AmCham submitted Letter to Deputy Prime Minister for Digitization and Minister for Regional Development Ivan Bartoš.
Dear Deputy Prime Minister for Digitization, Minister for Regional Development
The members of AmCham appreciate you taking the time to explain your priorities to our community, and to listen to our ideas on how to make Czechia a leading innovative economy. Businesses, and the public, often expect ministers to perform perfection: to achieve everything everyone wants at the cost to no one- and without any effort on our part. We believe the business community should serve more as a partner than a critic. That is why we propose to take the issues raised during our discussion at the Digitization of Czechia and work together to bring them to reality.
Having reviewed the presentations and discussions from the session, we identify five issues to pursue: ICT workforce in the public sector, implementing AI in the public sector, digitizing the land-use process, improving legislation and practice in public procurement, and basing tourism policy on data-defined targets.
The People Problem. With only 4% of its workforce employed in ICT, Czechia has a basic disadvantage to digitized economies such as Estonia and Denmark. The long-term response is to increase the numbers of men and women studying ICT in the country. This will take a decade or more, because the change must run from entering primary school to graduating from university. The immediate solution is to attract more foreign ICT workers into the economy. By loosening or removing quotas for ICT workforce, the government could reduce the job openings and deflate the pressure to increase wages in the sector. Helping the private sector with their ICT workforce shortage will also help the public sector with their own need. We would like to work with your Ministry and the Digital Information Agency to advocate a change in immigration policy and to investigate a program of sabbaticals and internship could increase the number of qualified ICT personnel available to the government.
AI Rules and Tools. Artificial intelligence has and will continue to provide major advances in how humans collect, analyze, organize and communicate information to solve problems and improve efficiency. Czechia has the track record and current capacity to become a leader in AI-related goods and services. We would like to help form a task force of public and private sector individuals, under your leadership, to assess how the government could increase that potential through the development and procurement of innovative government services and the shaping of regulation that encourages such innovation.
Land-use process. The ability to model the environmental, social, and economic impact of land development is a fundamental tool needed by government to manage public and private investments effectively. BIM and IFC software systems improve such modeling capabilities, as well as allow permitting authorities to manage the process to eliminate delays and errors. For this reason, BIM and IFC are becoming the standard In Europe. As this government decides on how to digitize its land use process, we encourage using BIM and IFC as the standard for assessing the bids. We offer to organize a workshop with Finnish officials on the key elements of BIM and IFC systems so your ministry and other institutions can learn more about how the system contributes to planning and permitting.
Public procurement reform. We agree with your assessment that public procurement detracts from effective development of public IT systems. The current law, though imperfect, permits better procurement than current practice allows. Many of the problems with public procurement are blamed on the law (for instance, selection based solely on price) but come from misuse of the tender process. We would like to work with your ministry to highlight these abuses, and to create a set of implementation procedures and standards that could improve the behavior of all participants in the process.
Tourism. International tourism is already an essential part of the Prague economy and (through the spending of Prague citizens) a secondary contributor to regional economies. We believe the national government does not value the impact of tourism (which, like export, transfer wealth created in other countries to Czechia) as much as it should. Lack of sufficient data on international tourism’s impact on the country’s cultural, hospitality, and retail industries contributes to the low priority economic ministers place on the sector. Furthermore, the government lacks the analytical tools necessary to decide how to effectively invest in the development of tourism, and how to coordinate those investments with private sector development. We would like to propose two pilot projects to construct a tourism scorecard for guiding such decisions. The first project would compare four competing markets (Prague, Berlin, Budapest and Vienna) to compare overall revenue per tourist and cultural revenue per tourist. The purpose would be to determine what type of cultural events generate the most revenue per tourist, and therefore should receive government support. The second project would assist the development of international tourism in the regions outside of Prague by assessing what sort of promotions would increase both the traffic and spending of international visitors. We would like to propose these projects work under your auspices and be coordinated with CzechTourism and other departments at the Ministry.
Once again, we appreciate your enthusiasm for improving the country and the way it is governed. We would like to contribute to your efforts, and are looking forward to cooperating.
AmCham Czech Republic