PEOPLE | Jun 27, 2017

Data is nothing without the process: interview with Dario Buttitta

What is the role of processes and therefore of data in the Pa’s digital transformation?

“For a brave, dignified and honest country”: this is his short presentation on Twitter, that contains the same keywords that distinguish his work in the management of Engineering’s Public Administration division. Dario Buttitta, who began his career in 1986 in Cerved as a programmer, is someone who knows technology well, but also the value of process organisation and of the need to rethink them totally when changing over to digital.

To almost quote an old Pirelli advert – Buttitta starts, describing the value of data in companies and in the PA – we might say that data is nothing without the process. To have data of value, which provides more efficient management as it is based on data, it is necessary to govern the processes in order to have reliable, interesting data.

Buttitta quotes several best practices: including that of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia with its Sistema Informativo Sanitario Integrato Regionale – SISaR – that, through the full digitalization of all administration and production processes in Sardinian hospitals, collects and provides the information for efficient management of patient health, from the accounting process of human resources and programming and control, to clinical-care processes in hospital and in the field, planning, booking and provision of specialist and diagnostic care.

“This is one of the Pa’s excellences – says Buttitta – that should be exported to other realities, as it is the first true experience in Italy of Sistema Informativo Sanitario Integrato, a unique system on a regional scale for all an area’s hospitals, capable of providing a healthcare view of the Regional Health Service and the assisted population’s state of health. Having joined merged data banks and having worked to digitalise processes in order to have reliable, available information has allowed Sardinia to make the citizen the central figure. As was the case with the dematerialisation of regional administrative processes project (more than 200) that brought about a real revolution and not just in transferring what was formerly on paper to digital.

Single, interoperable databases are the key.

This concept is repeated in the Digital Administration Code, as in another thousand opportunities, but without ever truly making data usable or guaranteeing its quality. It isn’t enough to show the information, it needs to make sense. During my experience, I have been able to find many local Pas that pay great attention to this topic, as unlike the central ones, they are directly in contact with the citizen and strongly feel the need to provide efficient services and data that can have a positive effect on the quality of people’s lives. Also, being able to improve efficiency through digitalisation has a strong political impact, which is especially appreciated in local PAs.

What is the role of the recently issued Three-year Plan?

The latest version of the document has many interesting aspects, especially from a mid-term strategic point of view, although I believe it has not been agreed with the periphery and risks being a central document (I hope not almost ignored like the previous ones). One of the elements of the plan that can definitely be implemented is the consolidation of data centres.

To implement the Plan, aside from theoretical elements which are discussed all too often at times, it is necessary to change the procurement tools, which are are still often inadequate.

What are the intervention priorities for a digitally-transformed PA?

In my opinion there are two things that need work: public administration employees’ digital skills and modern, flexible procurement systems.

With regard to the former, I must say that in recent years, I have met many capable employees. Bright people who can managed difficult situations, but often limited by rigid tools that do not help them to carry out their work. Investing in human capital mean being able to rely on competent people during the preparation of tenders, for example.

The current procurement system, unfortunately, makes the Pas to carry out contracts that are completed after several years, and that is crazy. I don’t think it is necessary to repeat that in the digital world any project must be reviewed after 6 months, as it will be surpassed.

It would be necessary to abandon the old approach to tenders, more aimed at making people behave honestly, rather than making it sure something can be done. I would like people’s honesty to be taken for granted (aside from the fact that we have all the tools to reveal anyone who isn’t and punish them) and that work is given greater liberty and agility.

What is needed to revamp the economy, also using the revamp of the PA?

I would like to hear of other firstsmore often, an IT first. Because technology, innovation and digital processes driven by the PA also relaunch the economy. I am fully convinced that a qualified demand by the public can select the companies and make the supply improve. I would like there to be no concerns for companies that can’t keep up and fail because they can’t make innovative offers. I would like there to be a Darwin-style selection of companies, so that the best survive, the ones that invest in research and development and can satisfy the PA’s tough demands. To do this, no slogans are needed, just important investments and courageous actions.

We need less storytelling and tales than ever today about how good we are. We need silent people who do things.

Sonia Montegiove