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The age of digital transformation has come and, as other technological revolutions before, it is profoundly changing models of production, communication, and socialisation. This revolution is however unprecedented in terms of breadth, depth and speed. The digital revolution is deploying and embedding technology into our lives at a faster and faster rate. As it does so, it affects the structures and operations of both private and public organisations.

Governments have little choice but to provide the necessary leadership in using data and technology to maximise the potential for improving social well-being. If they fail to do so, they risk significant policy failures or delivering outdated services that do not respond to citizen needs. To meet citizens’ current expectations and to maintain or reinforce public trust, governments must change how they operate.

This study explores the strategic questions facing the Government of Chile in its efforts to advance the digital transformation of the public sector. It provides concrete and actionable policy recommendations to help the country achieve further progress in digital government. In particular, it underscores the importance of developing a robust strategy and building the consensus needed to provide for its continuity and sustainability.

Chile is committed to making its digital ambitions a reality. The Government of Chile has engaged with the OECD Secretariat to work on the core elements that will support its transition to a digital government. The Chilean Ministry General Secretariat of the Presidency (Ministerio Secretaría General de la Presidencia, MINSEGPRES) and the Chilean Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda) have demonstrated their awareness of the sense of urgency and the vision to build a government for the 21st century. The Government of Chile has worked with the Secretariat to review and redesign the institutional and governance framework of digital government in the country and the strategic framework, which fed into the development of the new Digital Transformation Strategy. This study is the outcome of that strategic review effort.

This study concludes that Chile, while substantively ahead of regional digital government performance, must continue to strive for excellence in its transformation efforts. In particular, it should take decisive steps in building a common sense of ownership and embedding this strategic approach within the public administration to become more agile, open, and responsive in an age of digital disruption. This will be crucial in avoiding setbacks caused by inaction or changes in political leadership and securing greater and long-lasting benefits for citizens and businesses. The country’s new institutional framework, the political support and development of new resources serve as necessary underpinnings for this ambition over the longer term.

Key policy recommendations

  • Ensure operational agility of the digital government strategy through continuous engagement and feedback from key stakeholders, including subnational governments. This will help the Executive Council of State Modernisation adjust on the go, reprioritise and reallocate resources to maximise delivery and returns. Such an approach will support continuous consensus building around the strategy and its approach and long-lasting results.

  • Consider the establishment of a body for the operational co-ordination of the national Digital Transformation Strategy. This new body, composed of agency CIOs and supported by technical working groups, would focus on the technical questions requiring answers in order to achieve successful implementation of the strategy.

  • Promote the new Sistema de Evaluación Técnica de Proyectos TIC (Technical ICT Project Evaluation System) to capture and analyse increasingly granular ICT project data and secure projects’ alignment with key strategic objectives.

  • Look into the development of a digital government implementation index to benchmark public institutions and progressively lay the foundations for an impact evaluation.

  • Consider the establishment of centralised funds to finance strategic ICT projects. Competitive centralised funds provide incentives for public institutions to comply with new standards and guidelines, and to align their efforts with the government’s strategic objectives.

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy of ICT investments and procurement.

  • Develop a strategy for upskilling, reskilling and attracting new talent into digital, data and technology roles. This should include a focus on digital government, as well as considering the skills needed for public sector innovation.

  • Create a structured programme for the development of digital leadership including those outside traditional ICT related roles. This programme could aim to further the understanding of senior public sector management of digital services and their strategic implications for public organisations.

  • Review cross-government and institutional recruitment frameworks and guidelines to ensure they support the public sector’s talent development capabilities for roles where knowledge of digital, data and technology is essential. In particular, these frameworks should test candidates for relevant skills and allow the public administration to make decisions and make offers relatively quickly.

  • Consider the development of a service standard and overarching end-to-end service design and delivery principles, guides and other requirements that provide teams with a framework to implement service transformation.

  • Adopt a wide and complementary mix of user research techniques. These should include background research of existing literature and practices, quantitative and digital/data-driven approaches, ethnographies, focus groups and simple conversations with service end-users.

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy and/or policy for public sector data and its value chain, covering data governance, public sector data assets and data sharing, data security and privacy, data infrastructure, data skills, fostering demand for data-driven decision-making, prioritisation of data investments and making public sector data open by default.

  • Develop an impact assessment methodology in the medium term, for evidence-based policy-making.

  • Focus on fostering digital inclusion, through continuous modernisation of the digital infrastructure, doubling down digital literacy and making the usage of government services easy while nudging users towards digital channels.

  • Ensure collaborative approaches and shared strategies between the Laboratorio de Gobierno and the DGD.

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Executive Summary