Executive summary

Digital technologies are radically changing how citizens live, work, consume services and interact. The capacity of governments to respond to the digital transformation underway, and produce more inclusive, convenient and collaborative processes and services, is crucial for securing citizen’s trust.

The Brazilian government has been iteratively moving towards digital government by prioritising policy issues such as connectivity, interoperability, open government data and citizen-driven service delivery. The recent launch of the revised Digital Governance Strategy (2016-19) reflects the Brazilian government’s commitment to advance toward a digitally transformed public sector. There is an opportunity, however, to amplify this commitment through joint communication efforts on other strategic initiatives such as the Strategy for Digital Transformation and Efficient Brazil Programme. Nonetheless, it provides the momentum for developing a stronger governance framework for policy implementation. The identification of a clear institutional function - e.g. a Chief Digital Transformation Officer (CDTO) - to lead and steer strategic co-ordination would help deliver on current goals and priorities. Brazil would also benefit from a co-ordination process and mechanisms that allow public institutions to better communicate with each other, share resources and work together.

Competencies and skills are also fundamental pillars of a digitally enabled state. Brazil faces challenges not only related to attracting and retaining the best information and communication technology (ICT) professionals in the public sector but also to developing digital skills and growing awareness among leaders, decision makers and policy implementers about the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation. Brazil should prioritise the development of digital skills in four key areas: user, professional, complementary (the application of skills such as communications or project management in a digital environment) and leadership. The increasing share of ICT expenditures in the public sector budget also calls for strategic planning and policy mechanisms to improve the return rate on investments in digital technology. Mechanisms such as the pre-evaluation of ICT expenditures, business cases and project management standards could strengthen the leadership and co-ordination capacities of the Secretariat of Information and Communication Technologies, and improve the coherence and sustainability of Brazil’s public sector ICT investments.

In order to build on existing efforts in integrated, multi-channel and inclusive digital service delivery, Brazil should continue prioritising interoperability frameworks and digital identity systems, which not only lay the foundations for improving communication and interaction between the public administration and citizens and businesses, but provide building blocks for the use of emerging technologies. Ongoing efforts to update the legal and regulatory frameworks should also continue to ensure that digital technologies are recognised and incorporated into existing frameworks.

Brazil has several powerful examples of civil society organisations using ICT to promote more openness, transparency and citizen engagement with government. Yet, the government could better seize the opportunities offered by digital technologies to make the public sector more open, promote integrity and more actively engage with digital government stakeholders to co-design and co-create services. Harnessing digital technologies and making better use of data both within and outside the public sector would help Brazil develop more efficient, collaboration-based and citizen-driven digital services.

As the Brazilian public sector evolves from e-government to digital government, a holistic and strengthened government-wide approach will be required to ensure a public sector capable of using technology and data not only to increase efficiency but also to develop more open, inclusive and innovative services and policies.

Main policy recommendations

The Brazilian government is encouraged to:

  • strengthen its communication efforts around the Digital Governance Strategy and its relation with the Strategy for the Digital Transformation and Efficient Brazil

  • reinforce the role of the Secretariat of Information and Communication Technologies (SETIC) as the federal public sector organisation responsible for leading and standardising the development of digital government

  • consider institutionalising the role of a CDTO, supported by a clear and high-level political mandate and with responsibilities for ensuring co-ordination across sectors and levels of government

  • consider adopting the pre-evaluation of ICT investments, business cases and project management standards, which can help SETIC co-ordinate public ICT expenditures across the public sector to optimise investments and promote a coherent and sustainable implementation of digital government

  • ensure coherency in digital government policies across the public sector by strengthening the communication in the ISP (Sistema de Administração dos Recursos de Tecnologia da Informação)

  • establish an inter-federative policy articulation to promote the expansion of a consistent digital offer to states and municipalities

  • include specific actions to develop digital skills within the new skills framework to promote the coherent development of user, professional, complementary, and leadership digital capabilities among public servants

  • consider strengthening the conditions for retention and remuneration of IT analyst career members

  • update the Brazilian ICT procurement policy, promoting a shift towards a digital commissioning approach

  • continue investing in the development of important digital enablers such as digital identity and interoperability, and strengthening the foundations for coherent and integrated service delivery

  • consider bringing in expertise from outside the public sector to update the existing open source software policy in line with digital government needs

  • continue updating the digital government legal and regulatory framework to incorporate emerging technologies, to ensure that it enables and drives the digital transformation of the public sector while protecting citizens’ digital rights

  • continue and strengthen an integrated digital service policy, linked to the Digital Governance Strategy, to reinforce the coherence, effectiveness and commitment of the Brazilian public sector to delivering high-quality services to citizens

  • take a multi-channel approach to public services that includes mobile access to prevent the creation of new forms of digital divide

  • continue to promote the openness, auditability and accessibility of digital services, including transparency via the use, reuse and exchange of open government data

  • consider developing an action plan on the use of emerging technologies to promote inclusive and improved service design and delivery as a complement to the current Digital Governance Strategy

  • consider leading and actively supporting other Latin America and Caribbean countries’ efforts on cross-border service delivery, given the political and economic relevance of Brazil in the region as well as its experience in promoting interoperability across different federation levels.

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