Public Management Day, Universidad del Pacífico, Peru


Keynote Speech by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Transcript of video message
Paris, France, 26 November 2020

Distinguished public officials, ambassadors and representatives of international organisations:

It is a pleasure to be involved in this Public Management Day organised by Universidad del Pacífico, an institution that stands out in terms of training leaders who contribute to the growth and development of Peru.

I have been invited to share the OECD's views on best practice in public management in the context of the current pandemic, and I am glad to do so.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact

We are going through one of the worst health, economic and social crises in history. We predict that global GDP will contract by 4.5% in 2020, before recovering to 5% in 2021. Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) will be one of the most affected regions, with GDP shrinking by more than 9% in 2020.

On the health front, the virus is progressing rapidly. LAC, with only 8% of the world's population, has recorded 28% of all COVID-19 cases and 34% of deaths from the virus. 

On the social front, the crisis has exacerbated underlying problems such as unequal access to health and education services and lack of economic security, affecting mainly the most vulnerable. This is worrying, as informality in the region is close to 60%, and nearly 40% of workers are not covered by any form of social protection.

COVID-19 has tested the strength of public institutions, highlighting the importance of delivering quality services in health and education, and the provision of clean water, among others.

Faced with these complicated conditions, LAC governments have to face three challenges: overcome the virus using all available resources; restart economic activity and protect those most affected; and continue to implement the necessary structural reforms.

New public management for a resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery

LAC needs to promote a resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery, with governments at the centre of these efforts. Peru, in particular, has been through a political and governance crisis in recent weeks. The functioning of our institutions and good governance is essential for focusing the efforts of political, economic and social actors on a better future, which places citizens at the centre.

It is particularly worrying to know that satisfaction with public services in LAC has declined over the last decade, as our report Government at a Glance Latin America and the Caribbean 2020 points out. Even before the pandemic, only 50% of the population was satisfied with the health system.

LAC is behind OECD countries in terms of consultative systems that include and integrate all those involved in the development of the necessary regulations. Stakeholders must be involved throughout the process, with their input and support helping to identify the extent of the problems, and possible solutions.

Open, digital and innovative governments

Society demands open, digital and innovative governments. The OECD has worked with several governments in the region, identifying good practices in these areas.

Our publication with data on the virus at the local level demonstrates that open and digital government policies help in making quick decisions and taking actions to respond to the needs of citizens. In Buenos Aires, for example, local government provides timely and accessible information to monitor the response to the epidemic, contributing to confidence in government management.

In the digital realm, our 2020 Latin American Economic Outlook report focuses on digital transformation for better reconstruction in the region. Similarly, the Digital Government in Peru study recognises that the creation of "digital government leaders" offers an opportunity for coordinating efforts for designing public policies, thus allowing strategic implementation, better coordination of the digital agenda, and facilitating the focus on citizens.

In terms of innovation, we have seen how the virtual assistant of the National Authority for Government Innovation of Panama allows for better decision-making in public health in the current situation. With a few questions, its algorithms help determine the patient's symptoms, propose follow-up actions, send an ambulance, or provide specialised personal care from a distance.

Digital talent is essential in enabling the digital transformation of governments. The results of the "OECD Digital Government Index” show that while 79% of OECD countries have developed strategies to build the digital capabilities of the public sector, only 58% have incorporated digital skills as a central component of their public sector employment policies. The ability of governments to respond and adapt to the needs of more digital societies requires a public employment agenda that promotes the systemic development of digital skills and competencies. 

Distinguished guests,

Public management is currently more important than ever. How effectively we deal with the COVID-19 crisis will depend largely on the quality of our governments, our policies and our public services. LAC must continue to improve the quality and capacity of its States.

I would like to take this opportunity to renew the OECD's support to the Government of Peru in tackling the pandemic and initiating a successful recovery by designing and implementing better policies for better lives.

Thank you.


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