Point of View: Digital Government

Jaimie Boyd, Chief Digital Officer for the BC Government
"Responding to COVID-19 has been a challenge for the ages! It sped up a lot of our work,” says Boyd. “Many of our digital teams had no choice other than to collaborate more effectively and deliver new services in days instead of months.”

Jaimie Boyd is the chief digital officer for the Government of British Columbia. Working within B.C.’s Ministry of Citizens’ Services, her role is to support partners across the provincial government to deliver digital services to the five million people of B.C.

Boyd is a Pearson College graduate who grew up in Victoria. She worked for the Government of Canada in Ottawa, specifically on open government — using tools like data and dialogue to support transparency, accountability, innovation and participation, all of which she explains in detail in her 2020 TEDx talk. As one of the first provinces to create this job, B.C. was very well positioned to roll out digital responses to COVID-19, hot on the heels of Boyd’s return.

How would you describe the value of your role?

I’m responsible for accelerating digital change in government. Digital government is about using new tools from the internet age to provide great services. Sometimes that means building individual digital services. At other times, it means focusing on policies, tools and culture to make technology sustainable and user-centric. Roles like mine are exciting because they help modernize government.

What impact did the pandemic have on what you do?

It was exhilarating to see communications experts pivot and provide public health information in ways that were easy for people, including through chatbots. I loved seeing best practices in open source software play out as teams helped people isolate as they returned home to B.C., and then forked that same code to help silviculture workers safely return to work. We scaled enterprise services to support remote workers. Our finance teams pivoted to fast track project approvals.

How does B.C.’s digital landscape look from your point of view?

We have really wonderful pockets of innovation across government. Our BC Services Cards are world-class pieces of technology. We’re innovating around how we use and manage data. We have teams using robotic process automation to speed up how they process data, so that they can focus on tougher tasks that only humans can do. The pandemic forced governments around the world to dedicate resources to digital priorities; now our challenge is to mainstream one-off digital services into the default way to serve people. I think that reinforcing a culture of service is the key to unlocking this potential.

How are you bringing the private and public tech sector together?

I’ve spent most of my career working across sectors. For me, we get better outcomes for everybody when we collaborate — for communities, businesses, taxpayers. We have a vibrant tech sector in B.C. and lots of opportunities to use government procurement to support great jobs here at home. Open innovation is good for our economy, and it’s great for the services that government delivers every day.