Chapter 4. Fostering the effective implementation of open government initiatives in Argentina

This chapter provides recommendations to foster the effective implementation of open government initiatives in Argentina through a more solid and effective governance structure. It includes a discussion of horizontal co-ordination mechanisms at national level, including the recently created National Open Government Roundtable. It also analyses opportunities and challenges associated with the move of the Government Secretariat of Modernisation as the country’s leading open government actor to the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers. Finally, it discusses way to make use of human resources management as a tool to increase the impact of the national open government agenda.

    

Introduction

Countries need to build an effective governance structure to ensure successful implementation of their open government agendas.

The transversal nature of open government reforms and the need to involve different stakeholders necessitates strong institutional arrangements with appropriate co-ordination mechanisms (OECD, 2019). OECD experience shows that an adequate institutional framework for open government can facilitate the effective and efficient horizontal and vertical co-ordination of open government strategies and initiatives, and can ensure that implementation efforts “are aligned with and contribute to all relevant socio-economic objectives” (OECD, 2017a). Such a framework includes the following key elements:

  • an Open Government Steering Committee that co-ordinates the national open government agenda and involves all relevant stakeholders from government, civil society, academia and the private sector

  • a central government institution that has a clear mandate and the capacity to steer and lead the national open government agenda.

However, the impact of open government initiatives does not only rely on the creation of appropriate institutional co-ordination mechanisms. In order to become the drivers of an open government agenda, institutions also have to be assigned dedicated and well-trained human resources as well as sufficient funds (OECD, 2018a). In addition, civil servants need to be informed and aware of the benefits that a comprehensive open government strategy and related initiatives can yield. Human resources management has a key role to play in this regard.

This chapter assesses Argentina against provisions 3 and 4 of the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Open Government (Box 4.1). It provides recommendations to foster the effective implementation of open government initiatives in Argentina through the creation of more solid and effective governance structure. It discusses approaches to institutionalise and increase the inclusiveness of the recently created National Open Government Roundtable, and also highlights opportunities to strengthen the role of the country’s leading open government actor, the Government Secretariat of Modernisation (Secretaría de Gobierno de Modernización, SGM), which is now part of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers Office (Jefatura del Gabinete de Ministros, JGM). The last section examines the use of sound human resource management as a tool for more effective implementation of the country’s open government agenda.

Box ‎4.1. Provisions 3 and 4 and of the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Open Government

Provision 3: “Co-ordinate, through the necessary institutional mechanisms, open government strategies and initiatives – horizontally and vertically – across all levels of government to ensure that they are aligned with and contribute to all relevant socio-economic objectives.”

Provision 4: “Ensure the successful operationalisation and take-up of open government strategies and initiatives by:

  1. (i) providing public officials with the mandate to design and implement successful open government strategies and initiatives, as well as the adequate human, financial, and technical resources, while promoting a supportive organisational culture

  2. (ii) promoting open government literacy in the administration, at all levels of government, and among stakeholders”.

Source: OECD (2017), Recommendation of the Council on Open Government, OECD, Paris, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0438 (accessed 30 November 2018).

Improving horizontal co-ordination of open government initiatives at national level

The number of institutions involved in open government reforms necessitates extensive co-ordination.

A wide variety of actors are involved in the implementation of open government initiatives in most countries around the world. In the executive branch of the state of Argentina, the following actors can be considered the core team for open government:

  • The Government Secretariat of Modernisation in the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers is the leading national government institution. Created as the Ministry of Modernisation, it was incorporated as SGM into the JGM in 2018. It has a clear mandate to promote open government principles across the public administration and has been the leading actor in designing and implementing the OGP Action Plan.

  • The Secretariat for Institutional Strengthening in the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers was created in January 2018 and has among its objectives the co-ordination of ministerial agendas related to issues of transparency, conflict of interests and so on. It also co-ordinates the National Integrity Roundtable.

  • The Ministry of the Interior, Public Works and Housing and its Secretariat for Municipal Affairs and the Secretariat for Political Affairs are important actors in the promotion of open government principles. In particular, the ministry leads Argentina’s efforts to foster citizen and stakeholder participation (see Chapter 6 on Citizen and Stakeholder Participation). Additionally, its Secretariat for Municipal Affairs has a Municipal Training Department that provides courses on open government for public officials at the municipal level.

  • The Anti-Corruption Office (OA) works to strengthen ethics and integrity in the public administration through the prevention and investigation of corruption and the formulation of transparency policies. It also co-ordinates Argentina’s work relating to different Anti-Corruption Working Groups in the G20, the OAS and the OECD (OECD, 2019a).

However, the results of the OECD Surveys show that open government principles transcend these core institutions and already penetrate deep into the institutional landscape of Argentina. For instance, most line ministries now have either an office or a person in charge of open government (Table 4.1).

Table ‎4.1. Open Government Co-ordinators within Argentinian line ministries and secretariats

Name of ministry/secretariat

Name of office/person in charge of open government

National Institute on Youth (INJUVE)

Jefatura de Gabinete del Instituto Nacional de Juventud

Comprehensive Medical Attention Programme (INSSJP-PAMI)

Departamento de Comunicación Directa dependiente de la Gerencia de Comunicación Social

Chief of Cabinet of Ministers Office

Secretaría de Fortalecimiento Institucional

Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation

Subsecretaría de Evaluación Institucional, Dirección Nacional de Programas y Proyectos

Ministry of Culture

Dirección Nacional de Gobierno Abierto/

Ministry of Defence

Dirección General de Integridad, Transparencia y Fortalecimiento Institucional

Ministry of Justice and Human Rights

Programa Justicia Abierta

Ministry of Production

Subsecretaría de Desarrollo y Planeamiento Productivo

Ministry of Health

Unidad de Coordinación General

Ministry of Work, Employment and Social Security

Dirección de Gestión Documental

Ministry of Transport

Observatorio de Transporte, Estudios y Sistemas

Ministry of the Interior, Public Works and Housing

Unidad Ministro

Anti-Corruption Office

Subsecretaría de Integridad y Transparencia

Secretariat of Mining Policy Coordination

Dirección Nacional de Información Minera

General Office of the Comptroller

Secretaria General

Ministry of Health and Social Development

Subsecretaría de Articulación Jurídica Institucional

Note: The OECD Surveys were sent out prior to the restructuration of the Government of Argentina, which took place in the third and fourth trimester of 2018 and significantly reduced the number of ministries. Answers provided in this Review therefore reflect the composition of the government in the second trimester of 2018.

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

While the ever-increasing number of actors contributing to the promotion of open government principles is very positive and a testimony to the efforts of the Government Secretariat of Modernisation, it also creates a strong need for effective co-ordination.

The Ministry of Modernisation used the third OGP Action Plan to involve new line ministries in the open government agenda.

In many countries, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) process has served as a starting point to initiate a more holistic open government agenda. In Argentina, initiatives of relevance to open government principles existed prior to participation in the OGP. However, analysis of the institutions involved in Argentina’s three National OGP Action Plans (NAP) indicates that the institutional landscape for open government has widened in recent years. Only a handful of institutions participated in the first OGP Action Plan; this number increased to 28 public institutions by the third OGP Action Plan cycle.

Under Argentina’s previous government, the open government agenda was co-ordinated by the Undersecretariat of Management Technologies in the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Office, which also led the design process of the first NAP. As a result, the first OGP Action Plan focused heavily on commitments made by the Undersecretariat of Management Technologies (Table 4.2). Out of the 19 commitments included in the NAP, 14 were assigned to this office, while four further commitments were allocated to other entities within the Chief of the Cabinet Office. The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights was responsible for a further commitment and a last commitment gave co-responsibility to the National Institute for Statistics and Censuses. Such an emphasis on the main co-ordinating entity is typical of first-generation National Action Plans among the countries that participate in the Open Government Partnership, and reflects a desire to focus initially on quick wins that can be implemented by the actor responsible for leading the open government agenda.

Table ‎4.2. Institutions involved in the implementation of Argentina’s first OGP Action Plan (2013-2014)

Commitments

Responsible agency

Comment

1. E-Government and public services

 

 

Digital signature

Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office

 

Argentinian public software

Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

National Plan of Information Critical Infrastructures and Cybersecurity (ICIC) and Healthy Internet

Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office

 

Electronic Public Contracting System

National Contracting Office. Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office

 

Depaperisation

Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

Expansion of TIC Survey (Entic)

INDEC (National Institute of Statistics and Censuses) and Undersecretariat of Management Technologies, Chief of the Cabinet Office

Only real collaborative commitment

2. Transparency and access to public information

 

 

Creation of a Public Data portal

Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office

 

Manual of Open Government Right Procedures

Open Government Workgroup for Argentina´s Digital Agenda, Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

New Procedures Portal

National Office of Management Innovation. Undersecretariat of Management and Public Employment. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

State map

National Office of Management Innovation. Undersecretariat of Management and Public Employment. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

Plan for training representatives and those responsible for access to public information

Undersecretariat for Institutional Reform and Democracy Strengthening. Chief of the Cabinet Office

 

Data processing matrix of Decree 1172/2003

Undersecretariat for Institutional Reform and Democracy Strengthening. Chief of the Cabinet Office

 

Bill to reform the Judiciary

Ministry of Justice and Human Rights

Only institution that is not part of the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers

3. Citizen participation

 

 

Federalisation of Digital Agenda’s Working Groups

Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

Open Government National Event

Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

Public Data Hackathon

Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

Fostering of participation mechanisms under Decree 1172/03

Undersecretariat for Institutional Reform and Democracy Strengthening. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

Regulation of Law 26.653 (Web Accessibility)

Undersecretariat of Management Technologies. Chief of the Cabinet Office

 

Improvement of Plan Commitment Letter with Citizens (PCCC)

National Office of Management Innovation. Undersecretariat of Management and Public Employment. Chief of the Cabinet Office.

 

Source: Author’s own elaboration based on Government of Argentina (2013), “Argentina Action Plan – April 2013”, Open Government Partnership, Buenos Aires, www.opengovpartnership.org/countries/argentina.

Argentina’s second OGP Action Plan was more inclusive. It involved a wider variety of actors and featured a greater number of collaborative commitments (i.e. the responsibility for implementation was shared between different entities). For the first time, key line ministries such as the then Ministry of Health and the then Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries were involved in the OGP process (Table 4.3). The Plan also included more extensive civil society participation in the implementation of the commitments.

Argentina’s third OGP Action Plan is an important milestone in terms of the involvement of different actors. The Ministry of Modernisation, which led the design process, actively reached out to new actors. As a result, the NAP involves a very wide range of central government ministries, in addition to all levels of government (including 11 provinces), independent public institutions and all branches of the state. The Government Secretariat of Modernisation is responsible for the implementation of only a limited number of commitments.

The active outreach activities of the Ministry of Modernisation seem to have paid off. All line ministries indicated in their responses to the OECD Survey that they were aware of Argentina’s membership of the Open Government Partnership, including those that had no direct involvement. Moreover, evidence collected during the OECD fact-finding missions suggests that for many ministries and secretariats, involvement in the OGP process functioned as the starting point for their own open government agendas. The OGP process has thus proven to be an effective tool for the MoM to promote open government practices at the national level.

Table ‎4.3. Institutions involved in the implementation of Argentina’s Second OGP Action Plan (2015-2017)

Commitment (name and number)

Coordination of Open Government – Undersecretariat of Management Technologies – Chief of the Cabinet Office

National Administration of Public Administration, Federal Council of Public Affairs – Secretariat of the Cabinet Office – Chief of the Cabinet Office

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries

National Office of the Government Procurator for the Prison System

Argentine Mining Geological Service

National Institute of Social Associationism

National System of Public Data (SINDAP) Chief of the Cabinet Office

National Service of Rehabilitation – decentralised organisation of the National Ministry of Health

Ombudsman of the city of Buenos Aires

Ministry of Health

General Direction of Registration, Management and Documentary Archives – Undersecretariat of Coordination – Ministry of Work, Employment and Social Security

Members of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security

Ministry of Justice and Human Rights

Federal Council of the Public Affairs – Secretariat of Chief of the Cabinet Office

Authority of Matanza Riachuelo Basin

Office of Access to Public Information, General Secretariat of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA)

Ministry of Social Development

Ministry of Tourism

Ministry of Federal Planning

1. Development of state capacities in open government

 

2. Strengthening of the Public Data Portal

 

 

3. Dialogue for the formulation of public policies for persons with disabilities: health, rehabilitation and life in the community

 

 

4. Access to regulations and public policies of the Ministry of Work, Employment and Social Security: Everybody’s right

 

 

5. Open University

 

 

6. Development of new medium-term commitments

 

 

Note: The dark blue colour indicates the main entity in charge of the commitment. The light blue colour indicates that an entity is listed as “contributing” to a certain commitment in the OGP Action Plan.

Source: Author’s own elaboration based on Government of Argentina (2015), “Plan de Acción de la República Argentina 2015-2017”, Open Government Partnership, Buenos Aires, www.opengovpartnership.org/countries/argentina.

The promotion of open government practices has to be accompanied by co-ordination.

While the promotion of open government principles in any country is important, it is only the first step. Once actors are aware of the benefits of open government, initiatives need to be co-ordinated both horizontally and vertically through dedicated mechanisms. In this regard, countries face different challenges to co-ordinate open government initiatives (Figure 4.1). Challenges may relate to the mandate of the co-ordinating institution, insufficient financial resources and/or lack of incentives to co-ordinate among government institutions, among others

Figure ‎4.1. Main challenge indicated by countries in co-ordinating open government initiatives
Figure ‎4.1. Main challenge indicated by countries in co-ordinating open government initiatives

Note: Countries were asked to name their main three challenges to co-ordinating open government initiatives. This figure shows only the number one challenge listed by countries. In its response to the OECD Survey (2015), Argentina listed three main challenges to effective co-ordination of open government strategies and initiatives: 1) lack of or inadequate institutional mechanisms to collaborate with NGOs and the private sector, 2) lack of or insufficient incentives (career, financial, etc.) to co-ordinate among government institutions, and 3) lack of or insufficient human resources for the co-ordinating institution.

Source: Country responses to OECD (2015), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

Given the significant number of institutions involved in Argentina’s open government agenda, formal and informal co-ordination mechanisms are key to ensuring policy coherence and alignment with national priorities and to avoiding fragmentation. As discussed in the OECD Integrity Review of Argentina (2019a) and the OECD Digital Government Review of Argentina (2019b), co-ordination is also key to ensuring that the open government, integrity and digital government agendas proceed in the same direction and contribute jointly to common objectives.

The creation of the National Open Government Roundtable represented an important step towards better whole-of-government co-ordination.

Open government policy co-ordination at the national level can take different forms, the most common of which is the creation of an ad hoc mechanism such as an Open Government Committee. In approximately 50% of countries (34% in OECD countries), co-ordination takes place through such an ad hoc mechanism (Figure 4.2), and occurs at sector level or project level (on areas of joint responsibility between two or more institutions) in a number of other cases (OECD, 2016).

Figure ‎4.2. Mechanisms used to co-ordinate open government initiatives
Figure ‎4.2. Mechanisms used to co-ordinate open government initiatives

Source: Country responses to OECD (2015), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and

Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

The co-ordination process for Argentina’s first two OGP National Action Plans was led by the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers but lacked a space for discussion between the principal actors. The government revised this approach for the third NAP with the creation of a National Open Government Roundtable (Mesa Nacional de Gobierno Abierto). The Roundtable was composed of four government institutions and four civil society organisations (CSOs), and focused on Argentina’s OGP process.

In 2017, the Argentinian Roundtable met on four occasions. Actors interviewed during the peer-driven OECD fact-finding missions agreed that the creation of the Roundtable represented an important step towards a more co-ordinated approach to open government strategies and initiatives. However, they also saw potential for further improvement, including a more active role for the Roundtable in the monitoring and evaluation of open government initiatives.

In December 2018, following a public consultation held throughout the year in advance of the co-creation of the fourth National Action Plan (2019-2021), the government passed Resolution 132/2018 formalising the Roundtable. In addition, the government passed a set of Internal Operating Regulations (IF-2018-64927697-APN-SSIPYGA#JGM).

The new Roundtable’s objective is to “serve as an instrument for the coordination of work between the government and civil society in matters related to actions to be implemented by the Argentine Republic in the context of its participation in the Open Government Partnership and in the promotion of public policies on open government”. Following the adoption of Resolution 132/2018, the Roundtable will continue to be composed of four government institutions and four civil society organisations. The Roundtable will be presided over by the Undersecretary of Public Innovation and Open Government, who can convene three other government institutions. The following institutions participated in the first meeting of 2019:

  • the Undersecretariat of Public Innovation and Open Government (UOG), Government Secretariat of Modernisation, Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers

  • the Secretariat for Political and Institutional Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Public Works and Housing

  • the Secretariat for Institutional Strengthening, Chief of Cabinet of Ministers Office

  • the Anti-Corruption Office (ACO), Ministry of Justice and Human Rights

  • the Access to Information Agency

  • Civil Association for Equality and Justice (Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia, ACIJ)

  • Legislative Directory Foundation (Fundación Directorio Legislativo)

  • Foundation for the Study and Research of Women (Fundación para el Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer, FEIM)

  • Latin American Human Rights Center (Centro Latinoamericano de Derechos Humanos, CLADH)

  • Citizen Power (Poder Ciudadano)

  • Center for the Implementation of Public Policies for Equity and Growth (Centro de Implementación de Políticas Públicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento, CIPPEC).

Civil society organisations have established their own criteria and mechanisms for selecting participants for the Roundtable (see also Chapter 6 on Citizen and Stakeholder Participation). CSO participation is managed through the OGP Argentina space (https://ogpargentina.org). The ability of civil society to auto-select its representatives represents a good practice. The UK Open Government Network provides an interesting example of a CSO-driven mechanism for open government co-ordination (Box 4.2) which has also selected a group of individuals to act as its steering committee.

Box ‎4.2. The UK Open Government Network

The UK Open Government Network is a self-formed group of civil society organisations that are interested in working with the UK Government on Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments. The Network is co-ordinated by the British think-tank Involve and meets regularly with the Cabinet Office to co-ordinate the development and implementation of the UK’s OGP National Action Plan (NAP).

At a more senior level, the Network has selected a group of individuals to act as a steering committee for the Network, who meet with the Minister for the Cabinet Office and senior Cabinet Office officials to raise issues and agree on and drive forward priorities. In addition, the government has a number of mechanisms in place to co-ordinate input for the development of the next NAP. They have established a group consisting of representatives (from both civil society and government) who are working together on a strategy addressing specific themes and desired commitments.

The United Kingdom also has established a network of departmental leads who are responsible for co-ordinating their respective department’s input into the NAP and the ongoing implementation process. At the level of specific commitments, mechanisms are in place to bring together relevant stakeholders to agree and implement commitments around a common theme, with departments determining their own arrangements in consultation with interested civil society organisations.

Source: Country responses to OECD (2015), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

In 42% of OECD countries, local governments and the private sector are also involved in the horizontal co-ordination mechanism for open government (Figure 4.3); however, this is not the case for Argentina’s Open Government Roundtable. Some OECD countries also involve independent institutions (33% of OECD countries), academics (17%), trade unions (17%) and the judiciary branch (8%) in their co-ordination mechanisms (Figure 4.3).

Figure ‎4.3. Members of the horizontal co-ordination mechanism on open government
Figure ‎4.3. Members of the horizontal co-ordination mechanism on open government

Note: Only countries that affirmed that co-ordination occurs through the creation of an ad hoc mechanism such as an Open Government Committee were asked this question.

Source: Country responses to OECD (2015), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and

Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

The new Roundtable will be co-ordinated by an Executive Director, who is appointed by the President, the Undersecretary for Public Innovation and Open Government. According to its Internal Operating Regulations, the Roundtable will meet as many times as it considers necessary to accomplish its work on the open government agenda, with a minimum of three meetings per semester. Minutes of the meetings will be made public. The operating budget for the newly formalised Roundtable is provided by the Undersecretariat for Public Innovation and Open Government. However, the Roundtable cannot assign resources to specific projects.

The National Roundtable could be further upgraded in terms of mandate and inclusiveness to become a National Open Government Steering Committee.

The formalisation of the National Roundtable in 2018 through Resolution 132/2018 and the Internal Operating Regulations was a positive step. However, there exists further potential to broaden the mandate and enhance the inclusiveness of this body. In close collaboration with civil society, Argentina could consider upgrading the National Roundtable to a National Open Government Steering Committee (Comite Nacional de Gobierno Abierto, CNGA). This change would imply further updates to the above-mentioned Resolution and Regulations.

The CNGA could have a broader mandate that would incorporate the co-ordination of open government initiatives beyond OGP Action. Such responsibilities could include:

  • providing direction to and co-ordinating the implementation of open government strategies and initiatives in Argentina

  • providing a forum for dialogue and exchange of good practices between actors

  • leading the design and implementation of a National Open Government Strategy (see Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework)

  • leading and co-ordinating the design and implementation of the OGP Action Plans of Argentina

  • monitoring and evaluating open government strategies and initiatives, including the OGP Action Plan

  • promoting Argentina’s open government agenda nationally and internationally.

Canada’s interdepartmental Open Government Director General Committee (Box 4.3) provides an interesting example of an existing permanent co-ordination mechanism for open government.

To build support for the CNGA, the government could invite high-level representatives from institutions (e.g. Ministers, Secretaries of Government or Secretaries) to participate in the meetings. This would help ensure that the Committee provides the necessary leadership for the country’s open government agenda. Experts in specific priority areas could meet in different sub-commissions, as discussed below.

Box ‎4.3. The interdepartmental Open Government Director General Committee in Canada

In Canada, open government initiatives are co-ordinated through the interdepartmental Open Government Director General Committee. The Committee is chaired by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) and meets on a quarterly basis. This executive-level committee sets the strategic direction for open government initiatives. It acts as the overarching steering committee monitoring the implementation of open government across the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada has also established an Open Science Director Generals’ Council, a committee made up of executive-level officials, focused on providing strategic direction for open science initiatives across Science-Based Departments and Agencies (SBDAs).

In addition to these two bodies, the Multi-Stakeholder Forum supports ongoing dialogue between government and Canadian civil society on open government. Its mandate is to provide input and advice on the Government of Canada’s commitments on open government, identify new areas of focus and build the open government community across Canada.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments also collaborate on open government issues through the Canada Open Government Working Group. This group focuses on principles, standards, licensing, and outreach and engagement issues relevant to open government in Canada and thus contributes to an enabling environment for open government in Canada.

Source: Country responses to OECD (2015), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

In order to reflect the government’s broader understanding of open government, it will be important to involve other relevant actors. As in the case of the National Roundtable, the Government Secretariat of Modernisation of the JGM could chair the meetings, which should also involve the Secretariat for Institutional Strengthening of the JGM. To fully integrate the transparency and access to information agenda, seats could be reserved for the Access to Information Agency of the executive branch and the National Anti-Corruption Office. This approach would create stronger links between the open government agenda and the integrity/anti-corruption agenda. Other relevant actors from the national government could include the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and the Ministry of Finance.

As with the Roundtable, civil society organisations should be given the opportunity to select members to represent their positions in the Committee (possibly through a rotation system). In order to further broaden representation, it may also be advisable to consider participation from the private sector (e.g. through business associations), trade unions and academia. Figure 4.4 details the possible composition of a permanent National Open Government Steering Committee in Argentina.

Figure ‎4.4. Possible composition of the new National Open Government Steering Committee
Figure ‎4.4. Possible composition of the new National Open Government Steering Committee

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

The National Open Government Steering Committee could organise regular open state meetings.

In order to reflect on the ongoing move towards an open state and to create a space that allows for permanent exchange of good practices and experiences between branches of power and levels of government, Argentina could consider organising regular open state meetings within the framework of the CNGA (see also Chapter 7 on the Open State). These meetings could involve all branches of power, independent public institutions and subnational levels of government. Figure 4.5 provides an overview of possible participants in these meetings.

Figure ‎4.5. Possible composition of open state meetings
Figure ‎4.5. Possible composition of open state meetings

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

It would be advisable for open state meetings to also take place at the highest possible level in order to generate the necessary buy-in for reforms. Follow-up at expert level could then take place in a sub-commission dedicated to open state matters. Colombia’s and Costa Rica’s Open State Committees, which are discussed in Chapter 7 on the Open State, provide interesting examples of ways to ensure political commitment for the open government agenda across branches of power and levels of government.

Argentina could create sub-commissions of the CNGA to focus on specific priority areas.

Sub-commissions of the CNGA could be charged with following up on high-level commitments and translating the common vision into concrete actions. They could also allow for discussions at an expert/technical level. The sub-commissions would actively engage with the Open Government Contact Points proposed below, and provide them with a space for policy exchange and dialogue while working on concrete agendas of relevance to their institutions.

Sub-commissions could be created for thematic areas such as Access to Information, Open Government and Education, and the Sustainable Development Goals. They could also be established for specific processes such as OGP Action Plans or legal changes (e.g. a possible overarching document on stakeholder participation, as discussed in Chapter 6 on Citizen and Stakeholder Participation). Italy’s Open Government Forum, which has six working groups for specific thematic areas of open government, could provide inspiration in this regard (Box 4.4).

Box ‎4.4. Italy’s Forum on Open Government

Italy has established a Forum on Open Government in which 20 public administrations and 54 civil society organizations meet regularly. The Forum, co-ordinated by the Department of Public Administration of the Presidency of Council of Ministers, is open to any new organisation or administration, both central and local, which wants to participate in the development of open government policies or that intends to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) process. The aim of the Forum on Open Government is to commit civil society organisations (CSOs) and public administrations to a long-term collaboration centred around co-designing the development and co-ordination process for implementing actions detailed in Italy’s OGP National Action Plan. The Minster of Public Administration attends the Forum on a regular basis every six months. The Forum has clustered the thematic areas of open government into six groups: “Transparency”, “Open Data”, “Participation”, “Accountability”, “Digital Citizenship” and “Innovation and Digital skills”. Each of these areas is the focus of a separate Working Group established by the Department of Public Administration, and all are open to Forum participants.

In this way, the Department has created a direct channel between public administrations and civil society organisations, enabling them to have regular meetings (every two to three months) and communicate online. The aim is to give the officials responsible for open government commitments (i.e. actions stipulated in the NAP) the possibility to consult with CSOs about specific questions and obtain their feedback. Additionally, CSOs can monitor the implementation of commitments and provide input and ideas on the development of new open government initiatives.

Source: Italy Open Government (n.d.), Open Government Forum, http://open.gov.it/open-governmentpartnership/ open-government-forum (accessed 25 November 2016).

The CNGA would be the ideal space to co-create a National Open Government Strategy.

As discussed in detail in Chapter 2 on the Policy Framework, a whole-of-government National Open Government Strategy will only change a country’s culture of governance if it has the support of the widest possible range of actors. Therefore, a formal National Open Government Steering Committee and its sub-commission involving all key institutions would be the ideal space to co-create such a strategic vision for open government with all stakeholders.

The open state meetings of the National Open Government Steering Committee could provide the platform for efforts to involve other branches of power and independent public institutions. Once co-created, these actors could voluntarily commit to adhering to the strategy and develop their own independent strategies based on a common vision.

The Committee’s agenda would need to be co-ordinated with the agendas of existing Roundtables on Integrity and Administrative Reform.

At the national level several Roundtables exist that also have competencies in areas of relevance for open government principles. The most important is the Roundtable on Integrity (Mesa de Integridad), which was created in 2017 to improve the co-ordination of Argentina’s integrity system (OECD, 2019a).

The OECD Integrity Review of Argentina (Ibid.) proposes to merge the Integrity Roundtable with the Roundtable of Administrative Reform (Mesa de Reforma Administrativa), as well as with the existing Roundtable on Governance of State-Owned Enterprises, in order to create a new Commission on Integrity and Transparency in the national executive branch. Should Argentina move forward with this recommendation, it will be important to link the work of the proposed National Open Government Steering Committee with the agenda of the new Commission on Integrity and Transparency.

Co-ordination will benefit from the fact that several of the actors participating in the National Open Government Steering Committee will also be involved in the Integrity and Transparency Commission. The Government Secretariat of Modernisation, as the co-ordinator of the National Open Government Steering Committee, will be responsible for aligning agendas between the different centres of co-ordination (see Figure 7.11 in Chapter 7 on the Open State for a detailed overview of a possible institutional framework for open government and the open state in Argentina).

Strengthening the role of the Government Secretariat of Modernisation as the leading national open government actor

Successful implementation of a national open government agenda requires strong institutional leadership and political commitment.

In any country, the transformation of commitments to foster open government principles into concrete tangible results needs institutional leadership. Co-ordination and co-operation would also benefit from the clear identification and empowerment of a national leader of the open government agenda. Open government reforms require strong political commitment (from the highest level) since they cover several policy areas and often meet with resistance to change and internal and external opposition.

According to the results of the 2015 OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, most countries (85% overall and 77% in OECD countries) – and all participating countries from Latin America and the Caribbean – have a government office responsible for the horizontal co-ordination of open government initiatives (Figure 4.6). For the majority of respondent countries (58% and 70% in OECD countries), these offices were located in an existing institution that had added open government to its portfolio in the recent past. About 20% of countries (19% in OECD countries) had created a new, separate unit within an existing institution to address open government-related matters (OECD, 2016).

Figure ‎4.6. Existence of a dedicated office responsible for the horizontal co-ordination of open government initiatives
Figure ‎4.6. Existence of a dedicated office responsible for the horizontal co-ordination of open government initiatives

Source: Country responses to OECD (2015), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

The incorporation of the then Ministry of Modernisation into the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers creates new opportunities to foster co-ordination.

The Government Secretariat of Modernisation (SGM) is Argentina’s leading open government actor at the national level. It was created by the current government on 10 December 2015 (Decree 438/92) in an effort to reform and modernise Argentina’s public sector. Following the September 2018 government reform, the then Ministry of Modernisation was incorporated into the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers (Decree 2018-802-APN-PTE). The new Government Secretariat of Modernisation, headed by the Secretary of Government for Modernisation and Deputy Chief of Cabinet, thus became part of the most important centre of government institution in the country.

In OECD terminology, “centre of government” (CoG) refers to the group of institutions or units that serve the head of government (President or Prime Minister) and the Council of Ministers (OECD, 2014). OECD experience shows that situating the responsibility for open government within a CoG institution can have several advantages (Box 4.5).

Box ‎4.5. Advantages of situating open government within the centre of government
  • The centre of government (CoG) can facilitate the link between open government strategies and initiatives and broader national objectives, including development objectives such as achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

  • The CoG can connect open government initiatives across government (including different sectors, levels of government and non-state actors) in order to foster a shared vision.

  • The CoG can also promote good practices in the area of open government – as well as institutional champions – across government and among citizens.

  • The CoG can strengthen the strategic use of performance data across the public sector, in order to support monitoring and evaluation of the impacts of open government strategies and initiatives (OECD, 2015b).

Source: Adapted from OECD (2016), Open Government: The Global Context and the Way Forward, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264268104-en.

Among the majority of countries that contributed to the OECD Report on Open Government (OECD, 2016), the responsibility for open government was situated in the CoG. In most countries, the office was anchored inside the Office of the Head of Government or the Cabinet Office/Chancellery/Council of Ministers (64% of all respondent countries and 62% of OECD countries).

Figure ‎4.7. Institutional anchorage of the Open Government Office
Figure ‎4.7. Institutional anchorage of the Open Government Office

Source: Country responses to OECD (2015), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

While the then Ministry of Modernisation was not a centre of government actor prior to the recent reform of the national public administration, most of its competencies were transversal by nature and therefore required extensive co-ordination and active outreach and communication. The Ministry became an effective and efficient co-ordinator largely due to the high level of political commitment from the Minister of Modernisation, the support of the President and the efforts of its staff. The fact that the MoM was a line ministry meant that it had to rely on soft means to convince actors of the benefits of public governance and open government reforms in order to actively involve them in its agenda. As a CoG institution, the Government Secretariat of Modernisation (SGM) will now have the opportunity to promote even more horizontality and inclusiveness of Argentina’s open government agenda and to reach out to an even wider variety of actors.

The Undersecretariat for Open Government and Public Innovation (UOG), which leads the country’s open government agenda (see below), now has more direct access to the Chief of Staff and the President (Figure 4.8). The benefits of the new structure will depend on the extent to which the senior leadership of the SGM and the head of the UOG, in particular, manage to leverage direct access to the highest levels of government to mainstream and broaden their agenda.

Figure ‎4.8. The new structure of the Government Secretariat of Modernisation
Figure ‎4.8. The new structure of the Government Secretariat of Modernisation

Note: This figure presents only a part of the full organigram of the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers.

Source: Government of Argentina (2018b), Mapa del Estado, Buenos Aires, https://mapadelestado.jefatura.gob.ar/organigramas/jgm.pdf (accessed 11 December 2018).

In its new institutional setting, the Government Secretariat of Modernisation will also have to co-ordinate its agenda closely with the Secretariat of Institutional Strengthening of the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers (JGM), which co-ordinates the national integrity agenda. In addition to existing co-ordination mechanisms within the JGM, this co-ordination can take place through mechanisms such as the CNGA or a newly created Commission for Integrity and Transparency (see above).

The Undersecretariat for Public Innovation and Open Government has a clear mandate to promote open government reforms across the whole of government.

Between 2015 and 2018, the then MoM became a powerful actor in Argentinian politics. It had competencies in a number of areas that in many OECD countries are managed by a variety of institutions, including regulatory policy, digital government, innovation, human resources management of the state and, of course, open government. The creation of this super-ministry for public governance reform sent a strong message regarding the importance assigned to reforming the public administration in the agenda of the current government.

While the government reform of September 2018 changed the institutional anchorage of the ministry, its internal structure was not affected. Within the SGM, the Undersecretariat for Open Government and Public Innovation (UOG) is the entity in charge of the country’s open government agenda. The Undersecretary that heads the UOG is a political appointee. He/she does not have the rank of a Secretary but reports directly to the Government Secretary of Modernisation and National Deputy Chief of Cabinet (Figure ‎4.8). This level of hierarchy is comparable to most countries that participated in the 2015 OECD Survey where the horizontal co-ordination office was either at the level of a Secretary-General/Director-General (43%) or at director level (30%) (Figure 4.9). The high level of institutional anchorage for open government has benefitted the promotion of an ambitious open government agenda in Argentina, as it gave political clout to the office holder.

Figure ‎4.9. Hierarchical level of the horizontal co-ordination office
Figure ‎4.9. Hierarchical level of the horizontal co-ordination office

Source: Country responses to OECD (2015), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

In line with Presidential Decree 174/2018 and the Administrative Decision of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers 297/2018, the Undersecretariat has a broad range of responsibilities:

  • Lead (“comprender”) the development and co-ordination of policies promoting openness and innovation as design principles applicable to the policy cycle in the National Public Sector.

  • Assist the Minister with the development of a National Open Government, within the framework of the agenda of modernisation and transformation of the National Public Sector.

  • Develop and co-ordinate policies, regulatory frameworks and technological platforms necessary for the management of public information as a strategic asset for the development of evidence-based public policies, products and services .

  • Lead the design, planning and execution of a strategy to open data and public information in the National Public Sector.

  • Lead the co-ordination of a “Government Laboratory” as a space to promote, articulate and promote the management of innovation, accelerating the development of policies and services focused on citizens, promoting the linking of public bodies through an ecosystem of open innovation, and fostering the building of new capacities, competencies and skills in the state.

  • Be responsible for the design and monitoring of the National Open Government Action Plan, within the framework of participation in the Open Government Partnership.

  • Promote the realisation of bilateral, multilateral and interjurisdictional agreements that favour open government in the national, provincial and municipal Public Sector, in co-ordination with the competent organisms.

  • Develop and co-ordinate the policies, regulatory frameworks and technological platforms necessary to promote citizen participation and innovation in the process of formulating public policies.

  • Develop an evaluation culture and implement results-based management methodologies in the National Public Sector, in co-ordination with the competent areas.

  • Promote the creation of a public innovation and open government network at national level, generating collaborative workspaces, exchanges and training in co-operation with the national, provincial and municipal public sector, the private sector, academia and civil society organisations.

The UOG’s responsibilities include leading the Open Government Partnership process; however, they also explicitly provide a mandate to venture beyond the OGP Action Plans. This includes the development of a National Open Government Strategy and the promotion of open government at provincial and municipal level. The responsibilities of the UOG align with those of other co-ordinating offices in OECD countries and beyond. More than 90% of co-ordinating offices in countries that participated in the OECD Survey (2015) were responsible for co-ordinating open government initiatives and more than 80% monitored implementation. Furthermore, in 80% of countries the office is also in charge of developing the national open government strategy, while only a small number of offices (less than 20%) assign financial resources. This is also the case in Argentina.

Figure ‎4.10. Responsibilities of the office in charge of countries’ open government agendas
Figure ‎4.10. Responsibilities of the office in charge of countries’ open government agendas

Source: Country responses to OECD (2015), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

The Undersecretariat itself consists of a variety of units. It has two National Directorates (Data and Public Information as well as Public Innovation) as well as five dependent Directorates (three of which report directly to the Undersecretary, including the Directorate for Open Government). Research and interviews conducted during OECD fact-finding missions revealed that the Undersecretariat has significant human and financial resources and a young and dynamic team consisting of approximately 50 people.

Figure ‎4.11. Units within the Undersecretariat of Public Innovation and Open Government
Figure ‎4.11. Units within the Undersecretariat of Public Innovation and Open Government

Source: Government of Argentina (2018b), Mapa del Estado, Buenos Aires, https://mapadelestado.jefatura.gob.ar/organigramas/jgm.pdf (accessed 11 December 2018).

SGM leadership in the area of open government is recognised, but there is a need to institutionalise frameworks to guarantee continuity.

Within the space of three years – and with the support of the President – Argentina found itself at the forefront of the international open government community. This achievement is a result of the Ministry of Modernisation’s success in attaining membership of the OGP Steering Committee and improving the country’s international rankings on the Transparency International Anti-Corruption Index and the Open Data Index, among others. At the national level, the Ministry’s dedicated staff designed and implemented a multitude of open government initiatives; reached out to new ministries, local levels of government and other branches of the state; and led an exemplary design process for the country’s third NAP. Responses from interviews conducted during the OECD’s peer-driven fact-finding missions, and the results of the OECD Surveys, show that ministries, provinces and institutions from other branches of power clearly recognise the MoM’s leadership in the area of open government and reveal a general willingness to co-operate with the Ministry.

Collaboration and co-operation between institutions in the initial stages is often driven by personal relationships rather than institutionalised frameworks. In many countries, people in the open government community know each other and have worked together for many years to promote open government principles, long before the appearance of the term “open government” and the establishment of the Open Government Partnership.

The Government Secretariat of Modernisation and the UOG are staffed with experts in the areas of open government, open data and public sector innovation, many of whom acquired ample experience working on these topics in the administration of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, when President Macri was Mayor of the City. When they became part of the national government in 2016, they imbued the national open government agenda with fresh energy and enthusiasm. Such existing connections have at times resulted in a very fluid exchange between these actors. In particular, this informal network of contacts proved beneficial in launching the national open government agenda, as stressed in the OECD Digital Government Review of Argentina (2019b); however, it is now important to institutionalise open government frameworks in Argentina to reduce their dependency on personal networks and guarantee continuity over the medium and long term.

Argentina could create Open Government Contact Points.

In interviews, the SGM recognised that it faced a major challenge in identifying its counterparts in line ministries, as different people often work on open government in each entity. The then MoM had previously created contact points in different entities as part of the process to design and implement the OGP Action Plan. However, these contact points mostly oversaw implementation of the NAP commitment(s) made by their entity and were not tasked with promoting open government within their institutions.

Evidence gathered in OECD countries underlines the benefits of creating dedicated institutional Open Government Contact Points in line ministries – at all levels of government and branches of power – as a means of translating an existing high-level vision into institutional realities in each individual entity and for every individual civil servant. Open Government Contact Points (Enlaces de Gobierno Abierto, EGA) could ensure the implementation of laws and policies relevant to open government principles, while at the same time providing individual and personalised support to the public servants in their institution. The Contact Points would also be responsible for translating the work done in the National Open Government Steering Committee into institutional realities. In an ideal scenario, the Contact Points would be the heads of the open government offices (where these exist) in the respective institutions. Costa Rica’s Enlaces Interinstitucionales and Canada’s Departmental Open Government Co-ordinators provide interesting examples of existing Open Government Contact Points (Box 4.6).

Box ‎4.6. Canada’s departmental open government co-ordinators and Costa Rica’s open government contact points

Canada

In Canada, every governmental department has identified an open government co-ordinator. These individuals function as the entry point into the department for the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) – the main co-ordinating entity responsible for setting government-wide direction on open government – for all matters related to open government.

Open government co-ordinators:

  • facilitate open government activities throughout their organisation

  • assist content owners within the organisation with the process to release data (e.g. identification, preparation, approval mechanisms and entry into the Open Government Registry)

  • provide recommendations to the senior official responsible for approving the data release

  • provide assistance to clients within the organisation requesting information via open.canada.ca

  • provide relevant training in the organisation, where possible

  • participate in open government working groups, led by the Treasury Board Secretariat, where they share best practices and challenges related to open government.

Open government co-ordinators are typically appointed at the director level and below, and convene on a monthly basis through working group meetings co-ordinated by the Treasury Board Secretariat. TBS is also planning to create an online “co-ordinators corner” where co-ordinators can more easily interact if they wish.

Costa Rica

The Enlaces interinstitucionales (i.e. open government contact points), established to facilitate the design and implementation of the Second Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan, represent an important first step in ensuring inter-institutional co-ordination. The Enlaces initiative was launched by the centre of government in Costa Rica, and comprises contact points for the Deputy Ministry of the Presidency (the main office responsible for open government initiatives in the country), the different central government ministries, decentralised institutions, some municipalities, the Ombudsman, the judiciary and so on.

The government aims to create at least one Enlace in each institution to help implement its open government agenda. The Enlaces meet regularly and benefit from capacity-building co-operation from the OGP Support Unit. While they do not formally report to the Deputy Ministry of the Presidency, the Enlaces voluntarily collaborate with this office and have the potential to provide the CoG with an effective co-ordination tool, both horizontally and vertically.

Source: OECD (2016), Open Government: The Global Context and the Way Forward, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264268104-en.

Once established, the Government Secretariat of Modernisation could play an active role in maintaining and animating an informal Network of Open Government Contact Points (Figure 4.12). In addition to inviting selected EGAs to the sub-commissions of the CNGA, the SGM could organise regular meetings between Contact Points to exchange experience and provide training and capacity-building support in specific priority areas to groups of Contact Points (e.g. within the framework of events such as Argentina Abierta). Given the high number of Contact Points, the SGM could also provide the Network with an online platform to foster peer-to-peer dialogue and learning.

Figure ‎4.12. Open Government Contact Points in all ministries, branches and levels of government
Figure ‎4.12. Open Government Contact Points in all ministries, branches and levels of government

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

In order to create specific EGAs, it will be important to capitalise, build on and involve the following Contact Points in other relevant areas (Figure 4.13):

  • informal open data focal points that have started to emerge in response to Decree 117/2016, which establishes Open Data Plans

  • the Network of Contact Points for Access to Public Information managed by the Ministry of the Interior, which has 102 contact points in all ministries and most decentralised entities (OECD, 2019c)

  • a possible future network of Integrity Contact Points (Enlaces de Integridad), as suggested in the OECD Integrity Review (2019a).

In some cases, the dedicated EGA may be simultaneously the Open Data, Access to Public Information or Integrity Contact Point of their institution. This should be viewed as an opportunity to align agendas and ensure that all efforts to promote open government principles converge in the same direction. Rather than duplicating the functions of existing contact points, the EGAs would reinforce their agendas and provide them with an additional platform to promote their objectives. Along the same lines, the newly established Network of Open Government Contact Points could function as an umbrella network involving, at times, the Open Data, Access to Public Information and Integrity focal points (Figure 4.13).

Figure ‎4.13. The role of the Network of Open Government Contact Points
Figure ‎4.13. The role of the Network of Open Government Contact Points

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

Implementing open government beyond the Government Secretariat of Modernisation through human resource management and innovation

Box ‎4.7. Provision 3 of the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Open Government

“Ensure the successful operationalisation and take-up of open government strategies and initiatives” by:

  1. i. Providing public officials with the mandate to design and implement successful open government strategies and initiatives, as well as the adequate human, financial and technical resources, while promoting a supportive organisational culture

  2. ii. Promoting open government literacy in the administration, at all levels of government, and among stakeholders”.

Source: OECD (2017), Recommendation of the Council on Open Government, OECD, Paris, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0438 (accessed 30 November 2018).

The Government Secretariat of Modernisation recognises the importance of human resource management as an enabler of open government reforms.

The draft OECD Recommendation on Public Service Leadership and Capability underlines the importance of skills to transform political visions into high-quality services that improve citizens’ lives (OECD, 2018). The 2017 OECD Report, Skills for a High Performing Civil Service, introduced a framework for skills needed by today’s civil servants. One of the four pillars of this framework focuses on service delivery and citizen engagement. Accordingly, the Report argues that “civil servants work directly with citizens and users of government services. New skills are required for civil servants to effectively engage citizens, crowdsource ideas and co-create better services” (OECD, 2017b, p. 9).

Box ‎4.8. Skills needed for citizen engagement and service delivery

Employees involved in service management, design and/or policy making require skillsets that encourage input from citizens into these processes. While service delivery, communication, consultation and engagement have long been recognised as desired competencies for public officials, three trends are altering the demand for skills:

  • Many countries now have an increasingly complex service delivery landscape.

  • Technological change is resulting in new channels and tools for engagement.

  • The push for more open and innovative government means that civil services are expected to incorporate meaningful input and participation at a greater number of stages of the policy/service design process.

The 2017 OECD Report, Skills for a High Performing Civil Service, summarises the skills needed as:

  • Professional:

    • Traditional building blocks of service and engagement skills including professionals with expertise in public relations, communications, marketing, consultation, facilitation, service delivery, conflict resolution, community development, outreach, etc.

  • Strategic:

    • The use of engagement skills to achieve specific outcomes to inform, for example, better targeted interventions, or nudge public behaviour towards desirable outcomes, such as healthier eating habits or smoking reduction.

  • Innovative:

    • The application of innovation skills to engagement to expand and redesign the tools themselves through, for example, co-creation, prototyping, social media, crowdsourcing, challenge prizes, ethnography, opinion research and data, branding, behavioural insights/nudging, digital service environments and user data analytics.

Source: OECD (2017), Skills for a High Performing Civil Service, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264280724-en.

The Government Secretariat of Modernisation (SGM) has taken a number of steps to provide tailored capacity-building opportunities for public servants. The Secretariat of Public Employment, a body located in the SGM responsible for skills development programmes, has launched initiatives targeting different groups of public officials. These programmes include Líderes en Acción, which is designed to build the capacities of young officials, Protagonistas de Recursos Humanos, which addresses HRM officials, and Construyendo Nuestro Futuro, which targets high-level public managers (Government of Argentina, n.d.; 2017; OECD, 2018). As in other OECD countries, staff turnover caused by political transitions can affect the Government of Argentina, especially among high-ranking officials (including individuals that previously received training). This is particularly relevant in the context of Argentina, as staff turnover during changes in government affects not only senior civil servants but also staff members in charge of the technical implementation of (open government) reforms.

The Digital Government Review of Argentina found that: “during the peer review mission to Buenos Aires (March, 2018) public officials expressed that roughly 75% of ICT professionals stay less than 2 years in the public sector, and in general terms lack formal tertiary education (e.g. university-level degrees)” (OECD, 2018, p. 17). These challenges can have implications for many public officials, including those in charge of the open government agenda in the country.

The Government Secretariat of Modernisation clearly recognises the importance of human resource management (HRM) as an enable of open government reforms. For instance, the Secretariat included HRM as one of the five focal areas of the third OGP Action Plan, which seeks to build a “21st century government” (Government Secretariat of Modernisation, 2017). The Undersecretariat of Open Government (UOG) in the SGM has a highly skilled and dedicated young team with about half a dozen staff members working solely on open government, while other teams cover related areas (including digital government and innovation). The various teams work closely together under two Undersecretaries responsible for Public Innovation and Open Government, and Digital Government. The size of the team in Argentina thus exceeds that of open government units in most OECD countries, and its significant capacity provides a favourable basis for the successful implementation of open government reforms at central level.

Human resource-related open government reforms represent a challenge for line ministries and provinces.

The OECD Surveys asked ministries and provinces of Argentina about the challenges they faced in implementing stakeholder participation initiatives. Insufficient human resources was among the most frequently cited challenges in 60% of provinces and 63% of line ministries (Figure 4.14). These findings hint at the strong contrast between the human resources available in the SGM and those in line ministries and at the provincial level. This contrast was also noted during interviews conducted with representatives from line ministries for this Review, which confirmed that the size of the teams devoted to implementing open government initiatives was limited.

The OECD Surveys also asked ministries and provinces about HRM-related challenges they faced in building effective stakeholder participation. The most frequently cited obstacle was insufficient awareness among public officials of the value added of stakeholder participation in line ministries (78%) and provinces (87%) (Figure 4.14). This factor was also noted as the second most pressing challenge on average by provinces (weighted vis-à-vis other challenges).

Figure ‎4.14. Different HRM-related challenges for effective stakeholder participation at sector level and the provinces
Figure ‎4.14. Different HRM-related challenges for effective stakeholder participation at sector level and the provinces

Note: Provinces and ministries were asked to list the five main challenges they faced in implementing stakeholder participation and to rank them accordingly. The figure reflects the frequency of the challenge chosen, but does not reflect the ranking.

Source: Responses to OECD (2018), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

As 38% of line ministries and 40% of provinces acknowledge, current requirements for public officials to implement stakeholder participation initiatives are insufficient. Around half of ministries (46%) and provinces (47%) also noted the absence of incentives for effective stakeholder participation as a challenge, as discussed in more detail in Chapter 5 on Citizen and Stakeholder Participation.

Argentina could include open government-related skills in competency frameworks for public servants.

A majority of OECD countries include open government principles in values frameworks (57%) (OECD, 2016). However, only 23% include these principles in competency frameworks, performance agreements and/or accountability frameworks (ibid.). In Argentina, at the sector level, only the Ministry of Work, Employment and Social Security and the National Auditing Commission (Sindicatura General de la Nación) include specific skills on open government into the terms of reference (ToRs) of institutional public servants, according to the OECD Survey data. At the provincial level, a similarly low share (Salta, Neuquén, Catamarca and Córdoba) incorporate these skills into ToRs. In order to best equip the public service with the necessary skills to promote a supportive organisational culture, the Government of Argentina could include skills related to open government in public servants’ ToRs and advocate for provinces to follow this example.

Initiatives created by the National Institute for Public Administration and the Design Academy of Public Policy are at the core of Argentina’s move towards an open government culture.

Capacities related to open government principles needs to be developed in the early stages of public officials’ careers. As with 51% of schools of public administration in OECD countries, Argentina’s National Institute for Public Administration (INAP) offers courses with a special focus on open government, designed for staff working in the field of public administration (INAP, 2018). In particular, INAP offers a course dedicated solely to open government that lasts three weeks (32 hours). Other courses related to open government principles include “Public Innovation and Open Government”, “Basic Aspects for Public Innovation”, “Introduction to the Modernisation of the State” and “Management of Citizen Participation in Public Policies” (INAP, 2018).

The SGM’s Government Lab of Argentina (LABgobar) is a multi-disciplinary team located in the Undersecretariat of Public Innovation and Open Government. The Lab provides assistance with ministerial and municipality-led projects that aim to make use of tools to innovate. As the open government and innovation agendas are closely linked, innovation labs are found not only at the central level but also in the provinces. For example, the Province of Neuquén has established a noteworthy innovation lab, which is described in more detail in Box 4.9.

Box ‎4.9. The Province of Neuquén’s Innovation Lab

The government of the Province of Neuquén in Argentina created a Public Policy Innovation Lab (Nqn Lab) in 2017. The Lab is defined as a space of co-creation and collaboration for public innovation. In practice, the Nqn Lab facilitates the creation of participatory spaces where the public sector and civil society can meet to develop and/or improve projects and initiatives from an experimental and interdisciplinary perspective. For example, Nqn Lab facilitated the planning of the participative budget process in the municipality of Andacollo. The process involved more than 50 participants from civil society organisation (CSOs), academia and the public sector, who gathered to collectively conceptualise and plan the project, including the underlying methodology and follow-up. Another Nqn Lab initiative is the Forum for Young People in the municipality of San Martín de los Andes, where young people from different sectors (CSOs, clubs, schools, bands and churches) participated in a workshop to collectively identify the main challenges their community faced.

The innovative approach of the Nqn Lab is underpinned by the overarching objective of the Ministry of Citizens: to strengthen and promote participative spaces and tools for citizens to solve social challenges. To this end, the Nqn Lab acts as the innovative branch of the Ministry by facilitating the creation of participatory spaces and providing the methodology necessary to succeed. This approach is beneficial for citizens, as it allows them to participate more closely in policy making within their communities, as well as for municipalities, which may not necessarily have the resources or skills to undertake these activities on their own.

Source: Province of Neuquén (2017), Diversidad de miradas, creación colectiva: Comenzó a rodar Nqn Lab, http://ciudadanianqn.com.ar/noticia.php?noticia=582 (accessed 14 January 2019).

Neuquén Informa (2018), Primer Laboratorio de Innovación Joven en San Martín de los Andes, www.neuqueninforma.gob.ar/primer-laboratorio-de-innovacion-joven-en-san-martin-de-los-andes (accessed 14 January 2019).

In close collaboration with INAP and LABgobar, the Government Secretariat of Modernisation’s Directorate for the Development of Capacities for Innovation (Dirección de Desarrollo de Capacidades para la Innovación) established a Design Academy of Public Policy in 2016. The Academy offers training courses to public officials on innovation, which aim to “create the state of the future” (INAP, et al., n.d.). The courses place great emphasis on the skills needed to build an agile public administration, such as “participatory leadership, applying a holistic perspective, or approaches to initiate cultural change” (INAP, et al., n.d.), among others. The courses are aligned with the OECD’s beta skills model for public sector innovation, which is based around core skills areas and follows the paradigm of serving and collaborating with citizens (OECD, 2017b; Figure 4.15).

Figure ‎4.15. Six core skills areas for public sector innovation
Figure ‎4.15. Six core skills areas for public sector innovation

Source: OECD (2017b), Skills for a High Performing Civil Service, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264280724-en.

The creation of the Academy represents an opportunity to address a number of challenges identified in this Review, including building closer collaboration and co-operation at all levels of and across government. In terms of the motivation for the Academy’s establishment, UOG explained that “(i)n a country where systems, data and civil servants work in siloes; where every ministry works alone, it was clear to us that this could be a project that could accelerate transformation” (Beun, 2018). Initiating a change in the culture of governance towards greater openness is a process that requires time and buy-in from public servants. The Academy is an important step in initiating this change.

The Design Academy of Public Policy could create (in-) formal networks to continue training alumni and inform them about available courses.

The Design Academy of Public Policy has proven very successful in terms of outreach, having taught 32,000 students until March 2019 (Beun, 2018). The Academy works to fulfil provision 3 of the OECD Recommendation on Open Government, which advocates for the provision of open government literacy at all levels of government. To this end, it has provided training courses to 140 municipalities and all 23 provincial governments in Argentina (Beun, 2018), which is also noteworthy in terms of the move towards an open state.

The Design Academy of Public Policy is a remarkable example of how to stipulate and encourage innovation and open government initiatives that do not originate in the central institution in charge of open government, but rather in line ministries and at all levels of government. The number of public servants trained over a short period of time demonstrate that the capacity to transform each of the participants into “agents of change”. Such “agents” can then advocate for more innovative and citizen-centred approaches when designing and implementing policies. Since institutions such as INAP and the Design Academy of Public Policy cannot teach all public servants, the sustainability and diffusion of the content taught depends on the course alumni. Their ability to pass on the skills and knowledge they have obtained can help to transmit the cultural change to their teams.

The Academy could thus place particular emphasis on creating (in-) formal forums and networks consisting of public servants that have taken the courses and are willing to pass on their knowledge to others. Such forums or networks could, moreover, help to further enhance the quality of courses by incorporating feedback from civil servants on the topics taught.

The Government of Argentina could widen the focus from an innovation-driven training agenda to more holistic open government literacy.

The number of public servants trained and the numerous ministries that have either started implementing their own measures to train public servants on open government or made use of the offers by INAP or the Design Academy of Public Policy are remarkable. The variety of courses on offer in the Academy, ranging from design thinking to the use of evidence and artificial intelligence, play an important role in further enhancing the capacity for public officials. However, the Academy’s training agenda seems to be determined largely by innovation. Additional courses presenting a stronger alignment with open government provinces could bring the Argentinian government closer to the declared goal of a “state of the 21st century”.

Concretely, these courses could be designed to advance policy makers’ understanding of the benefits of applying the open government principles of transparency, accountability, integrity and stakeholder participation in the policy cycles of their respective areas of work. The content of the courses could be adapted accordingly and targeted to the respective public officials to determine priority areas for the training courses. Whereas training courses on considering and ensuring transparency throughout the policy cycle would be more pressing for public servants working in the extractive industry sector in Argentina, policy makers working in the area of security could also be trained on how to further enhance accountability in their daily tasks. This needs-based course offer – which has already been implemented on specific occasions – could help to raise awareness among public servants of the specific targets and objectives of open government. Concretely, the courses could make the case for the economic, political and social benefits of mainstreaming open government in policy making in all policy areas, including environment, health and education, among others.

Eventually, concrete provisions on training could be included in the recommended National Open Government Strategy or the overarching document on stakeholder participation (see Chapter 6 on Citizen and Stakeholder Participation). Explicit provisions dedicated to enhancing civil servants’ skills to respect and implement open government principles could, for example, outline approaches to raise awareness of the existence of training courses and their added value. This would, moreover, benefit efforts to move from ad hoc enrolment in courses offered by INAP and the Design Academy of Public Policy, to a more structured approach to a supportive organisational culture of open government reforms that benefits all stakeholders.

Recommendations

Improving the horizontal co-ordination of open government strategies and initiatives at national level

  • Upgrade the mandate and inclusiveness of the National Open Government Roundtable and create a National Open Government Steering Committee (CNGA) in order to provide a forum to co-ordinate the country’s entire open government agenda.

  • Extend the CNGA’s mandate to go beyond co-ordination of the OGP process.

  • Invite high-level representatives from institutions to join the Committee in order to ensure that it can provide the necessary leadership to the country’s open government agenda.

  • Reserve a seat for the Access to Information Agency of the executive branch and a seat for the National Anticorruption Office, in order to fully integrate the open government, anti-corruption and transparency agendas.

  • Consider involving the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and the Ministry of Finance in the CNGA.

  • Organise regular open state meetings within the framework of the CNGA, in order to create a space that allows for the permanent exchange of good practices and experience between branches of power and levels of government.

  • Create sub-commissions of the CNGA to allow for discussions at a more technical level and to translate a commonly agreed vision and shared objectives into concrete actions and initiatives (see also ‎Chapter 2. on the Policy Framework).

Strengthening the role of the Government Secretariat of Modernisation as the leading national open government actor

  • Take advantage of the new institutional anchorage of the Government Secretariat of Modernisation in the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers, the country’s main Centre of Government institution, to foster co-ordination and mainstream open government principles.

  • Ensure effective co-ordination between the Government Secretariat of Modernisation and the Secretariat of Institutional Strengthening of the Office of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers.

  • Create dedicated institutional Open Government Contact Points in all public institutions and branches of power, and at all levels of government, in order to enable a continuous exchange of experiences and good practices.

  • Build capacity for Contact Points to enable them to provide individual and personalised support to public servants in their institutions.

  • Capitalise on and foster synergies with existing networks such as the Open Data Focal Points and the Network of Contact Points for Access to Public Information.

  • Invite selected contact points to meetings of the National Open Government Steering Committee and its sub-commissions.

  • Provide the Network of Open Government contact points with an (online) platform to foster peer-to-peer dialogue and learning.

Implementing open government beyond the Government Secretariat of Modernisation through human resource management and innovation

  • Raise public servants’ awareness of the economic, political and social benefits of open government principles.

  • Advocate for the inclusion of open government principles in public servants competency and values framework, as well as their ToRs, including in the provinces.

  • Further enhance the impact on open government reforms of courses offered by the Design Academy of Public Policy, by harnessing the potential offered by the significant number of trained public servants.

  • Transform each training participant into an agent of change. This could be achieved through the creation of formal or informal forums and networks of public servants that have taken the courses and are willing to pass on their knowledge to others.

  • Consider moving beyond innovation to include additional courses with a specific focus on open government principles.

  • Integrate open government principles into existing courses.

  • Move towards a strategic approach to human resource management by including HRM provisions in the National Open Government Strategy.

References

Beun, J.O.L. (7 September 2018), “In Argentina, public servants get promoted for learning how to innovate”, Apolitical, https://apolitical.co/solution_article/in-argentina-public-servants-get-promoted-for-learning-how-to-innovate.

Government of Argentina (2018), Background Report prepared for the OECD Open Government Review of Argentina, unpublished working paper.

Government of Argentina (2017), 3er Plan de Acción Nacional de Gobierno Abierto de la República de Argentina [3rd National Open Government Action Plan of the Republic of Argentina], Open Government Partnership, Buenos Aires, www.opengovpartnership.org/countries/argentina.

Government of Argentina (2016), Decreto 434/2016 Plan de Modernización del Estado [State Modernisation Plan], Buenos Aires, www.argentina.gob.ar/normativa/decreto-434-2016-259082/texto.

Government of Argentina (2015), Plan de Acción de la República Argentina 2015-2017 [Action Plan of the Argentine Republic 2015-2017], Open Government Partnership, Buenos Aires, www.opengovpartnership.org/countries/argentina.

Government of Argentina (2013), “Argentina Action Plan – April 2013”, Open Government Partnership, Buenos Aires, www.opengovpartnership.org/countries/argentina.

Italy Open Government (n.d.), Open Government Forum, http://open.gov.it/open-governmentpartnership/open-government-forum (accessed 25 November 2016).

Neuquén Informa (2018), Primer Laboratorio de Innovación Joven en San Martín de los Andes, www.neuqueninforma.gob.ar/primer-laboratorio-de-innovacion-joven-en-san-martin-de-los-andes (accessed 14 January 2019).

OECD (2019a), OECD Integrity Review of Argentina: Achieving Systemic and Sustained Change, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/g2g98ec3-en.

OECD (2019b), Digital Government Review of Argentina: Accelerating the Digitalisation of the Public Sector, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/354732cc-en.

OECD (2019c), Open Government in Biscay, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/e4e1a40c-en.

OECD (2018a), OECD Public Governance Reviews: Paraguay: Pursuing National Development through Integrated Public Governance, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264301856-en.

OECD (2018b), Draft Recommendation of the Council on Public Service Leadership and Capability, Paris, www.oecd.org/gov/pem/draft-recommendation-of-the-council-on-public-service-leadership-and-capability.pdf.

OECD (2018c), OECD Surveys on Open Government in Argentina, OECD, Paris.

OECD (2017a), Recommendation of the Council on Open Government, OECD, Paris, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0438 (accessed 30 November 2018).

OECD (2017b), Skills for a High Performing Civil Service, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264280724-en.

OECD (2016), Open Government: The Global Context and the Way Forward, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264268104-en.

OECD (2015a), OECD Survey on Open Government Co-ordination and Citizen Participation in the Policy Cycle, OECD, Paris.

OECD (2015b), “Policy shaping and policy making: The governance of inclusive growth”, OECD Ministerial Meeting, www.oecd.org/governance/ministerial/thegovernance-of-inclusive-growth.pdf (accessed 14 November 2018).

OECD (2014), “Centre stage: Driving better policies from the Centre of Government”, unclassified OECD document, GOV/PGC/MPM(2014)3/FINAL, OECD, Paris, www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=gov/pgc/mpm(2014)3&doclanguage=en.

Province of Neuquén (2017), Diversidad de miradas, creación colectiva: Comenzó a rodar Nqn Lab, http://ciudadanianqn.com.ar/noticia.php?noticia=582 (accessed 14 January 2019).

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