copy the linklink copied!3. Governance for sustainable and inclusive digital government

Chapter 3 provides an assessment of the governance of digital government in Mexico. It describes and appraises the National Digital Strategy and its structures. Furthermore, this chapter considers the progress made in setting up the enablers of the digital transformation. In addition, this chapter takes in what the digital transformation entails for the political leadership, and how senior leadership in the public sector enable digital government implementation and innovation. The chapter closes with an analysis of the organisational structure and architecture that underpins digital government policy in Mexico.


The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

copy the linklink copied!The National Digital Strategy (2013-18)

Since the launch of the OECD Public Governance Review in 2011, the government of Mexico took decisive steps to continue to push forward the digital agenda as a means to achieve better government, economic growth, and social and digital inclusion. Under the 2012-18 federal administration, a new National Digital Strategy (Estrategia Digital Nacional, EDN) was launched, with a clear articulation with the public sector reform programme and the National Development Plan, thus recognising the strategic value of digitalisation for the public sector and society more broadly. The Coordination of the National Digital Strategy office was created under the Office of the President to oversee and co-ordinate the implementation of the EDN.

The Mexican National Development Plan for the 2013-18 period included three cross cutting strategies: 1) democratising productivity; 2) closer and modern government; and 3) gender perspective (Government of Mexico, 2013b). The Closer and Modern Government Programme is structured around 5 objectives which are themselves broken down into 209 lines of action (Government of Mexico, 2013c). The five objectives are to:

  1. 1. promote an open government that fosters accountability in the federal public administration (Administración Pública Federal, APF)

  2. 2. strengthen results-based budgeting of the APF, including federalised spending

  3. 3. optimise the use of the APF’s resources

  4. 4. improve public management in the APF

  5. 5. establish a National Digital Strategy that accelerates Mexico into the information and knowledge society.

By putting digital and data at the centre of its public sector reform efforts, Mexico took consequential steps to embed a new culture in its civil service and prepare the country to better respond to an age of technological disruption.

The EDN, its structure and objectives have a significant focus on improving public sector performance (Government of Mexico, 2013a). It identified five strategic objectives that would drive the digital transformation of government, education, health, the economy and government-citizen relations (Figure 3.1).

As highlighted in the previous chapter, Mexico identified early on the power of digital and has been consistently making efforts to achieve excellence and innovate its public management and service delivery. These efforts have paid off. The country has firmly established itself as a leader in Latin America and the Caribbean and, progressively, the world, as its performance in international metrics show (Figure 3.2).

However, while this success should be seen as a recognition for the work done, it should not lead to complacency. Despite the critical importance of digital disruption, digital strategies often fail (Bughin et al., 2018). The digital transformation implies both innovation in service delivery models and operations driven by a thorough understanding of digital economics, including scale, network effects, near-zero marginal costs, ecosystem approaches and the value delivered to the user.

Governments often operate in political environments of competing interests and changing policy priorities, but the digital transformation of government demands sustained effort. Effective governance in the 21st century will require governments to embed advancements in analytics into public sector operations, at all levels and sectors, to draw new insights, enable smart automation where valuable, develop new business models and make public policy more effective. The digital disruption has barely started, and it is likely to accelerate. Deprioritising the digital transformation of the public sector or overseeing the current and upcoming challenges could result in significant failures in the Mexican public sector. This study seeks to flag these potential pitfalls for the Mexican government and encourage constructive and informed action going forward.

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Figure 3.1. Structure of the Mexican National Digital Strategy: Objectives and enablers
Figure 3.1. Structure of the Mexican National Digital Strategy: Objectives and enablers

Source: Government of Mexico (2013a), Estrategia Nacional Digital,

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Figure 3.2. Mexico’s performance in international indices on digital government
Figure 3.2. Mexico’s performance in international indices on digital government

Source: OECD (2018a), Open Government Data Report: Enhancing Policy Maturity for Sustainable Impact,; UNDESA (2018), “E-Government Survey”.

The enablers of the digital transformation

Mexico’s National Digital Strategy relies on five enablers that will make the transformation possible. This section will provide a brief overview of the efforts made and the areas of opportunity for Mexico going forward.


Access to basic ICT infrastructure, and notably the Internet, is the enabler and backbone of the digital revolution. By this metric, Mexico has performed below the OECD average, with a relatively low share of the population using the Internet. However, in 2013, Mexico took bold, courageous action to address this challenge and accelerate the country’s transition towards a digital economy, society and government. Most remarkably, access to the Internet and broadband was recognised as a constitutional right for all Mexican citizens as of June 20131.

By setting the right to access the Internet, the government of Mexico put pressure on public institutions to live up to this standard. Mexico Conectado2 is a programme dedicated to bringing broadband connectivity to public institutions and public spaces across the whole Mexican territory. According to the programme’s indicators, so far 68 806 schools, 9 935 public spaces, 9 757 hospitals, 6 033 community areas, 6 690 government institutions and 101 research centres3 have been connected to broadband as part of this effort. Mexico Conectado has connected a total of 101 322 places in an attempt to tackle the digital divide and improve coverage. The government also focused on creating enabling conditions for the private sector to continue to invest in required infrastructure to enable digitalisation.

While Mexico still scores below the OECD average (Figure 3.3), it has experienced significant and accelerating growth in the number of Internet users in the country, particularly after 2014. Indeed, the share of the Mexican population that was connected to the Internet went from 44.4% in 2014 to 57.4% in 2015, and has continued to grow since.

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Figure 3.3. Internet users as share of the total population
Figure 3.3. Internet users as share of the total population

Source: World Bank (2018), World Development Indicators (database),

Mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants has experienced even faster growth than the number of Internet users (Figure 3.4). However, its growth rate has stalled comparatively in recent years, falling substantively behind OECD peers and countries from Latin America and the Caribbean (Figure 3.4).

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Figure 3.4. Mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
Figure 3.4. Mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants

Source: World Bank (2018), World Development Indicators (database),

While Mexico has made substantial progress, the development and adoption of key strategic infrastructure to support the new digital revolution is an area of opportunity requiring special attention. This is particularly true for the case of broadband. Indeed, Mexico comes next to last in terms of fixed broadband subscriptions among OECD countries (Figure 3.5). It also performs poorly in terms of mobile broadband subscriptions, topping only Greece, Hungary and Colombia among its peers (Figure 3.6). From a digital government perspective, Mexico would do well to double down on its efforts to expand connectivity and inclusion, as it would allow the country to reap the full benefits from public sector transformation and the digitalisation of the economy and society.

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Figure 3.5. OECD fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by technology, December 2017
Figure 3.5. OECD fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by technology, December 2017

Notes: Canada: fixed wireless includes satellite. France: cable includes VDSL2 THD. Germany: cable includes HFC lines; fibre includes fibre lines provided by cable operators; fixed wireless includes BWA subscribers; other includes leased lines. Israel: temporary OECD estimates. Italy: terrestrial fixed wireless data include WiMax lines; other includes vDSL services. Switzerland and United States: data for December 2017 are estimates. Information on data for Israel:

Source: OECD Broadband Portal,

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Figure 3.6. OECD mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by technology, December 2017
Figure 3.6. OECD mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by technology, December 2017

Notes: Israel: temporary OECD estimates. Switzerland: data for December 2017 are estimates. United States: data from Ovum.

Information on data for Israel:

Source: OECD Broadband Portal,

Digital skills and inclusion

Building the digital skills of society can help drive innovation in the production of goods and services as well as their adoption, use and consumption by members of society, thus enabling new business models. The National Digital Strategy (EDN) points to social inclusion and the development of digital skills as critical factors making digital success possible in the country. Flagship initiatives like Prospera Digital (Box 3.1) are proof of these efforts.

MéxicoX4 is a key initiative on the development of digital skills and inclusion in Mexico. Developed by the Ministry of Public Education (Secretaría de Educación Pública, SEP) in co-ordination with the Coordination of the National Digital Strategy in the Office of the President, MéxicoX is an online learning platform with over 230 courses, ranging from specialised and academic training all the way to the training of teachers, national, cultural and global challenges (OECD, 2018b). According to the 2018 OECD Survey on Digital Government, this platform has over 1.5 million enrolled users so far (OECD, 2018b).

Another important initiative seeking to advance digital skills and inclusion is This initiative has run pilots aimed at improving students’ access to digital technologies and their responsible and conscious use of the Internet. It has also enhanced equipment in schools and classrooms with new technologies while creating a learning community for teachers facilitating the sharing of good practices in the use of digital technologies in teaching.

While the initiative is promising, there are many shortcomings that still need to be addressed. The programme has yet to develop indicators of success to understand its impact on broader education outcomes or skills development. Moreover, it is unclear whether the measures aimed at fostering the use of digital technologies in the education process are robust enough to instil a digital and innovation culture among teachers.

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Box 3.1. Leveraging new technologies to foster inclusion with Prospera Digital

Prospera Digital is one of the flagship initiatives of the Mexican government using new technologies to help advance social inclusion. The initiative has sought to transform the largest social programme in Mexico and the second largest conditioned cash transfer in the world using user-centred design, digital delivery systems and data-driven strategies.

The initiative, led by Prospera and the National Bank of Savings and Financial Services with the support of the Coordination of the National Digital Strategy and other relevant stakeholders, consisted in the following:

  • User research: interviews, surveys and field research to identify the need for tailored digital financial products and education to help advance financial inclusion.

  • Intervention design: including delivery systems and financial education modules and materials.

  • Experimentation: A series of pilots are being run using randomised controlled trials to test different digital systems (mobile applications and debit cards) to deliver benefits, complemented with a financial education programme and application, providing relevant information to support households’ financial decisions. Mobile solutions also provide mothers with critical maternal health advice.

  • Scale up: Based on the results of these pilots, tailored solutions and digital delivery systems and interfaces will be scaled up, potentially reaching 7 million households, or roughly 30 million Mexicans.

Sources: OECD (2015), “Digital government toolkit: Good practices – Prospera Digital”, on 26 October 2018);; UNICEF (2015), “The case of Prospera Digital”, (accessed on 26 October 2018); Coordination of the National Digital Strategy (2018), “National Digital Strategy – Project files”, unpublished.

It is, however, a sign of hope that Mexico recognises these shortcomings and is taking steps to address these issues and make educational transformation viable and sustainable. It is working with other countries from Latin America and the Caribbean to strengthen the use of ICTs in the education sector, overall digital skills and computational thinking in their respective countries

An additional critique that could be raised against this programme is that insufficient attention is paid to low-skilled workers that will increasingly face pressures to reskill and upskill to acquire at the very least basic digital skills. The rise of automation makes this all the more relevant and urgent. The digital strategy should push relevant stakeholders in government to focus on identifying particularly vulnerable groups and take action early. The transition towards broad automation may after all take place more rapidly than we expect.


The focus on enhancing interoperability as a driver of government business process and service delivery transformation is one of the key bets of the Mexican government and rightly so. The Mexican single portal,, with the support of a new normative framework for digital government, has been driving interoperability between sectors and government departments. In addition, the initiative InteroperaMX6 a platform facilitating the sharing of reliable data, has been an outstanding achievement in fostering data sharing and interoperability within the public sector.

InteroperaMX, inspired by the Estonian X-Road, is a platform that allows public institutions to share reliable and trustworthy data, with clear identification of the source and certification of the information. The driver for this effort is the vision for a public administration where the user only has to provide information once to the public sector (once only principle).

The birth certificate is the use case chosen by the government to illustrate the power of InteroperaMX and thus of interoperability in the public sector. A birth certificate is required as proof of identity for 2 210 or 46% of all public procedures and services at the federal level. To grasp the high impact of this use case it is important to keep in mind that 45% of completed government transactions in Mexico concern proofs of identity and civil registration (IDB, 2018). In its analogue format, the birth certificate has a considerable financial impact in terms of explicit and implicit costs for the citizen (money and time investments), in particular for those with the lowest income. The government of Mexico estimates that Mexican citizens invested MXN 2.2 billion in 2016 (approximately USD 115.5 million), with the poorest 10% spending roughly 1.5% of their real annual income. These estimates do not include costs related to transportation, bribery or time spent to complete the procedure.7

So far, 2.75 million birth certificates have been downloaded.8 Thanks to InteroperaMX, Mexico now benefits from 8 certified trusted sources, 65 services use the Single Identity Number for the Population Registry (Clave Única del Registro de Población, CURP)9, 150 services that are interoperable with the birth certificate and ID, and 450 services that are interoperable with the Mexican digital signature (e.firma).10

Interoperability and digital identity are considered key enablers of the digital transformation as these components facilitate the secure sharing of data to help the public sector to reliably determine the identity, duties and entitlements of service users. These initiatives have enormous potential to drive transformation both within the public sector and outside of it by enabling digital delivery models. However, they so far lack scale or sufficient transparency around the use and sharing of personal data by public institutions. This final point is one that could and should be considered for future iterations (Box 3.2).

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Box 3.2. Carpeta Ciudadana (citizen file): Enhancing data management and service delivery in Spain

The Spanish administration has implemented the “Carpeta Ciudadana”, or citizen file. Carpeta Ciudadana provides citizens with a simple and agile single point of access to gain information on their open files and procedures with the Spanish public administration. Citizens can also directly contact the public institutions responsible for following up on such files to obtain more information.

Carpeta Ciudadana also provides citizens with information on their personal data currently held by the public administration and what institutions currently have the citizens’ consent to use specific data. The platform allows the citizen to trace the sharing of data that concerns him/her between public institutions. As of June 2017, Carpeta Ciudadana included the participation of a limited number of services and public institutions, but ongoing efforts exist to significantly increase the number of services included in this platform.

The current version of the citizen file is being reviewed in view of revamping the platform to include new functionalities. In particular, a future version would allow the users to know exactly what their data have been used for.

Source: Government of Spain (n.d.), “Carpeta Ciudadana”, webpage (in Spanish), (accessed on 9 February 2018); and internal documents from the 2017 E-Leaders’ Thematic Group on Personal Data Ownership and Transparency

Legal framework

The legal and regulatory framework for digital government and ICTs is an inevitable component of adjusting governance to the digital age. In this domain, Mexico has also taken significant steps in this direction. Following the above-mentioned constitutional reform, Article 6, in its third paragraph, of the Mexican Constitution now reads:

The state will guarantee the right to free access to information and communications technologies, as well as broadcasting and telecommunication services, including broadband and the Internet. For these purposes, the state will establish conditions for effective competition in the provision of those services.

Indeed, the 2012-18 Peña Nieto administration has focused important energies on fostering competition in the telecommunications sector. It has also pushed for a modernisation of the regulatory and normative framework governing digital government.

The current legal and regulatory framework of digital government in Mexico provides a framework for the progressive digital integration of the federal public administration (APF). Indeed, the APF has progressively established procedures that facilitate the sharing of digital documents and data to avoid duplications across public services for business11 and individual users12 (OECD, 2018b). The APF Agreement on Interoperability and Open Data13 sets the framework for data, semantic, organisational and technical interoperability, further specified in the technical guidelines and standards.14

Furthermore, the modernisation of the legal and regulatory framework has also sought to ensure better standards for procuring technology in the public sector, including the use of cloud computing, open source software, as well as structuring ICT projects and ensuring cybersecurity of government systems (OECD, 2018b). The General Law on Personal Data Protection15 has brought greater clarity to the existing legal and regulatory framework on privacy protection in Mexico. 16

Substantial efforts have also been made to establish a clear regulatory framework17 for open government data along with supporting implementation guides18 (OECD, 2018c), and to provide the necessary legal conditions for the adoption of the advanced electronic signature19 and digital identification mechanisms.20 In addition, new rules and regulations exist for the management of digital documents21 and a National Cybersecurity Strategy has been established.22

These changes should be welcome and encouraged. They provide a framework that enables more joined-up and data-driven approaches in the implementation of digital government. However, more is needed for these approaches to be streamlined and ingrained in the fabric of government as default ways of working. More importantly, the digital disruption will continue to raise new issues, challenge conventional thinking and approaches, which will push existing frameworks to the edge and require regulators and policy makers alike to rethink the rules governing the system. As the government of Mexico seeks to enhance service delivery through digital approaches, it seems of critical importance that frameworks such as those dedicated to ICT commissioning are revised to support digital technologies and methodologies (see Chapter 3).

Open government data

Data, including open government data (OGD), is a strategic enabler of the digital transformation that allows government to work as a platform for the co-creation of public value (OECD, 2018a). OGD is driven by digital era values and principles of openness and transparency. Open-by-default standards give governments the opportunity to leverage outside talent and capabilities not only to help advance government accountability, but also public sector performance and social and economic innovations that deliver convenient new services.

In 2016 the government of Mexico, through the Coordination of the National Digital Strategy, the General Direction of Open Data and the Ministry of Public Administration partnered with the OECD to perform an OECD Open Government Data Review of Mexico (OECD, 2016b). The review provided an assessment of open government data policies in Mexico in the light of the OECD analytical framework for open government data (Ubaldi, 2013) and international best practices. The review highlighted opportunities for Mexico to reap the full benefits of OGD and continue to advance towards a strategic use of data to support the digital transformation of government, society and the economy.

Most notably, the OECD review advanced the following recommendations:

Governance: Building a pro-open data public sector

  1. 1. Sustain the co-ordination of the OGD policy implementation between the Office of the President and other relevant institutions (e.g. the SFP).

  2. 2. Ensure availability and continuity of federal funding for open data policy.

  3. 3. Develop a structured National Open Data Strategy driven by the needs of the Mexican ecosystem.

  4. 4. Support the definition and publication of a single legal instrument covering all regulations and guidelines covering personal data protection.

  5. 5. Ensure the continuity of technical support bodies providing guidance to public institutions in line with OGD policy.

  6. 6. Highlight the relevance of chief data officers within public institutions.

  7. 7. Foster government-to-government collaboration between public institutions.

Towards a demand- and value-driven data disclosure

  1. 1. Run regular consultation exercises with different user groups.

  2. 2. Update the central OGD portal into a data request and data co-creation platform.

  3. 3. Support line ministries to connect with users of their data.

Building skills of user communities

  1. 1. Provide capacity building for broader society and specific user groups.

  2. 2. Use Retos Públicos as a two-way data exchange platform.

  3. 3. Leverage Retos Públicos to build the capacities of public institutions to engage with user communities.

Open data and data-driven economy

  1. 1. Perform exercises to identify business-oriented data demand.

  2. 2. Leverage the networks of the Ministry of Economy to develop a data-driven economy.

  3. 3. Develop partnerships with academia to stimulate data-driven entrepreneurship.

Towards a data-driven public sector

  1. 1. Utilise open data reuse and its potential for organisational efficiency by improving G2G data-sharing.

  2. 2. Involve public officials in the design and implementation of OGD policies.

  3. 3. Use Open Data Squads to build institutional capacities and co-ordination on data analytics’ efforts.

Open data at the local level

  1. 1. Expand the areas of work of the Open Mexico Network to increase its relevance for local communities.

  2. 2. Sustain multi-level collaboration through the Open Mexico Network.

  3. 3. Leverage the Open Mexico Network to (1) strengthen horizontal collaboration between local governments and (2) further connect local governments with the international open data ecosystem.

  4. 4. Co-ordinate with local governments to further reach stakeholders at the local level for greater value co-creation.

The 2016 Open Government Data Review of Mexico benefited from a follow-up project in 2018 to assess the progress made since the publication of the review in terms of implementation. The study provided a general overview of the state of implementation of the recommendations advanced in the 2016 review (Figure 3.7).

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Figure 3.7. Results of the 2018 OECD Open Government Data Review of Mexico: General summary
Figure 3.7. Results of the 2018 OECD Open Government Data Review of Mexico: General summary

In addition, the 2018 report assessed the present environment to make forward-looking recommendations that would help the government of Mexico make strategic choices today so that the national OGD ecosystem continues to grow in maturity and robustness (OECD, 2018c). The study focused on assessing the overarching frameworks that would support a sustained effort in setting up open data as an enabler or infrastructure for the digital transformation of the Mexican society. It particular, it encouraged the Mexican government to:

  • formalise the positions of chief data officer and chief digital transformation officer and consider the establishment of a digitalisation agency responsible for co ordinating the country’s digital agenda

  • ensure the regular flow of funds to implement open data policy and initiatives

  • strengthen the national legal framework for open government data to support policy continuity and set clear regulations and improve capacities within public sector institutions to make data available and accessible

  • develop a dedicated national open data roadmap, in line with the overall national digital agenda, the National Digital Strategy

  • further connect open data initiatives with other sectoral policies and sustain the current efforts to use open data for anti-corruption, public procurement of major infrastructure projects, natural risk management and social inclusion

  • support the appointment of institutional chief data officers in line ministries and ensure inter-institutional collaboration through horizontal co-ordination bodies

  • develop open data understanding, skills and capacities across the public sector

  • develop data architecture and data governance models for the public sector, and connect these efforts to the overall open data policy

  • continue efforts to strengthen the value of the MX Open Data Infrastructure (IDMX) for all actors and for policy sustainability

  • improve the usefulness and user-friendliness of the central open data portal; build capacities among key partners such as journalists and civil society organisations

  • enable collective efforts to map the open data ecosystem

  • involve major private sector players in order to make the business case for open data in Mexico and explore the implementation of government-led seed funding.

This recent assessment by the OECD remains valid today and relevant as Mexico seeks to push forward and mature the open government data in the country.

copy the linklink copied!Political leadership: Creating an enabling environment for change

To drive the transformation, the government of Mexico must take bold action and make the digital government efforts sustainable in the long term. Securing the right level of political support and leadership is fundamental in this respect.

Successful digital strategies in the public sector need political sponsors that are willing to challenge organisations’ status quo bias (Bracken and Greenway, 2018). Leadership is a key component in all reform and change management strategies, but digital disruption is putting additional pressure on political leaders and senior managers to be and remain engaged.

At a fundamental level, political leaders create the authorising environment that allows digital leaders in the public sector to take action and drive change within and across institutions. It is the political support that empowers the public administration to act against legacy systems and settled interest groups (i.e. traditional public sector IT providers unwilling to adjust). Political leadership also helps convene relevant stakeholders to work together towards a common goal (Andrews, Pritchett and Woolcock, 2017).

In addition, political leaders and senior managers are responsible for setting the public sector’s or their organisation’s strategic direction. Successful digital transformation of the public sector must: leverage digital strategies and technologies to support public policy objectives; and transform the public sector processes, operating models and service delivery arrangements.

Setting organisational strategies in the digital age has become increasingly challenging for political leaders and chief executives. To appropriately understand the strategic choices at hand, public sector leadership has little choice but to become familiar with the notions around emerging technologies to grasp their strategic implications (Díaz, Rowshankish and Saleh, 2018).

Senior executives must understand how new tools, like artificial intelligence, machine learning algorithms, the Internet of Things (IoT) or blockchain could impact their sectors and organisations. Only this will set them up for success, allowing them to take sound decisions as they set out to develop, endorse and push a shared vision for their organisation(s) going forward. Yet, digital is also increasingly likely to raise sensitive political and ethical questions. Digital success in the public sector will thus need growing involvement of high-level political leadership, which is both inevitable and desirable.

International experiences highlight that successful digital government strategies need political sponsorship that is able to drive change across government institutions and functions (Bracken and Greenway, 2018; Bracken et al., 2018). Transforming government requires the mobilisation of a myriad of actors, networks, structures and systems, which demands substantial political capability. Because of these requirements in terms of political leverage, digital government authorities are very often located at a central department or ministry, close or within the centre of government, with a transversal mandate such as a cabinet office, Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Public Administration. It is no coincidence that 30 out of 37 OECD countries and 18 out of the top 20 governments in the UN eGovernment Index have located their digital government authority in cross-cutting or transversal ministries. This is also consistent with previous OECD work on the comparative governance and leadership of digital government (OECD, 2016a).

Mexico has successfully adopted a model where the political push comes from the centre, the Coordination of the National Digital Strategy located at the Office of the President, and the implementing drive and support comes from the Ministry of Public Administration. In the past six years, this couple, led by the Coordination of the National Digital Strategy, has been able to support digital government reform, most notably by:

  • securing the political capital and support for implementation

  • helping bring clarity and definition to the shared vision embodied in the National Digital Strategy

  • convening, connecting and engaging critical stakeholders throughout the policy cycle, helping align interests and efforts in favour of successful implementation

  • strategic staffing and building capabilities to support the strategic objectives and delivery

  • motivating and inspiring stakeholders responsible for delivery

  • nurturing a culture of digital innovation in government.

Measured by the rate of digitalisation of public services, this model has delivered. As highlighted in Chapters 1 and 2, Mexico has consolidated itself as a regional leader when it comes to the level of digitalisation of government transactions (IDB, 2018; OECD, 2018b). However, this model is not without its shortcomings.

One key weakness of the current Mexican model is that a disproportionate level of the political drive – and thus the ability to exert influence across sectors – depends on individual executives within the President’s Office, who might often struggle to find the time required to effectively drive the digitalisation agenda (Bracken and Greenway, 2018). Experience shows that while digital agendas operated from the office of the head of government or head of state can be extremely effective, they also risk becoming too closely associated with a specific executive or political leader. This means that the digital agenda risks losing relevance every time the individual in question moves on to a new role or the administration changes. The current Mexican model provides no certain answer for the need to ensure sustained efforts in digital government implementation.

There is thus a paradox that appears to need solving: namely, the tension between the need for a political push from the centre and the risk of insufficient attention due to competing priorities within the Office of the President.

Several of the most digitally advanced OECD countries have attempted to solve this tension by creating a dedicated agency for digitalisation with a dedicated senior executive reporting directly to an institution with the necessary political clout to drive government-wide change, such as President’s Office or a Ministry of Finance (OECD, 2016a). This type of arrangement has provided digitalisation agencies with the necessary political support to achieve transversal reform, establish agile and collaborative approaches across the administration, and create incentives that support cultural change. The mandate to focus on digitalisation has often ensured adequate levels of accountability, specialisation and a reasonable scope for organisational performance assessment. Just as importantly, these digitalisation agencies have had the budget, convening and enforcement power required to accelerate the development of a robust and dynamic digital ecosystem, thus providing for sustained and effective efforts in government transformation.

copy the linklink copied!Organisational frameworks to deliver on digital ambitions

The challenge of enabling and sustaining the digital transformation of the public sector is more than technical, that is to say, mostly cultural, organisational and political. The key question is: how does the public sector get organised to deliver on its digital ambitions? The answer to this question, as in all governance and political questions, is largely contextual. It depends on the specific characteristics of the problem; the written and unwritten rules of the operating environment; and the political, economic and social variables underpinning institutional arrangements. However, broad lessons can be drawn from international experiences and success stories (OECD, 2014, 2016a; n.d.).

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Box 3.3. Digitalisation agencies in Portugal and Denmark

Given the complexity and the disruptive potential of digitalisation and the redesigning of government functioning and operations, to achieve its goals the unit or function in charge of such a feat must count on strong political support and commitment and the ability to drive cross-sector transformation. Locating the digital government authority in close proximity to powerful government institutions (e.g. centre of government, Ministry of Finance) provides it with significant political clout, while ensuring that its leadership is focused on its role and mandate.

For instance, the Portuguese Administrative Modernisation Agency, an executive agency, is located at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and has substantive powers in terms of allocation of financial resources and approval of ICT projects. The Administrative Modernisation Agency manages the administrative modernisation financing programme, which is composed of EU structural funds and national resources. This gives the agency important leverage to ensure the implementation as the approval of funding for digital government projects through this programme is conditioned on compliance with existing guidelines and standards. Similarly, every ICT project of EUR 10 000 or more must be approved by the operational e-government network that is chaired by the Administrative Modernisation Agency. This network verifies compliance with guidelines, the non-duplication of efforts, and compares prices and budgets with previous projects in order to ensure the best value for money.

Similarly, the Danish Agency for Digitalisation sits under the Ministry of Finance, which under the annual budget negotiations verifies that the agency’s guidelines, standards and strategic directions are being followed before granting budget to any digitalisation initiative or programme. It has also helped drive the digitalisation agenda thanks to its broad political influence and focus on efficiency and productivity gains for the public sector.

Source: OECD (2016a), Digital Government in Chile: Strengthening the Institutional and Governance Framework,

Since 2001, Mexico has progressively taken steps to improve the organisational structures supporting its public sector digitalisation and modernisation efforts. The partnership between the now extinct President’s Government Innovation Office (and subsequently the Coordination of the National Digital Strategy, operating today at the Office of the President) and the Ministry of Public Administration has allowed the government of Mexico to achieve more robust integration of digital efforts, from connectivity to digital economy and society as well as government transformation. It also secured enough political capital to launch an ambitious, mission-driven initiative to overhaul the government services portal. As a result, Mexico’s, a single window for government services and digital public participation, is widely regarded as an international good practice.

As the Mexican government becomes more digitally mature and sophisticated and digitally driven disruption accelerates, the question that should be asked is whether these arrangements will suffice to ensure continued, government-wide digital development in Mexico.

Digital government policy and implementation co-ordination has been pushed forward by the National Digital Strategy and its Coordination office at the Office of the President; an increasingly robust legal and regulatory framework; and a set of standards, guidelines and toolkits that have allowed the public administration to increasingly harmonise processes and procedures in the APF. Furthermore, the Executive Council Inter-ministerial Commission for e-Government Development (Comisión Intersecretarial para el Desarrollo del Gobierno Electrónico, CIDGE) has ensured technical and operational co-ordination of the implementation of the strategy. The sub-commissions and technical teams of the CIDGE have proved to be critical in the operationalisation of key components of the National Digital Strategy, including digital identity and signature, open data, strategic ICT commissioning and interoperability, among others.

However, while these mechanisms have brought Mexico a long way in terms of technical co-ordination, their limitations become evident when it comes to high-level political co ordination and implementation. The highest ranking co-ordination body for digital government implementation, the CIDGE, meets only at the level of heads of ICT units.23 While this co-ordination structure has been tremendously successful so far, it is unclear whether it will be sufficient going forward.

Given that digital decisions will inevitably become more intertwined with organisation-wide strategic and political decisions (see above), a space or body for high-level inter institutional co-ordination and strategic orientation on digital matters beyond ad hoc deliberation becomes increasingly necessary. In such a context, the political leadership and the heads of digital teams across the public sector would both be empowered by working closer together and more effectively if they are to effectively push the Mexican federal public administration into worldwide digital leadership.

Indeed, digital transformation implies putting digital opportunities at the core of organisational and government strategy. A change of mind-set is needed to cease seeing technology as merely a support function and come to appreciate it as a highly strategic one. Taking that premise to its logical conclusion means bringing digital out of ICT units into high-level policy discussions.

The analysis of technological trends and the current political dynamics in digital government policy seems to have two main implications: 1) set up a high-level collegial body for the strategic inter-institutional co-ordination of digital government across the federal public administration. This latter body would not replace the very much needed implementation co-ordination level that brings together the leaders of ICT units across the federal administration, but would be a new level of governance meeting at a ministerial or head of agency level; 2) Mexico might benefit from establishing more direct relationships between the digital leaders or digital transformation officers and the political leadership of their respective institutions.


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← 7. Government estimates are captured on an internal assessment of the birth certificate project and are based on 2016 data. The data used for the analysis come from the National Population Registry, average costs of birth certificates as provided by the 32 Mexican states as issued by Ministries of Finance or equivalent institutions, and annual revenue of the first income decile.

← 8. According to Google Analytics as of 7 September 2018.

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