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NZ support for government organisations and citizens during COVID-19

Image credit: https://getready.govt.nz/

New Zealand has set up a working group to provide support to government organisations to ensure that they are able to maintain critical digital services to the citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) leads the working group and is connected to the Government’s Operation Command Centre.

Working alongside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the State Services Commission (SSC) the group aims to identify and address critical services, issues and supply chain issues that need immediate attention.

The GCDO working group is supporting government organisations by addressing critical challenges and needs. These include:

  • fielding demand for equipment and services
  • helping the vendor community to manage and prioritise ICT supply chains
  • providing guidance to public servants about working from home
  • developing a list of certified collaboration tools

The group has created a priorities of support matrix to bolster sectors and areas that are critical to smooth national functioning.

The group is concentrating on agencies that provide essential functions and services that support New Zealand through the Alert Level 4 response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The list includes:

  1. Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)
  2. Department of Corrections
  3. Inland Revenue (IR)
  4. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
  5. Ministry of Education (MoE)
  6. Ministry of Health (MoH)
  7. Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  8. Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
  9. Ministry of Social Development (MSD)

While the group recognises that all government organisations are facing challenges, the need of the hour is to concentrate immediately on those agencies that are providing critical services.

After addressing he most pressing needs of focus sectors, the group can support other agencies and departments.

New Zealand has numerous digital initiatives to help citizens during the pandemic.

Recently, Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced the launch of the New Zealand Government COVID-19 information service on WhatsApp –  Govt.nz.

Linked to the government’s other response mechanisms within its broader lockdown response. The app aims to make information more accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19.

The free automated service is designed to provide official, trustworthy and up-to-date information and advice about COVID-19.

The service covers:

  • latest updates and cases
  • what you need to do
  • COVID-19 symptoms
  • financial support
  • travel advice
  • health, law and order, and business information
  • answers to the most commonly asked questions directly from the government.

Ann-Marie Cavanagh, Deputy Chief Executive Digital Public Service branch, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) said, “The WhatsApp service provides New Zealanders with another important source of trusted information. As with the creation of the COVID-19.govt.nz website and the establishment of a new non-clinical 0800 Call Centre, in conjunction with Oranga Tamariki, these all help to provide official information as quickly as possible to the public — while also providing more channels for engagement with government.”

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