Technology transfer is an untapped resource for public service administrations. Despite the huge investments made by technological firms in improving efficiency and customer experience, the only meeting point between these firms and governments is through regulation.
It’s about time policy makers recalibrate this relationship. Technological absorption in government has been slowed because of its bureaucratic nature, corruption and the lack of political goodwill. County governments, however, face a real daunting task as they put systems in place amid dwindling revenue streams.
Technology transfer is defined as “the process of transferring technology from its origination to a wider distribution among more people and places.”
It has been employed in the higher education, with developed countries such as the UK and US investing hugely in this resource. In public service, however, this hasn’t been given the attention that it deserves.
Technology transfer offers county administrations the opportunity to harness technologies used by private contractors in areas such as agriculture, revenue collection, artificial intelligence and infrastructure development. Counties can adopt the technologies utilised in the above fields to deliver on large projects.
Technology transfer allows county governments to retain knowledge and the expertise which in the long term, is a more viable return on investment as opposed to allocating huge contracts to private entities without any retention of knowledge and expertise of its staff.
County administrations should be encouraged to invest more in developing local technologies by partnering with the local technical training institutions which offer the necessary technical manpower and expertise.
Achieving this will require a pragmatic approach to professional staff training and development of policies that will guide the adoption and implementation of technology transfer and collaboration.
The localisation of technology transfer is important as there cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution. This requires collaboration with external partners to develop transfer protocols that are relevant to the needs, challenges and capacity of the county governments.
County governments and the public sector in general have the ability to scale demand in areas such as infrastructure development, education, health.
However, the large-scale investment in technologies to spur these areas will emanate from the private sector players. This highlights the symbiotic relationship between these two players.
Counties should not only contract a private entity for their professional service, but should go further by contracting the firm to transfer their technical skills to staff and locals as one way of developing capacity and skills for the future. I
t is important for county governments to retain expertise as well as data if they are to avoid falling prey to whims of private business through regulatory capture. —The writer comments on county governance