Please briefly describe the initiative, what issue or challenge it aims to address and specify its objectives (300 words maximum)
- Game Changing K-Innovation and K-Collaboration to Respond the COVID-19-
<Achieving goals related to COVID-19 through innovation, cooperation, and digital transformation>
To prioritize Korean citizens’ health and safety amid COVID-19, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) achieved the following goals while adhering to three key principles (innovation, cooperation, digital transformation) and three key strategies (Test, Trace, Treat).
- Prevent escalation of COVID-19
- Prevent collapse of healthcare system
- Minimize economic shock without wide-scale lockdowns
- Accommodate needs of vulnerable citizens who experienced the most damages
- Provide support for health workers and medical personnel
- Convert to contactless measures wherever possible through cutting-edge digital technologies
- Innovate public service provision system
<Nationwide cooperation through Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters (CDSCH)>
The MOIS, through the CDSCH, has worked with the central government, provincial governments, SMEs, small business owners, stakeholder groups, experts, and the general public on nationwide response since COVID-19 began. During the prolonged pandemic, the MOIS has secured citizens’ safety by preventing infection tracking interruptions, healthcare system collapse, and public service suspension.
<Full-scale response through MOIS organizations>
The Disaster and Safety Management Department (DSMD) operated the CDSCH and temporary screening centers and assisted vaccine administration. The Digital Government Bureau released the AI-based “Public Secretary” virtual assistant service to convert public services to individually-tailored, contactless digital formats. The Local Fiscal and Economic Policy Office designed policies to revitalize local economies (e.g. Emergency Coronavirus Relief Funds (ECRF) payments and local job-creation project).
<Implement gradual return to normal life based on broad feedback>
Currently, with its high vaccination rate of 79.9% (as of Nov. 30, 2021), Korea is transitioning to the “post COVID-19” phase. The MOIS launched the Committee for Recovery of Normal Life from COVID-19 to collect broad-ranging feedback from society, based on which the committee is preparing a plan for Korea’s gradual transition to ordinary daily routines.
Please explain how the initiative is linked to the selected category (100 words maximum)
The MOIS’ COVID-19 response efforts, based on innovation, cooperation, and digital conversion, are closely related to “institutional resilience and innovative responses.”
<Innovative response to COVID-19>
Drive-through screening and screening centers were introduced, with residential treatment centers operated for patients with mild symptoms.
The MOIS provided a reservation service for leftover vaccines through Public Secretary(GoodPy), collaborating with private companies such as KakaoTalk and Naver to increase convenience.
<Universal provision of public services incorporating digital technologies>
The MOIS supported work-from-home regulations and improvements to video conferencing systems. It worked with the private sector for the contactless yet efficient provision of public services.
a. Please specify which SDGs and target(s) the initiative supports and describe concretely how the initiative has contributed to their implementation (200 words maximum)
The objectives of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts—“no one is left behind,” “concentrated support for those who need it most,” and “building a better society for the post-COVID-19 world”—are closely linked to the 2030 Agenda.
Goal 1: No poverty
- Made two ECRF payments. Provided livelihood support for socially-underprivileged individuals and “consumer coupons” for low-income families.
Goal 3: Good health and well-being
- Regularly sanitized public facilities and public transport vehicles. Provided free counseling to promote mental health and psychological stability.
Goal 5: Gender equality
- Guaranteed right to work from home for parents caring for their children. Provided childcare coupons (one-time subsidy for foodstuffs) and access to babysitters to minimize indefinite suspension of women’s income-earning activities.
Goal 9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
- Strived to achieve balanced regional development through Korean New Deal, which pursues the conversion to a digital and eco-friendly society.
Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
- Efforts made to raise awareness of and sensitivity to those hit hardest by COVID-19, including individuals with disabilities, multicultural families, and small business owners.
Goal 16: Peace, justice, and strong institutions
- Created private sector-led problem-solving platform to significantly expand participation of stakeholders, experts, and ordinary citizens.
b. Please describe what makes the initiative sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms (100 words maximum)
<Fortified accommodating policy stance and provided support to vulnerable groups>
Aimed to improve accommodativeness of central government policy and help Korean society recover from COVID-19 through increased support for socially-vulnerable individuals. Provided emergency livelihood support and expanded job stability payments to workers with special employment types and small businesses.
<Implementation of “Korean Green New Deal” through eco-friendly and sustainable energy>
Established carbon-neutral resource utilization complexes in Gangwon-do and Chungcheongbuk-do. Established carbon-neutral facilities and systems that utilize discarded urban/rural resources in Cheonan, Asan, and Yesan-gun. Implemented trial projects in multiple regions (e.g. Smart Green City, preservation of ecological neighborhoods).
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant shortfall in governance, public administration or public service within the context of a given country or region. (200 words maximum)
<Alleviation of inter-regional inequality and focused assistance for vulnerable/hard-hit areas>
To address the disparate economic impacts on local economies, the MOIS conveyed announcements on COVID-19 measures to ensure easy access to information nationwide. For struggling local governments, a special grant tax was provided to assist with various COVID-19-related issues.
<Support for increasing accessibility of underdeveloped regions>
Temporary screening centers were operated in island regions with poor access to community health centers and hospitals. In these regions, the special grant tax was permitted to be used to transport seniors aged 75 or older to be vaccinated.
<Expanded issuance of local gift certificates to revitalize local economies>
More regional gift certificates were issued to stabilize consumption, increasing income for small business owners.
<Digitization of traditional markets and creation of local jobs>
Aid was given to digitize traditional outdoor markets and local businesses, converting them into “digital markets.” To provide livelihood support to socially-vulnerable groups, the MOIS also created 100,000 public jobs and 8,620 “local COVID-19 prevention jobs.”
<Revitalized communication through establishment of resident-led problem-solving platform>
Above all, the MOIS created citizen-led problem-solving platforms encompassing all steps involved in addressing local issues to enhance the sustainability of local policies in the public realm.
b. Please describe how your initiative addresses gender inequality in the country context. (100 words maximum)
<Reduced work burden in areas with many female workers and systemized flexible working hours>
In Korea, 90% of nurses, 72% of healthcare workers, and 72% of service workers are women, and all experienced excessive increases in workload, work-related stress, and childrearing responsibilities.
The MOIS enabled female workers to apply online for flexible working hours and provided subsidies for indirect labor costs. Emergency childcare support was provided, as were emergency childcare vouchers for cases of restricted access to daycare centers. Policies for those with urgent childcare needs were applied to the central and local governments, public institutions, and private companies.
c. Please describe who the target group(s) were, and explain how the initiative improved outcomes for these target groups. (200 words maximum)
<Provided fair quarantine services to Koreans and foreign residents>
The MOIS’ response efforts focused on three groups: Korean citizens, foreigners living in Korea, and overseas entrants. Efforts and resources were focused on vulnerable individuals hardest hit by COVID-19.
<Reduced gray areas by supporting vulnerable and socially-alienated groups>
Support was improved for socially-vulnerable individuals and regions with limited access to services. Financially-strapped local governments were given a special grant tax, and temporary screening centers were operated in remote areas, where the special grant tax was permitted to be used on transportation for taking seniors to be vaccinated.
Free COVID-19 screenings were provided to foreigners and Korean citizens equally, as were hospitalization and treatment fees for COVID-19 patients. Also, ECRF was paid to certain foreigner workers to alleviate income disparity.
< Provided more support to local economies in poor financial condition>
The MOIS worked to support local economies. For hard-hit local economies, it prepared the “Emergency Support Plan for Local Economies in Response to COVID-19,” increasing the budget for local governments by USD 90.9 million. The sum value of issued regional gift certificates was increased to USD 2.5 billion, and local governments were notified of various tax benefits they qualified for.
a. Please describe how the initiative was implemented including key developments and steps, monitoring and evaluation activities, and the chronology. (300 words)
< CDSCH operation >
The CDSCH, formed early in the pandemic as a ministry-wide response system through which central ministries (MOIS, Ministry of Health and Welfare, etc.) and all 17 metropolitan governments can freely share information and devise strategies, is still in operation.
<Locally-specific addressing of on-site issues>
Quarantine standards and vaccination issues were ironed out through discussions with related institutions and 17 metropolitan governments. Locally-specific situations and conflicts/difficulties were reviewed weekly by the CDSCH, with feedback provided quickly to enable revisions of preventative guidelines. The unprecedented and complicated nature of COVID-19 resulted in a CDSCH-centric system in which feedback was given after: information sharing, creating a strategy to resolve the situation, planning, implementation, review, and assessment.
<Nationwide application of creative solutions: drive-through screening, residential treatment centers >
The CDSCH served as the control center for ministry-wide quarantine policies. In addition to facilitating on-site implementation (for local governments, etc.), it carried out various other functions (supporting epidemiological surveys, managing self-isolators, securing buildings for use as residential/temporary treatment centers, supporting at-home treatment and vaccinations). It promoted and quickly expanded innovative local practices (drive-through screening, residential treatment centers, etc.) nationwide and provided regionally-specific financial incentives for such practices.
<Nationwide participatory implementation system>
The Committee for Recovery of Normal Life from COVID-19 includes the presidents of the municipal/provincial leaders’ association and municipal/district/county leaders’ association as members. It collects feedback from stakeholders, experts, vulnerable groups, and the general public with the goal of gradually returning to normal life with a focus on the central government’s cooperation with local governments and communication with individual work sites. Today, the committee works with local/individual players on diverse issues and engages with local governments to provide financial support for them and small business owners and revitalize local economies overall.
b. Please clearly explain the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. (100 words)
<Alleviated income gap caused by COVID-19>
ECRF and emergency funding for small business owners reduced the gap between the highest and lowest income brackets (each accounting for 20% of income-earners). In the third quarter of 2021, average monthly household income was USD 3,900—an 8% increase.
<Integrated segmented ministries>
The CDSCH allowed flexible response to disasters, which are growing increasingly large and complex, and timely policies through a year-round supervisory system.
Efforts were made to minimize damages by founding an infectious diseases department, supplementing healthcare personnel, providing ECRF, and holding regular meetings with local officers.
a. Please explain in what ways the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region. (100 words maximum)
<Unfamiliarity of drive-through screening>
The drive-through method, which is not very widespread in Korea, was applied to minimize contact. This also enabled much more screening.
<Release of AI-based notification service “GoodPy”>
Notifications were provided to citizens in advance (individually-tailored vaccination data, ECRF, etc.) via GoodPy (Public Secretary). As of November 2021, approximately 274 million notifications have been issued on vaccinations, with 14.2 million issued on ECRF.
<Contact tracing through strengthened protection of personal data>
Concerns about personal information leaks were quickly and successfully addressed through QR codes, personal safety phone numbers, and Safe Calls (free of charge).
b. Please describe, if relevant, how the initiative drew inspiration from successful initiatives in other regions, countries and localities. (100 words maximum)
<Referenced examples from private sector and other countries>
GoodPy (Public Secretary) was inspired by the AI-based event and scheduling notifications and Internet search function of Google Assistant as well as Singapore’s Ask Jamie, a chatbot service that provides answers to frequently-asked questions on a 24-hour, year-round basis.
Nevertheless, GoodPy is unique in that it is a privately-created app that provides government services. Most notably, it offers a higher quality of services, such as the provision of different kinds of information based on the smartphone user’s age or gender.
c. If emerging and frontier technologies were used, please state how those were integrated into the initiative and/or how the initiative embraced digital government. (100 words maximum)
<Cooperation through disclosing of public data and private development of app>
The central government disclosed public data on mask inventory through public data portals. The private sector developed mask apps, with distribution spearheaded by public-private cooperation. “COVID-19 Map” was created using data on confirmed COVID-19 cases.
<AI-based notification service “GoodPy”>
GoodPy (Public Secretary) was established to complement the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA)’s COVID-19 vaccination system. Citizens were told, via GoodPy, how to apply for and receive ECRF payments. Notifications were provided throughout the vaccination process (reservation date/time, guidelines on vaccination, and follow-up health check).
a. Has the initiative been transferred and/or adapted to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions) to your organization’s knowledge? If yes, please explain where and how. (200 words maximum)
<Standard operational procedure for COVID-19 drive-through screening>
After it was first used in February 2020, drive-through diagnostic screening was quickly expanded nationwide. In March 2020, the US officially announced its intention to adopt this method, with the American outcome quickly copied by, among others, Germany and Japan. The standard operational procedure for screening centers drawn up by Korea has since been named as a New Work Item Proposal (NP) by the ISO and is currently being adapted for international standardization.
<Sharing of experiences with self-isolator safety protection app with Central and South America>
(Self-isolator safety management app) In 2020, the MOIS worked with the North American Development Bank to localize Korea’s self-isolator safety management app for Central/South America, leading to the app’s delivery to Peru in November 2020.
- WHO Secretary General Tedros Adhanum Ghebreyesus said in a media briefing that Korea “developed an innovative testing strategy…did exhaustive contact tracing and testing in selected areas” and “isolated suspected cases in designated facilities,” stressing that the WHO is “working in solidarity with other countries with community transmission to apply the lessons learned in Korea and elsewhere, and adapt them to the local context.” (March 19, 2020)
b. If not yet transferred/adapted to other contexts, please describe the potential for transferability. (200 words maximum)
a. What specific resources (i.e. financial, human or others) were used to implement the initiative? (100 words maximum)
The MOIS oversaw the efforts of 243 local governments and mobilized resources (projects, budget, etc.) for full-fledged COVID-19 response. The following are three of the biggest examples.
- DSMD: engaged in front-line response and maintenance of situation management system through operation of CDSCH, temporary screening centers, and residential treatment centers
- Digital Government Bureau: implemented contactless digital transformation (e.g. GoodPy) with cutting-edge technologies (AI, big data, 5G, etc.)
- Local Fiscal and Economic Policy Office: reduced gap between highest and lowest income brackets by 5.3-fold through ECRF payments, local New Deal projects, and special grant tax
b. Please explain what makes the initiative sustainable over time, in financial and institutional terms. (100 words maximum)
<Flexible work environment>
The working conditions of health and welfare sector workers were improved through systemic means by offering work-from-home arrangements and staggered work hours. Additional quarantine/health personnel were secured to alleviate the problem of excessive work load per individual in local social welfare/healthcare sectors.
<Service provision through the creation of contactless, individually-tailored platforms using digital technologies>
Use of technologies such as AI, big data, 5G, IoT, cloud, and blockchain will continue not only for COVID-19 response but also in conjunction with the innovation of public administration and services.
a. Was the initiative formally evaluated either internally or externally?
b. Please describe how it was evaluated and by whom? (100 words maximum)
The evaluator was Director Jae-ho Eun (and his research team) of K-public Management and Leadership Research. Eun’s research interests are government innovation, public governance, and participatory decision-making. An assessment was done of quantitative and qualitative outcomes, and analyses were conducted of the Korean government’s many policies and outcomes to support effective COVID-19 response.
c. Please describe the indicators and tools used (100 words maximum)
The following six indicators were used:
1. Transparency (one of the foundational principles of risk communication)
2. Respect of infected individual’s human rights (a principle of epidemic response) and protection of personal data
3. Timeliness, responsiveness, efficiency, and efficacy (indicators for key policy assessments)
d. What were the main findings of the evaluation (e.g. adequacy of resources mobilized for the initiative, quality of implementation and challenges faced, main outcomes, sustainability of the initiative, impacts) and how this information is being used to inform the initiative’s implementation. (200 words maximum)
Based on a review of the Korean government’s COVID-19 response strategy according to the above indicators, the following results were obtained.
1. The Korean government transparently and quickly implemented the risk communication skills/strategies that had been systemized in the health and welfare sectors during the MERS outbreak. Also, by exponentially raising citizens’ faith in the government, it prepared a social foundation for real-time response to changes in infection/casualty rates.
2. By quickly correcting misguided responses in the early stages of the pandemic toward respecting the human rights of COVID-19 patients and protecting personal information, the government successfully encouraged citizens’ voluntary participation and trust, which in turn produced successful examples of public-private cooperation.
3. Society-wide cooperative governance was successfully created through not only inter-governmental but also public-private cooperation, thereby making policies timely, responsive, effective, and efficient
Please describe how the initiative is inscribed in the relevant institutional landscape (for example, how it was situated with respect to relevant government agencies, and how the institutional relationships with those have been operating). (200 words maximum)
<Policy and institutional protocols: role of CDSCH as control center>
The Korean government established the CDSCH, headed by the Prime Minister, to bolster government-wide responses to COVID-19.
Comprises all relevant central government ministries and 17 provinces and major cities.
CDSCH also oversees ad-hoc meetings when new challenges arise requiring in-depth deliberation.
<MOIS: communication window linking central and local governments to address local problems>
The Minister of Interior and Safety serves as Second Vice Deputy of the CDSCH to provide necessary assistance.
Secured sufficient infectious disease-specialized hospitals and beds (if the countermeasure required was beyond the capacity of local governments, the central government provided necessary resources, including beds, personnel, and supplies).
<Provided support by supplying personnel and supplies lacked by local governments and designing strategies for related problems>
The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said that the cooperation between the central and local governments has been crucial to identifying labor and supply problems and finding, implementing, and adjusting sustainable solutions.
The close collaboration between central and local government officials has been instrumental in ensuring effective management and adaptability, and will play a major role in the government’s efforts to overcome the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe which stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative and how this engagement took place. (200 words maximum)
<Close cooperation of central and local governments for systematic COVID-19 response>
All players of central and local government were mobilized to respond to COVID-19. The Mass Infection Rapid Response Team was founded to create an effective response system for regions with (or vulnerable to) mass infection.
<Timely and systematic COVID-19 response through public-private cooperation>
Cooperation with the private sector produced many useful outcomes. Conglomerates took the initiative by making their rainy day funds available to their partners, and the publicly-distributed face mask apps and COVID-19 Map are outcomes of public-private cooperation (private: app creation, public: provision of public data).
<Power of volunteers>
Activities by volunteers for local governments nationwide were of invaluable help in addressing COVID-19. Approximately 2.5 million volunteers have worked on the front lines of COVID-19 response.
<Creation of blueprint for return to normal life with diverse stakeholders>
Feedback was gained from diverse stakeholders (through citizen-led efforts) on how to gradually return to normal life through four sub-committees (economy and public livelihood, society and culture, local safety, and quarantine/healthcare). Methods for citizen participation and sustainable implementation were developed through the Open Communication Forum and Gwanghwamoon 1st Street, which were reviewed and applied to actual policies as needed.
Please describe the key lessons learned, and how your organization plans to improve the initiative. (200 words maximum)
<Overcoming COVID-19 through society-wide collaborative efforts>
At critical moments of the pandemic, volunteers selflessly dedicated themselves to serving at healthcare facilities to share the burden of medical care with those already in the field. Larger corporations also offered their training centers to be used as residential treatment centers.
<Timely vaccinations and ECRF payments through IT services>
Private IT companies made available their latest technologies and worked with public players to build systems that help citizens with vaccination and ECRF payments.
As a result, the vaccination rate has been steadily increasing through public-private cooperation, with many efforts made to bring stability and normalcy back to citizens’ lives through prompt ECRF payments.
<Social resilience through establishment of risk management governance systems>
We now know that, in the future, outbreaks similar to the COVID-19 pandemic can occur at any time. Governments worldwide are realizing the importance of cultivating not only domestic disease response abilities but also swift data collection and policy-based coordination among themselves in order to protect their citizens and economies. For adequate disaster response, we need governance systems for crisis management that are based on flexible participation by central and local governments, private companies, citizens, and other relevant stakeholders.