The push for a better digital government requires a few things: a vision for improving the lives of Canadians through the implementation of technology; a pledge for security and privacy, and an actual employee base that understands what it means to be a digital native.
Canada is working on that latter step with the launch of a Digital Academy, a series of initiatives meant to ensure the country’s public service sector is prepared for the quickly-evolving digital age. The academy will be hosted at the Canada School of Public Service and will feature international best practices as well as a slew of made-in-Canada approaches. Canadian Digital Services and the Office of the Chief Information Officer of Canada will also partner to create this new program.
“In the age of smartphones, social media and apps that do everything, Canadians expect their government to serve them as seamlessly and as well as they’ve come to expect from the best digital service providers,” said Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government. “Government exists to improve the lives of people, and a digitally enabled public service gives us an unprecedented opportunity to improve government services.”
The new academy will bring in knowledgeable contributors from various levels of government, the private sector and several non-profits, all combining to improve the overall understanding of what a digital government is and what it can do for Canadian citizens. Ultimately the academy will work towards achieving newly-set digital standards that touch on everything from designing ethical services and fostering collaboration to using open solutions and designing with users in mind.
“We can actually do something that is much better than is done anywhere else, and that is build top-flight talent and enable our public servants to develop their skills as the very best at delivering government digital services to citizens anywhere in the world,” said Brison.
In the short term, the academy will work to further the digital acumen of all public servants. Several reports have pointed out that digital literacy is the key to moving Canada forward as a nation, and try as they might, not every employee in the federal government is completely up to date with the latest tech and best practices. A pilot cohort will be held in January 2019 and the core focus will be on competencies such as data analysis, design, development and automation, disruptive technology and artificial intelligence, and machine learning.