copy the linklink copied!Executive summary

Panama has long championed the value of digital government, demonstrating a broad national consensus on seizing the opportunities brought by new technologies to make the public sector more efficient, responsive and sustainable. The country has laid strong foundations for equipping the public sector as a whole to tackle broader strategic goals for Panama’s digital economy and society. Working towards these goals requires not only sustaining existing efforts, but also exploring data-driven activity, open-by-default approaches, collaborative design and delivery of services, and digital skills development for public servants as well as citizens and businesses.

Panama’s current digital government strategy (Digital Strategy 2014-19 PANAMA 4.0) provides a collective vision for the future of the country’s public sector and recognises the critical role of digital technologies in supporting a government driven by users’ needs, building a competitive and inclusive economy and encouraging sustainable societal well-being. Further development of this vision requires taking the digital agenda beyond technical implementation to pursue more strategic objectives such as adopting a digital-by-design approach and protecting and enhancing citizens’ digital rights.

While the National Authority for Government Innovation (Autoridad Nacional para la Innovación Gubernamental, AIG) has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of strong leadership providing a clear vision and setting a strategy for implementation, this is not sufficient for the digital transformation of the public sector. The transformation depends on other critical variables such as permanent political support, a clear and solid institutional mandate, necessary co-ordination mechanisms, and strategic policy levers. The capacity to mobilise the required financial and human resources across public sector organisations is also necessary for the digital government strategy to achieve its government-wide ambitions.

Success across government relies on cohesion and horizontal co-operation. One of the critical enablers of this is data. Panama has developed an important focus on open government data, but has made less progress on using data to improve policymaking, design services and monitor performance. The country can now develop a broader strategy for improving the management, sharing, use and reuse of data within the public sector. Recognising the importance of improving the accessibility and reuse of openly published data, as well as internal data governance, will support Panama’s digital government evolution towards a public sector that leverages data to be more open and innovative.

Finally, and in line with most governments from OECD member countries, Panama needs to meet rising expectations from service users. Understanding the entirety of a user’s journey from end to end across multiple channels, as well as the experience of public servants in meeting those needs, is crucial for effective service provision and user satisfaction. AIG has shown strong central leadership in adjusting and re-designing processes and developing shared infrastructure, but Panama should now seek to adopt a more strategic approach that defines common standards and embeds a user-centred culture throughout the public sector.

copy the linklink copied!Key policy recommendations

Strengthening Governance

  • Prioritise a strategic shift in the digital government framework towards efforts that reinforce the country’s digital maturity and encourage greater involvement from the ecosystem of stakeholders for better policy alignment and value creation.

  • Continue supporting the relevance and mandate of AIG as the national public sector organisation responsible for leading and coordinating the development of digital government, prioritising the evolution of some of its responsibilities.

  • Strengthen coordination mechanisms inter-departmentally to secure coherent and sustainable policy implementation, shared ownership and responsibility for the development of a digitally-enabled state.

  • Continue efforts to keep the legal and regulatory frameworks updated that can allow Panama to enhance the digital transformation.

Building Institutional Capacities

  • Reinforce the level of priority attributed to the development of digital skills in the public sector that can properly sustain the country’s efforts and ambitions towards a digitally-enabled state.

  • Amplify the use of policy levers such as business cases for ICT investment and budget thresholds that reinforce the coordinating role of AIG in planning for investments in digital technologies across the public sector.

  • Prioritise the development of a specific ICT procurement policy for the Panamanian public sector to strengthen the country’s permanent efforts towards a coherent and sustainable digital government.

Data-driven Public Sector

  • Increase the strength and visibility of leadership for the data agenda at both the central level and within each institution in order to build a data-driven public sector culture in Panama.

  • Consider how civil society actors and private sector entrepreneurs can work with public servants to explore how Panamanian government data can improve lives whether through government policy, voluntary activities or commercial solutions to everyday problems.

Service Design and Delivery

  • Establish a service design and delivery culture driven by citizens’ needs within its institutions as well as at AIG to help Panama develop a joined up, channel agnostic approach to delivering services.

  • Prioritise the design of a seamless experience for businesses, citizens and visitors and clearly identify how services and technologies already in use, as well as those planned for the future, will interact.

  • Develop an understanding of the needs of citizens that allows the Panamanian government to focus proactively on the most important user problems to maximise public value as services are being designed.

  • Support experimentation with emerging and disruptive technologies by encouraging an innovative approach to the delivery of public services in Panama.

  • Commit to government investment in Panama’s digital infrastructure and industries and encourage inward investment and collaboration across borders to sustain and develop Panama as a “digital hub”.


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Executive summary