Over the past year, the public sector has faced monumental challenges associated with the pandemic. Governments have found innovative ways to overcome these difficulties, from vaccine development to contact tracing efforts. Few of these critical initiatives would have been possible without public and private sector partnerships (PPPs) between governments and businesses. While PPP’s have been around for decades, their power to deliver rapid transformation and innovation has brought them renewed attention – and appreciation – during the pandemic.
Partnerships build trust
For the past decade, Americans’ trust in Washington has deteriorated, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated this decline. At the height of the pandemic, studies showed that only 20% of Americans trusted the federal government to “do the right thing” most or all the time. Only 42% believed the government was effectively handling threats to public health. As the U.S. continues its vaccination rollout, it must restore trust in the public sector. PPPs may provide a solution to this problem.
Over the past year, PPPs have supported the public sector by streamlining pandemic response efforts, allowing rapid contact tracing, an easier transition to telework, and optimized vaccine deployment.
Last summer, Salesforce pledged its support for the public sector’s contact tracing efforts when it launched Work.com, a suite of resources for comprehensive contact tracing and an emergency response management system. Work.com provided a centralized resource center and a “trusted partner ecosystem” of public health experts and business leaders to provide insights and analysis on the best ways for both the public and private sector to respond amidst the pandemic.
This year, Salesforce launched a global vaccine management CRM platform, Vaccine Cloud, to help governments, healthcare groups, and businesses rapidly plan, develop, and launch vaccine programs. Vaccine Cloud is now used by public health organizations worldwide to accelerate the vaccination process by getting more “shots in arms” across the country.
Record of success
When asked about the role of PPPs in an interview last summer with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated, “The role of the private sector is paramount … There is no way the government alone is going to fix this. It’s a collaboration between government authorities and the private sector.” The contact tracing program in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was a prime example of Dr. Fauci’s vision for these partnerships.
Early on in the pandemic, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the Massachusetts COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC), a robust partnership with the public health nonprofit organization Partners In Health (PIH). With the additional resources provided by PIH, the collaborative effort effectively accelerated the state’s ability to flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Additionally, Massachusetts worked closely with private educational institutions such as MIT and Harvard to drastically expand the number of COVID-19 testing sites and laboratories. Thanks to effective private and public leadership, Massachusetts was one of the best-prepared states in the country to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic.
PPPs will continue to serve as invaluable assets to the public sector long after this pandemic has passed. The recently passed American Rescue Plan (ARP), allocates $10 billion in funding to infrastructure-related projects. These financial resources allow both the public and private sectors to address public works issues brought to light in the wake of COVID-19, like the lack of access to broadband internet in rural and impoverished regions.
With nearly 72% of employed Americans stating they could not perform their jobs during the pandemic without an internet connection, a clear resource gap has emerged. In the fast-approaching post-pandemic world, the ARP’s infrastructure funding could be allocated towards efficient PPPs to close this gap and expand internet access to all Americans.
COVID-19 has posed one seemingly insurmountable challenge after another through the course of the global crisis. However, through all of this, the public and private sectors collaborated on an unprecedented scale to solve problems as efficiently as possible. The post-COVID world will bring its own unique difficulties and setbacks. Still, with the combined power of public-private partnerships, we can prepare to tackle these problems head-on, ushering in a new era for public and private sector collaboration.