The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge. It threatens our health, livelihood and peace of mind—our very way of life. Both the public and private sectors have important leadership roles in developing a response. Citizens and businesses expect government to provide guidance they can trust, services that meet their needs and financial security. Public sector and private sector employees want leadership that stays the course, provides clear direction on a path forward and a working environment that ensures their safety.

These interests are common in communities around the globe. They represent ways that organisations are already joining together on what must be done. It is critical to look both at the immediate response toward recovery and preparations for future scenarios.

The now: Rising to the times

All eyes are on government right now. Meeting the needs of our citizens during COVID-19 and its aftermath demands an approach grounded in technology, boundary-breaking collaboration and innovative ways of working.

To live up to citizens' and businesses' expectations, public service organisations need to stand up critical solutions that are flexible and robust across three dimensions:

1. Crisis response

Enable the workforce with technical supports and policy adjustments that support critical functions to run on time, serving citizen and business needs with care and urgency.

2. Pandemic operations

Establish sustained and robust collaboration across national, regional, local and community-based agencies to engage citizens and share accurate, consistent information; provide vital services through a secure supply chain; and create stability while flattening the infection curve.

3. Long-term recovery

Soften the lasting impact on revenues, service demand and the larger economy while helping get people back to their daily lives sooner, spurring recovery while planning for the next pandemic.

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The framework for coronavirus public service action

Across these dimensions, public service agencies along with private sector partners need to take action in six critical areas:

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Manage surge response

Triage and prioritise resources, assessing facility and resource capacity and creating clear, consistent communications via all channels, including digital. Apply advanced analytics to command centers to anticipate demand and predict hot spots for assistance while establishing collaboration tools that enable public and private sector organisations to align efforts for citizens and customers.

Activate collaborative governance

Stand up rapid response teams to include a broader stakeholder group and establish consistent governance to collaborate well over an extended period of time. Develop a leadership structure that results in fast, centralised decision making based on data and is applied consistently across all sectors.

Communicate and collaborate

Establish government organisations as the clear and undisputed source of facts. Coordinate with partners across sectors to deliver "one voice" and plan the channels and cadence of messages. Design and adapt messages so they are in sync with public sentiment and use public feedback to guide message development and refine operations.

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Support economic stability

Provide leadership to calm markets and reassure citizens, businesses, government employees and community stakeholders. Intervene with locally-appropriate rescue packages and provide policy flexibility for business continuity and citizen relief while using analytics to predict and address post-pandemic workforce support needs.

Adapt for operational continuity

Modify operations, policies and processes for the new reality. Support employees through remote/surge situations and ensure citizen access to information and services as operations change. Institute guidance to adjust practice expectations that align with current challenges and provide direction and opportunities for disrupted employees.

Strengthen monitoring and reporting

Use comprehensive data and analytics to make insight-based decisions, create predictive models for preemptive responses and report accurate information to the public. Look to social media monitoring to bring citizen perspectives into decision making and counter inaccurate information and intentional disinformation.

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The Next: Returning to a new normal

This pandemic will end. Once it does, delivering services will look very different, and employees will have new skills. Agencies that have the capabilities and structures to continually reassess and recalibrate resource use, revenue allocation, policies and priorities are best positioned to help people and businesses return to the rhythms of daily life.

The good news is that citizens, agencies and businesses are resilient, innovative and strong. Some of the capabilities built out of necessity today—remote work, customer self-service, social media engagement, remote health monitoring—can become the new normal tomorrow. Citizens, governments, businesses and non-profits will emerge from this crisis with new expectations, valuable lessons learned and new capabilities that strengthen all of us.

This will be a turning point for government. A time to build even more meaningful, trust-based relationships with people and ensure they can weather even the most unexpected storm.

DISCLAIMER: This document is intended for general informational purposes only and does not take into account the reader's specific circumstances and may not reflect the most current developments. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this presentation and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals.

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