Across the world, public services are rapidly being digitized. However, because of poor public procurement supplier contracts, poor laws, and a lack of governance processes and bodies, and because of competency gaps from all parties involved, digitization is happening in a void. As a consequence, harms are caused and rights are violated, threatening the future of quality public services. From the vantage point of public services as a service as well as a workplace, this article discusses potential remedies to ensure that digitalization does not affect the quality of public services as services and as places of employment. It spells out the additional measures that will be needed to fill the void ethically and ensure that fundamental human rights, freedoms, and autonomy are protected. It concludes that we need to simultaneously slow down and hurry up. We must take the time to get the necessary safeguards in place and continually ask whether more technology really is the right solution to the challenges we face. But also, we need to hurry up to build a critical understanding of the current mode of digitalization so alternatives can be tabled. The article is based on conversations with union members across the world, a literature review, and the author’s own studies of the digitalization of public services and employment.



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