copy the linklink copied!1. Introduction


This opening chapter provides the context for why service design and delivery, specifically in the context of ChileAtiende, is a priority for the government of Chile. To provide context to the overall report the chapter presents a brief history of government services exploring how the nature of their design and delivery has shifted from analogue origins, through the e-government era and is now understood from the perspective of digital government.


“Most of government is mostly service design most of the time” (Edgar, 2015[1]). This statement by the Head of Design for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service reflects the observation that interactions that fall under the responsibility of government do not simply happen by accident but are the product of decisions that influence the design and experience of how government is consumed.

Service delivery is the central point of contact between a state and its citizens, residents, businesses and visitors. It has a major impact on the efficiency achieved by public agencies, the satisfaction of citizens with their government and the success of a policy in meeting its objectives. Alongside confidence in the integrity of government, the reliability and quality of government services is an important contributor to trust in government. The quality of these interactions between citizen and state shape not only their experience of government, but influence the opportunities they access and the lives they build. The digital transformation of our economies and societies is leading to external pressures for government to improve the delivery of services whilst at the same time motivating the public sector to champion design approaches to better meet the needs of citizens.

In this context, users are unforgiving of services that compare poorly with experiences of high quality delivery, whether from the private sector or elsewhere in government. To meet rising quality expectations, governments need to focus on understanding the entirety of a user’s journey across multiple channels, as well as associated internal, civil servant, processes, to identify opportunities for transforming the end to end experience. Doing this may require adjusting and re-designing processes, defining common standards and building shared infrastructure to create the necessary foundations for transformation as well as ensuring the interoperability of public agencies to facilitate the data flows that will make integrated, omni-channel services possible.

This report, Digital Government in Chile – improving public service design and delivery, is intended to meet the needs of the Chilean public sector in understanding the role services play as the point of contact between a State and its citizens and therefore leverage the opportunities provided by the digital age to improve public service design and delivery. The OECD Digital Government and Open Government Data unit has long-standing interest in this area with Rethinking e-Government Services (OECD, 2009[2]) arguing for the shift from government-centric to user-centric approaches and M-Government (OECD/ITU, 2011[3]) highlighting the importance of meeting the needs of users as conveniently as possible. Informed by the experience of OECD member countries, previous projects and research of the Inter-American Development Bank and OECD Digital Government Reviews carried out around the world (specifically in Estonia and Finland (OECD, 2015[4]), Norway (OECD, 2017[5]), Brazil (OECD, 2018[6]), African Portuguese-Speaking Countries and Timor-Leste (OECD, 2018[7]), Panama (OECD, 2019[8]) and Slovenia (OECD, Forthcoming[9])), the report presents a strategic approach that can be applied to increase the efficiency of public agencies, the satisfaction of citizens with their government, and the success of a policy in meeting its objectives.

copy the linklink copied!A brief history of services

Analogue government

The delivery of services by organisations responsible for health, welfare, safety, security and other areas is a timeless characteristic of countries. It is not just in the twenty first century that governing authorities have wanted to conduct censuses to understand their populations, implemented tax regimes to generate income, recognised the owner of a piece of land or with responsibility for a business, required paperwork to cross from one side of a border to another, or recorded the outcome of a criminal prosecution. It is hard to conceive of a world without the bureaucracy with which we are familiar, and hard to pinpoint a period of history with an absence of these kinds of interaction between citizens and their governing authority.

For the majority of human bureaucratic history those processes and interactions have been carried out with paper and handled manually. Ledgers, dockets, stamps and warehouses filled with boxes and boxes of paper are the more familiar currency of government services than the ideal of proactive and data-driven services with users at their heart which this report will discuss. It is in the origins of government organisation and service logistics that many of the structures and interactions with which we’re familiar came into existence, shaped by the practical realities of paper based, siloed activity where a new technology or new policy might give birth to a bespoke organisation, established to respond to a particular, discrete need.

Analogue government therefore has a successful history of dealing with the business of government. To contemporary eyes the history of bureaucracy may look inefficient but paper has underpinned mostly effective government for an awfully long time. Nevertheless, the legacy of these approaches is found in the organising structure of government institutions and the specific design of particular processes in law but also in the networks of service provision criss-crossing a country whether in the interplay between central and local government or in the offices to which people go in order to get their needs met.

That is not to say that paper based service delivery has stood still – those processes have come under scrutiny, been open to innovation and gone through iteration in light of the technological advances of the age all with a view to generate greater efficiency or improved outcomes whether in the public or private sector. Indeed, one of the earliest recorded mentions of a ‘one stop shop’ can be found in an advert from July 1930 of a car mechanic from Lincoln, Nebraska, USA bringing auto parts, auto repairs and auto sales into a single location1. This idea of giving people one destination to resolve their needs rather than travelling to several provided the blueprint for the One Stop Shop concept that has now become synonymous with government efforts to simplify the administrative burden on their citizens and businesses.


The late twentieth century saw government exploring the opportunities to increase its efficiency and effectiveness through digitising analogue processes. These changes created a driver for exploring further consolidation of services and delivery of e-government. The argument was fairly simple - greater government efficiency would follow not only from reducing the quantity of access points but also the reliance on paper. In general, this model of digitisation considered that technology was the solution for implementing an existing analogue process in terms of encouraging more people to use online services and supporting organisations achieve more with less.

This approach tended to make the implementation of technology the focus, especially in the context of closing down and consolidating any existing physical face-to-face channels. Whilst governments used ICT to streamline the relationship between citizens and business and the public sector there was a desire to make things better. However, sometimes this saw the e-government agenda morph into a ‘digital by default’ ideal that assessed the cost of continuing to provide services in person as too high and set the expectation for services to be accessible online, and online only with those choosing to continue using offline channels facing higher costs, tighter deadlines and reduced support.

In the rush to make things available online the result has been government-centred services, which is to say, services that reproduce analogue bureaucratic procedures using technology and simply doing the same things that had been done offline, online. This led to results that did not necessarily bring more convenience to the users. Administrative simplification efforts for particular industries and certain audiences as well as a focus on particular life events created consolidated entry points but inadvertently introduced different siloes accompanied by multiple channels (digital, telephone and physical) with different navigation, usability and effectiveness. In reflecting the internal institutional structure of government there is a mismatch with expectations of the twenty-first century in offering simpler and more convenient services that are seamless, integrated and can be accessed across multiple channels.

The enthusiasm for digitising what was previously analogue is best described by the ‘digital by default’ agenda. Introduced with the best of intentions its application has sometimes risked excluding some parts of society from being able to access critical services. Furthermore, the resulting contractual arrangements with systems integrators, overheads of legacy technologies and siloed approaches to designing policy separate from delivering services separate from ongoing operations have contributed to the environment that has most recently given rise to a digital government agenda.

Digital government

The digital government agenda represents a new paradigm of thinking about the design and delivery of services. Where e-government had a technology focus, digital government is about embedding a digital culture throughout the practice of government that focuses on meeting the need of a user by re-engineering and re-designing services and processes. Technology is a background enabler, woven into the ongoing activity of improving government, rather than the driver of transformation. This digitalisation goes hand in hand with establishing digital-by-design cultures that transform the behaviours of an organisation. The challenge for governments around the world is in building a new relationship between citizen and state and digital government is critical in encouraging an open and user-driven approach that rethinks and redesigns the interactions rather than simply moving bureaucracy from one channel to another.

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Figure 1.1. From analogue to digital government
Figure 1.1. From analogue to digital government

Source: Based on OECD (2014[10]), Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies

The Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies (OECD, 2014[10]) comprises 3 pillars and 12 principles that ensure the successful design, development and implementation of digital government strategies to enable transformation. They reflect a set of activities that, taken together, allow government to address the necessary activities to deliver on the promise of digital transformation. Building on the Recommendation, the OECD has developed a series of indicators to measure the level of country’s digital government maturity across six dimensions, as shown in Figure 1.2.

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Figure 1.2. The main characteristics of a digital government
Figure 1.2. The main characteristics of a digital government

Source: OECD (Forthcoming[11]), Digital Government Policy Framework

Each of these areas has relevance to supporting the effective implementation of a service design and delivery strategy, which will be discussed in more detail throughout Chapter 2.

  1. 1. Data-driven public sector: The importance of data as a foundational enabler for designing policies and services, shaping their ongoing delivery and understanding the impact they are having and changes that may need to be made.

  2. 2. Open by default: The desire of governments to collaborate across organisational boundaries, and involve those outside of government is critical in ensuring that service teams understand and engage with the needs of users and that government itself is able to collaborate and coordinate its activity to solve whole problems.

  3. 3. Government as a platform: Building an ecosystem of resources and tools that support and equip service design and delivery teams in meeting the needs of their users. This includes sharing best practice and guidelines; governance, spending and assurance; digital inclusion; common components and tools (such as digital identity, notifications, payments and design systems)); data governance and its application for public value and trust; and public sector talent and capabilities.

  4. 4. Digital by design: Recognising that transforming services needs to be approached with an understanding of all the associated activities rather than simply putting analogue processes online and expecting to improve outcomes.

  5. 5. User-driven: An approach to designing and delivering services, enabled by an open by default culture and the ambitions of digital by design to include, and be led by, the needs of the public rather than the assumptions of government.

  6. 6. Proactive: The ability of governments to anticipate, and rapidly respond to, the needs of their citizens through the application of the five above-mentioned dimensions. Transformed government allows problems to be addressed from end to end rather than the otherwise piecemeal digitisation of component parts.

In practical terms digital government provides an opportunity for developing end to end services that understand the interplay in the course of resolving a single issue between analogue interactions (such as an initial letter), face to face interactions, telephone contacts and digital services. As such, the digital government approach to designing and delivering services is not about digital versus analogue but about an approach and methodology that prioritises understanding user needs and designing approaches that meet them.

Despite these ideals, what has often resulted from the evolution of service provision is a jumble of different delivery networks and service channels. Sometimes one stop shops have provided a selection of services grouped around a particular set of needs whilst still maintaining organisational websites that also provide the individual services. In other cases smaller organisations might have collaborated to combine their efforts whilst larger organisations with the resources to operate independently may be running their own offices, websites and call centres. The digital government agenda has begun to see various countries respond to these technical and infrastructure legacies by arguing that if the citizen was at the heart of a particular approach then none of this confusing mess would exist. As such, countries need to outline a strategic plan by which they can transition from the existing status quo to a situation where citizens can access reliably high quality and well-designed services, delivered by teams in government supported by a full range of ‘Government as a Platform’ resources and capabilities.

copy the linklink copied!Services in Chile

Like many countries, the Government of Chile has taken steps to respond to the patchwork of its services. Motivated by the desire to deliver higher quality services the government of Chile established a centralised, nationwide network of access points under a common branding: ChileAtiende is a multi-channel entry point for government through which citizens can access public services face to face, on the telephone, or through digital means (web, self-service kiosks and social media). Its ambition has been to bring the State closer to citizens through a simpler, more efficient and transparent approach. To date the ChileAtiende network provides services for 25 government institutions, and reaches 71,5% net user satisfaction rate in the standardised measurement (Secretaría de Modernización, 2018[12]) and 89% in the Social Security Institute (Instituto de Previsión Social, IPS) independent survey (Instituto de Previsión Social, 2017[13]) in its face-to-face channel, outstanding figures for local satisfaction levels with public services. However, figures for ChileAtiende service delivery are yet modest: the network covers only 6% of total transactions for public service delivery in the country (Ministerio de Hacienda, 2018[14]). Additionally, it only covers a limited number of public institutions in transactional service delivery.

Hence, if ChileAtiende is to become the cornerstone of Chilean public service delivery, it requires more than just an expansion strategy to increase the number of institutions and services provided in person, online and through the call centre, whilst maintaining its current high levels of satisfaction. Scaling ChileAtiende in this way must be complemented by a comprehensive service design and delivery strategy that takes measures to promote a service design culture across the Chilean public sector. This is foundational to Chile achieving high quality user-driven public services across all channels. As maturity of service delivery progresses it will be necessary to explore ways to prioritise the transformation of Chile’s more than 3 000 identified services, and to identify any commonalities that can be addressed through a Government as a Platform Strategy.

The Chilean government is ambitious for ChileAtiende to put the state at the service of the citizen, making every effort to avoid friction for people in accessing public goods and services. As they approach the future of service design and delivery in the country, the desire is to serve their citizens not only with agility, efficiency and speed but with care and attention. ChileAtiende is seen as the vehicle through which that can be done because it is a trusted and respected presence in the community providing face to face access to services, facilitated by a design and delivery approach that provides ubiquity and simplicity of access

In the next chapter, this report will present a Conceptual Framework for considering how a country might approach the strategic transformation of the design and delivery of its services leveraging the opportunities provided by the digital age. Chapter 3 will describe the service delivery situation in Chile before Chapter 4 will provide an analysis of that situation against the conceptual framework.


[1] Edgar, M. (2015), Most of government is mostly service design most of the time. Discuss. – Matt Edgar writes here, (accessed on 24 January 2019).

[13] Instituto de Previsión Social (2017), Estudio Recurrente de Satisfacción de Usuarios del IPS.

[14] Ministerio de Hacienda (2018), Presentación Nueva Institucionalidad ChileAtiende.

[8] OECD (2019), Digital Government Review of Panama: Enhancing the Digital Transformation of the Public Sector, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[6] OECD (2018), Digital Government Review of Brazil: Towards the Digital Transformation of the Public Sector, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[7] OECD (2018), Promoting the Digital Transformation of African Portuguese-Speaking Countries and Timor-Leste, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[5] OECD (2017), Digital Government Review of Norway: Boosting the Digital Transformation of the Public Sector, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[4] OECD (2015), OECD Public Governance Reviews: Estonia and Finland: Fostering Strategic Capacity across Governments and Digital Services across Borders, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[10] OECD (2014), Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies, OECD/LEGAL/0406, OECD, Paris,

[2] OECD (2009), Rethinking e-Government Services: User-Centred Approaches, OECD e-Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[9] OECD (Forthcoming), Digital Government Review of Slovenia, OECD Publishing, Paris.

[11] OECD (Forthcoming), OECD Digital Government Policy Framework, OECD, Paris.

[3] OECD/ITU (2011), M-Government: Mobile Technologies for Responsive Governments and Connected Societies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[12] Secretaría de Modernización (2018), Encuesta de Satisfacción Usuaria.


← 1. The earliest source identified by is for an advert for the John Bracelen Company from The Lincoln Star, Lincoln Nebraska USA from July 1930.

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