmental sustainability.

The COVID-19 emergency has, paradoxically, given a strong acceleration to the digital transformation of the PA in Italy, which has gradually regained the trust of citizens, through improved transparency, efficiency, and sustainability, which are the basis for a future “digital” rebirth of the country.


Video: Andrew Wyckoff’s speech, courtesy of Forum PA.

Leila Tavi

Leila Tavi is a journalist specialized in Russian Politics and Culture and PhD c. in Russian History at the University of Vienna under the supervision of Prof. Andreas Kappeler. She studied Political Science in Vienna and Rome, graduating in History of Eastern Europe at Roma Tre University, with Prof. Francesco Guida and a thesis on travel reports about Saint Petersburg by West Europeans at the beginning of the XIX Century. Previously she obtained a degree in Foreign Languages, with a specialization in German Philology at the University of Rome «La Sapienza». Her new book "East of the Danube" is coming soon.

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