There is nothing better, and indeed more sad, than starting my New Year’s blogging with yet another not too exciting example from my own country, but so be it.
Less than one month after our Minister of Justice and his colleague responsible for Public Service and Innovation proudly announced the “Vivifacile Giustizia” project (it sounds like “LiveEasy Justice” – see link in Italian here), allowing attorneys and – at a future stage – the public at large to receive electronically on their mobile devices notices about judge decisions relevant to their cases. Unfortunately a few days ago, the Ministry of Justice was at the verge of being unable to guarantee the operations of its own data centers due to significant cuts in the maintenance budget (see article in Italian here).
While this may be the consequence of a peculiar budgetary situation in a country that needs to pull the brakes on public spending to prevent pernicious consequences on the viability of its own debt, it is also exemplary of the intensifying conflict between cost reduction and innovation in government. Although receiving an SMS about a case may look like a no-brainer in several countries, it is quite an accomplishment in a country where justice is plagued by inefficiencies, very long trials and a comparatively poor level of automation.
Unfortunately budget constraints challenge even the ability of keeping the lights on, let alone deploying further innovation: a classical example of how IT is still perceived as a cost factor and not as a key enabler to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
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