Digitization can help make our lives easier without leaving anyone behind. The list of advantages that technology has brought us is so long that they do not fit in these lines. The last example we saw during the months of confinement of the pandemic. We were able to communicate and work from home and the country and the entire world were prevented from coming to a complete halt. Public administrations also adapted to this exceptional moment by applying new formulas for relating to citizens, such as prior appointments or the obligation to carry out procedures online. It is all very well that the institutions play the role of advance guard, but if there are errors or problems are detected in this process, they should be the first to notice and correct them. Otherwise, the rest of the private services may follow the wrong example.
Fortunately, we have left the pandemic behind and it is time to recover practices that citizens demand. In this sense, the request of the Síndica de Greuges, Esther Giménez-Salinas, to the administrations so that the prior appointment ceases to be a mandatory requirement to serve citizens, especially if it has to be obtained digitally, is very correct. The Ombudsman recalls that Law 39/2015 of October 1 indicates that natural persons are not obliged to interact with administrations electronically and, therefore, face-to-face attention must be guaranteed. And this directly connects with another issue that is difficult to address and that is the teleworking regime for civil servants that was imposed in the pandemic and that is still in force because political leaders do not have the courage to reverse it to provide a better service to citizens. We will be wrong if digitization becomes a way of moving away from citizens. Taxpayers need that personal relationship to help them solve problems and bureaucracy in which, often, the administrations themselves put them. For this reason, I share the claim of the Ombudsman when she says that public administrations must be kind in the sense that they simplify the procedures to make them more accessible and simple. Although I fear that we are very far from that and the trend seems to be getting worse.