4. Improving government service design and delivery

Public service delivery is the cornerstone of the relationship between citizens and governments. Accessible, responsive, and resilient government services are essential to reinforce democracies, build trust in the public sector and secure timely government support and benefits to their constituents in times of crisis (OECD, 2022[1]).

With the wider availability and increased sophistication of digital technologies, governments have strategized the use of digital tools and data to make public services more user-friendly, transparent, and efficient (OECD, 2020[2]). Additionally, governments world-wide have advanced in offering services through digital channels, including the availability of service delivery portals with informational and transactional services (OECD, 2020[3]).

However, the advantages offered by the digital transformation go beyond putting analogue processes into digital means. They create an opportunity to rethink public services around users and their needs, fostering vertical and horizontal integration within governments as well as human-centric approaches when services are designed and delivered. Similarly, shifting from a silo-based digitalisation and rethinking of government services towards an integrated and omnichannel approach builds on appropriate governance and collaboration mechanisms for joined-up government services as well as a culture around users and their needs to achieve the transformative potential in public service delivery.

In this context, the OECD has assisted member and partner countries in their efforts to improve public sector capabilities to design and deliver services in the digital age through dedicated standards, conceptual frameworks and measurement tools including:

  • The OECD Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies which provides a set of principles for adherent governments to digitalise government processes and services closely understanding users and their needs, and to reflect them into government priorities embedded into national digital government strategies (OECD, 2014[4]).

  • The OECD Declaration of Public Sector Innovation which provides five principles and associated actions that governments or public organisations can use to inform and enhance innovation and its management across the public sector (OECD, 2019[5]).

  • The OECD Digital Government Policy Framework and the Digital Government Index, which together provide conceptual basis and country performance about governments’ capacity to understand, meet and eventually anticipate the needs of users in digital transformation of government services and processes (OECD, 2020[2]).

  • The OECD Framework for Service Design and Delivery, which builds on the contextual, cultural, and enabling factors that define governments’ capacity to understand user needs and design and deliver services that solve their final problems (OECD, 2020[6]; Welby and Tan, 2022[7]).

  • The OECD Good Practice Principles for Service Design and Delivery in the Digital Age, which set guiding provisions for governments to build more equitable, scalable, and accountable public services (OECD, 2022[8]).

The panorama of service design and delivery in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is structured around selected components of the OECD Framework for Service Design and Delivery to support countries deliver more human-centric, streamlined, integrated and proactive public services (Figure 4.1), which includes:

  • The strategic and historical approach to government services provision, including relevant policies, multi-level co-ordination and channels for service transformation in the public sector (Context for service design and delivery).

  • The cultural and organisational conditions to design and deliver services around users and their needs (Philosophy of service design and delivery).

  • The common tools and standards that equip service teams to design and deliver user-driven services (Enablers to support service design and delivery).

This chapter will address the design and delivery of public services identifying the most relevant aspects to assess the service approach in LAC countries.

  • First, in terms of context for service design and delivery, the analysis covers existing strategies for service transformation including co-ordination with and applicability to sub-national governments, and existing channels approaches.

  • Second, the chapter addresses the philosophy for public services by looking at how LAC countries are involving users in meaningful ways to understand and meet their needs, including user research methods and capacities, existing mechanisms and culture to measure performance and satisfaction of services.

  • Finally, the chapter looks at the panorama of enablers for service design and delivery in the region, looking at some core building blocks within the digital public infrastructure stack such as digital identity, registries and cloud technologies, as well as existing guidelines and standards for digitally enabled service transformation that secure a whole-of-government and human-centric approach.

Improving the quality, accessibility, and responsiveness of digitally enabled public services requires public sector institutions to have a common vision about understanding and meeting user needs, as well as work in a co-ordinated fashion to deliver coherent and integrated public services. As indicated in Chapter 1, the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies underscores a unified strategic approach to government digital transformation as a fundamental pillar to secure coherent and government-wide change. Similarly, setting a common strategy to guide digital government efforts constitutes a foundation for a transformative and effective governance for digital government, as underlined by the E-Leaders Handbook on the Governance for Digital Government (OECD, 2021[9]).

In line with global trends, the COVID-19 pandemic created a window opportunity for the public services agenda in LAC countries to gain traction within government priorities. Most governments managed to secure the political support to mobilise human and financial resources to secure public service continuity during the critical months of lockdown, rapidly making available online critical services such as social benefits. For example, Brazil saw a drastic increase in the number of available digital public services during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (1,000+). Similarly, uptake of relevant digital public infrastructure such as digital identity became pivotal for citizens to benefit from existing digitalised services. For instance, Chile’s digital identity system, ClaveUnica, increased the number of active users from 6.2 million to 10 million during 2020, and observed an increase of 500% in the total number of transactions during the same period.

LAC governments are still at an early stage to have a forward-looking approach that builds public services around users and their needs. The informality and inequality that characterise the region (see Chapter 1) sets a context in which most efforts undertaken still focus largely on ensuring the availability of the necessary digital public infrastructure and connectivity for digital public services to be deployed and accessible across the territories – as documented through country surveys and fact-finding interviews. This is reflected in the predominant focus of national digital government strategies (NDGS) given to advancing the development of foundational digital government tools (e.g. interoperability, digital signature, digital identity), and setting commitments to progress towards paperless operation models without always integrating users, their needs and the mechanisms required to understand and solve their problems. Addressing these issues requires a concerted, whole-of-government and strategic approach towards service design and delivery that articulates a common vision with government capacities to better understand and meet user needs, as outlined in the OECD Good Practice Principles for Service Design and Delivery in the Digital Age (OECD, 2022[8]) (see Box 4.1).

Evidence from the data gathering process conducted in the context of this report indicates that LAC governments are addressing the strategic approach to government service design and delivery from different perspectives, including NDGS, , formal requirements in legal frameworks, dedicated policies for government service transformation, and guidelines to assist public sector institutions in the digitalisation of government services.

  • Argentina: The Secretariat for Public Innovation at the Cabinet Office published the National Strategy for the Federal Programme of Public Digital Transformation1. The strategy outlines online services as one of its core pillars building on the development of common digital public infrastructure and calls for the implementation of the once-only principle as well as the development of dedicated institutional structures responsible for its implementation.

  • Barbados: The country progresses towards strengthening digital public services in the context of the Modernisation of the Public Sector Programme2 supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Programme aims to bridge gaps in terms of digital public infrastructure and accessibility to enable an increased digitalisation of government services and uptake of digital channels.

  • Brazil: The Secretary of Digital Government at the Ministry of Management and Innovation in Public Services published the Digital Government Strategy 2020-20223 (recently extended until 2023). The strategy builds on six pillars, one of which reflects the user-centred approach to digital services and the importance of understanding and meeting user needs.

  • Chile: The Digital Transformation Law 21.1804 is currently driving the strategic efforts for the digitalisation of administrative procedures in Chile. Under the co-ordination of the Digital Government Division (DGD) at the Ministry General Secretariat of the Presidency (MINSEGPRES), it mandates all public sector institutions (both at central and local levels) to digitalise all administrative procedures to transit towards a paperless administration (OECD, 2020[6]). It requires the development of reusable building blocks to for government institutions to digitalise administrative procedures, including interoperability, digital notification, and digital identity systems.

  • Colombia: The Ministry for Information and Communication Technologies (MINTIC) issued the Policy for Digital Government5 (updated in 2022) which gives a prominent role to users in the digitalisation of government services and following a long path of digital development within the Colombia public sector (OECD, 2018[10]). This includes the development of the Citizen Folder and other common enablers for digital service delivery. Similarly, Colombia also complements this approach with the work of the Administrative Department for Public Function (DAFP) and dedicated guidelines to support the rationalisation and streamlining of government services.6

  • Costa Rica: The Ministry for Science, Innovation, Technology and Telecommunications (MICITT) issued the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of Costa Rica 2018-2022.7 This policy instrument underscores the importance of advancing towards transparent and accessible digital services in the country, as well as promoting the integration between central and local governments for service provision.

  • Dominican Republic: The former Government Office of Information Technologies and Communications (OGTIC, formerly OPTIC) issued in 2019 the Technical Standard for Delivery and Automation of Public Services.8 The document frames government actions regarding channels strategy, administrative simplification and relevant building blocks for service delivery.

  • Ecuador: The Undersecretariat for Quality in Public Service at the Ministry of Labour issued a Technical Standard for the Continuous Improvement and Innovation in Processes and Services.9 This standard establishes government protocols and procedures to continuously assess government services as well as the responsibilities and roles within the Ecuadorian public sector for its implementation.

  • Jamaica: While the country does not have a recent consolidated strategy for digital government, several efforts are being undertaken to strengthen the governance for digital government as well as to advance towards a mobile-first and omnichannel approach to service delivery in the country.10

  • Panama: The Authority for Government Innovation (AIG) issued the National Digital Agenda 2022-2023.11 The document articulates Panama’s vision for digital government, with particular prominence to public digital infrastructure for service delivery, as well as a number of sectoral initiatives to digitalise government services, in line with the recommendations made by the OECD (OECD, 2019[11]).

  • Paraguay: The Ministry for Information and Communication Technologies (MITIC) issued the National Agenda for Digital Transformation12 with a dedicated pillar on digital government. Actions in this area aims to develop core building blocks for digital service delivery, including a citizen folder, document management systems and interoperability.

  • Peru: The country has been working for years in the consolidation of the digital government ecosystem, including governance and service delivery aspects (OECD, 2019[12]). In this context, Peru enacted in 2021 the Digital Government Law13 with the purpose of structuring the governance for digital government as well as the mandate of the Secretariat for Digital Government (SEGDI) at the Presidency of Council of Ministers. The Law and its respective implementation decree14 includes provisions for the development of digital public infrastructure such as digital identity and interoperability, as well as for promoting accessibility and usability of digital public services.

  • Uruguay: The Agency for Electronic Governance and Information and Knowledge Society (AGESIC) issued the Digital Government Plan 202515 which sets as a goal the redesign of government services to solve user needs. It includes provisions to streamline, integrate and offer proactive services to users, as well as to advance towards an omnichannel approach that blends the online and offline experience of users with Uruguay’s government. Additionally, the country has set ambitious goals to advance in the integration of government services as well as the provision of proactive services.

The extent to which public service goals are materialised in concrete actions to create a service design culture and practice differ in line with the digital government maturity observed as part of this review. Plausibly, the inequality observed in the development of digital government in LAC makes that countries have targeted service transformation goals to different levels. While some countries like Barbados, Jamaica and Bolivia had made commitments to close accessibility gaps, develop foundational digital public infrastructure and create government central service platforms, others such as Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay have achieved greater digital maturity to embed service design within their strategic goals for digital government in the recent years. Furthermore, some countries have defined specific targets or KPIs to achieve regarding digitalisation of government services. This includes Brazil and the goal of 100% digital administrative procedures by 2023; or Chile which set a similar goal for 2027.

Responsibility for steering service design and delivery in LAC countries differ also regarding the maturity and empowerment of existing digital government authorities. This is reflected in the extent to which dedicated service delivery teams have been established to support public sector institutions in their digital transformation efforts, as well as the degree of responsibility has been given to digital government authorities to set service standards, technical guidance, or regulatory frameworks. For instance, in Uruguay, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Paraguay digital government authorities have the mandate to steer the public services agenda including capacities to define user-centric approaches to guide digitalisation of government services. In other cases, such as Barbados, Bolivia, Argentina and Peru, the mandate does not clearly define service design actions within the remit and capacity of digital government authorities.

Other countries see the responsibility for service design is fragmented across several public sector institutions, calling for greater co-ordination to secure a unified and coherent public services agenda. This is the case of Colombia and the existing co-ordination between MINTIC, the National Planning Department (DNP) and DAFP to align the work on service design with administrative simplification efforts; or in Chile between the Digital Government Division and the Institute for Social Security (IPS) which is responsible for the management of service channels including online and offline means, as well as with the Government Innovation Lab which has developed service design capacity linked to the public sector innovation policy in the country (OECD, 2020[6]). In Ecuador, there is a dedicated Undersecretariat for Quality in Public Services at the Ministry of Labour, which requires close co-ordination with the digital government authority within the Ministry for Telecommunications (MINTEL). In several countries, this also involves co-ordination between public sector organisations that are responsible for the digitalisation of government services to businesses, including efforts on administrative simplification such as the cases of Argentina (CAF, 2020[13]) and Colombia.16

Acknowledging the institutional diversity across the region, looking ahead it would be important that LAC countries advance towards defining specific mandate and responsibilities regarding the public service agenda that go beyond the development of core building blocks and give a more prominent role to user research and user-centric design in the digitalisation of government services.

Given the scope of digital government policies to support the rethinking of government processes and services benefiting from the extensive use of digital tools and data, digital government authorities are placed in a key position to be also responsible for the service agenda. However, this requires evolving the mindset, mandate and capacities of digital government authorities together with the enactment of changes to institutional structures, and the deployment of policy tools and resources to further develop service design within national digital government strategies (NDGSs). Advancing public sector capacities for service design would complement the technical development of building blocks for government digitalisation and/or the management of digital channels that currently seems more present in LAC governments.

Another core aspect for the development of service design and delivery in LAC governments refers to the interplay between central and local governments in the implementation of digital government strategies and the digitalisation of services provided at the local government level. Local governments are often the closest point of interaction between users (citizens and businesses) and the public sector. With the large territorial diversity in LAC government and the vast fraction of the population still living in remote areas (OECD et al., 2020[14]) local governments have a fundamental role in service delivery in the region. Local governments are responsible for between 10% and 50% percent of total services in 8 out of 13 surveyed countries.

LAC countries are progressively developing policies and actions that promote alignment between digitalisation of local government services with overall government priorities on digital government. In Chile, the Digital Transformation Law 21.180 requires local governments to digitalise administrative processes and go paperless building on the close co-ordination between the Digital Government Division and the Undersecretariat for Regional Development (SUBDERE) at the Ministry of Interior.

In Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, the existing technical standards that legally structure the digitalisation of government services are also applicable to subnational governments. In Colombia, the work of MINTIC on service design and delivery has a predominant focus on improving the co-ordination between national and sub-national governments, including their involvement in decision-making. Within these efforts to promote multi-level alignment for the digitalisation of government services, some countries have established dedicated programmes at the central level to assist local governments in this process. For example, Costa Rica has included the initiative Digital Local Governments in the NDGS, which aims to equip local governments with common tools for service digitalisation and to integrate them into a single service delivery platform.

In Uruguay, AGESIC issued a dedicated strategy for digital government in sub-national governments17 working with the Office of Planning and Budgeting (OPP) and the Association of Mayors with particular emphasis on simplification of administrative procedures. This initiative comes to complement existing support from AGESIC through the Interior Co-operation Programme (PCI) for local governments to adopt existing digital tools and common enablers (e.g. document management systems and service delivery interfaces) to digitalise local government services (see Box 4.2). In Argentina, the Undersecretariat for Public Innovation is implementing since 2022 the Federal Programme for Public Digital Transformation to structure multi-level co-operation to assist federal governments in the adoption and use of digital tools to transform their processes and services.

Despite the growing relevance of sub-national governments within central government digital transformation policies, evidence from the fact-finding calls and data collection process indicates that further efforts are needed to anchor the digitalisation of local government services within digital government strategies and policy frameworks. Examples such as from Uruguay and PCI can be of relevance for LAC governments to expand the coverage of existing policies for digitalisation of (sub)national governments, learning from the structures, financial incentives and co-ordination in place to secure coherence and alignment.

Public service delivery has been traditionally implemented through physical access such as public sector institutions premises or centralised delivery offices. The widespread availability and use of digital technologies has opened new opportunities to deliver services through digital means and channels including mobile devices and online platforms. Countries progressively adhere to the development of multichannel service delivery models in which services are offered through different channels (face-to-face, mobile, website, email) to increase convenience and accessibility for users. However, the multichannel approach largely focuses on the convenience for users to access services rather than on ensuring a services experience that is consistent, coherent, and integrated across channels. More forward-looking approaches such as omnichannel service delivery aim also to secure a coherent and integrated experience to users regardless of their preferred channel (OECD, 2020[6]; 2020[2]).18

Most governments in LAC have adopted multichannel service delivery approaches in contrast to a few that are delivering omnichannel government services that provide a seamless user journey across multiple channels. This reflects the still limited strategic approach to address service design and delivery beyond proving access to digital services in LAC as well as to transit towards a digital by design approach in which government services are digitally enabled from the outset (OECD, 2020[2]; 2018[16]). For example, in Chile the omnichannel approach to service delivery is branded under ChileAtiende (OECD, 2020[6]) under the remit of the Institute for Social Security (IPS). Pension delivery has played a key role to shape Chile’s omnichannel strategy since IPS had the largest network of delivery spots across the country (200+) which are integrated with telephone and digital channels – the latter co-ordinated with the Digital Government Division. In Uruguay, AGESIC is also responsible for the Integrated Service Delivery System19 which blends online and offline delivery channels. Both Chile and Uruguay manage their omnichannel approach through Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) to effectively monitor use and workload of different channels across the countries.

The development of omnichannel approaches requires sound strategies, co-ordination mechanisms and enabling conditions (from funding to effective data sharing within the public sector). In the cases of Chile and Uruguay, efforts to integrate channels under a unique experience have required more than a decade to consolidate and there are still challenges to make sure different channels are fully aligned and users can benefit from an equal and consistent service delivery quality in each of them. Given the diversity, rurality and inequality across countries and regions in LAC, other countries could consider advancing and aligning the digitalisation of government services through an omnichannel approach that secures an inclusive delivery, respects user preferences and leaves no one behind.

Across different channels, digital service delivery platforms have a primary role in providing easier access to either informational or transactional services in LAC countries. Regarding the digital experience of users with government services in LAC, all surveyed countries have a central service delivery platform that offers information and/or transactional services (see Table 4.1). This represents a positive step ahead compared to the state of the art in 2014, where only 66% of LAC countries had at least an informational service delivery website (OECD, 2018[16]). Progress towards transactional services is clear in the region, with only Barbados and Jamaica only offering informational services through their respective digital channels. Furthermore, and in the context of rising coverage and uptake of mobile devices and connectivity (OECD et al., 2020[14]), mobile apps have gained traction across governments in the region. In Argentina (MiArgentina), Brazil (gov.br), Ecuador (Gov.EC), Dominican Republic (Servicios Públicos RD) and Uruguay (gub.uy), governments have developed mobile apps that offer digital services at convenience.

Digital channels played a key role to secure service continuity in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic (OECD, 2021[17]). In LAC, preference for digital channels took up during lock-down period (Figure 4.3) with national and institutional websites as well as mobile app as primary means to access government services. Within a social and economic context that required easy access to public services to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries encountered during this period an opportunity to mobilise political support and resources to intensify previous efforts to digitalise government services (IDB, 2022[18]; OECD, 2020[19]; 2021[20]). Additionally, governments’ capacity to digitalise government services largely leveraged the maturity of existing digital government strategies, policies, and tools to rapidly react and respond to the need to secure service continuity (OECD, 2021[17]). In Brazil, the Secretary for Digital Government managed to digitalise more than a 1,000 federal services after the beginning of the pandemic and in a short period of time during 2020. In Ecuador, MINTEL managed to increase the number of services from 35% to 70% during 2020.20 In Chile, tools such as SIMPLE, a widespread public sector business modelling process tool (BPM) supported a rapid transition of services to digital channels in line with the mandate of the Digital Transformation Law 21.180 and the Presidential Instructive for Digital Transformation and a Paperless Administration.21 However, evidence from the fact-finding calls with LAC governments and digital government authorities questions the extent to which the rapid digitalisation of government services is reflecting putting analogue process into digital means (digitalising bureaucracy) rather than a meaningful service transformation (i.e. an opportunity to rethink processes and services to deliver more convenient, user driven services).

Finally, service catalogues play a key role in mapping government services and as tools to support an end-to-end approach when integrating different interactions or fragmented formalities that can constitute a discrete service. Surveyed countries indicate that almost all of them count with a service catalogue, although with disparity regarding their coverage out the total number of government services. As flagged previously in Table 4.1, only Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Ecuador (see Box 4.3) indicated having a service catalogue covering 100% of government services. For most of LAC countries, progressing towards a comprehensive repository of government services would be a pillar in the design and delivery of proactive and streamlined services.

The ultimate goal of public service delivery is to solve users’ end-problems. The approach to understanding and meeting these needs may differ according to the level of digital government maturity, the mindset and culture around involving users in service delivery and policy making, and the tools in place to capture those needs and transforming them into responsive and accessible services (OECD, 2020[2]; 2020[6]). The departing point for OECD members is not positive: in most countries, citizens are not confident that services are responsive to their needs and feedback (OECD, 2022[1]).

Delivering services that meet user needs is grounded on good service design. The most effective experience with government services should allow users to access and complete simple processes, based on governments’ re-using data to anticipate and proactively deliver services. Additionally, OECD countries are advancing towards meaningful ways to better involve users in service design and delivery to secure that services meet the expectations and needs of citizens and businesses (OECD, 2020[2]).

In LAC, embracing a mindset and culture that builds on user research to better understand user needs would be particularly relevant considering existing social and economic inequalities as well as the yet limited engagement of targeted groups in digital service delivery such as elderly and migrants (Figure 4.4). This requires governments to develop organisational capacities for a government-wide culture of user research that do not see interactions in isolation but aim to understand and meet whole problems, including agile development and design methods that assist service teams throughout the digitalisation process (Figure 4.5).

In LAC, the culture of public administration is characterised by a predominant legalistic mindset in administrative procedures and services that constrains much of digitalisation efforts in a context which is also characterised by limited financial and human resources. In effect, in LAC “government transactions are often headaches. Public institutions rarely co-ordinate with each other, still rely on paper, and are more concerned about fulfilling bureaucratic requirements than meeting citizens’ needs.” (Roseth, Reyes and Santiso, 2018[23]). The redesigning of services often requires going through administrative simplification processes to revise existing regulatory frameworks to identify blind spots and possibilities for data sharing and integration of multiple transactions into more comprehensive services, e.g. organised through life experiences or life events. However, the legal culture that impacts service transformation often creates incentives for a top-down approach (i.e. interpretation rather than understanding of user needs) and an inward-looking mindset (i.e. oriented to internal needs and bureaucracy rather than users) that limits the extent to which digital services can be transformed to meet the expectations of increasingly demanding users with changing needs.

Surveyed countries in this report indicate that citizens remain the primary group involved in service design and delivery (see Figure 4.6). However, the quality of this process, intended as the mechanisms for engagement and user research in place to effectively understand user needs, remain limited across most countries. Evidence from fact-finding meetings sheds light on these results: when asked about how users are involved in service design, most government organisations indicated that they interpret users and their needs and inform them about possible solutions (e.g. by testing alternatives) rather than engaging them from the outset. Digital government authorities often lack human resources and sufficient digital tools and standards on user research and service design to equip public sector institutions when digitalising their government services.

Some LAC countries are experimenting with user research and creating a culture for service transformation around user needs. In Chile, the Laboratorio de Gobierno has a dedicated department for service design and contributes to priority areas to transform service delivery, for example in the implementation of Protected Middle-Class Network (Red Clase Media Protegida) in collaboration with the Digital Government Division, the Ministry for Social Development and relevant social service delivery institutions.23 In Uruguay, AGESIC developed a toolkit with service design tools to better understand, empathise, co-create and experiment with users.24 In Brazil, the Secretary of Digital Government has started to experiment with user-centric approaches to service design, but interviewees agree is rather a new approach. In the Dominican Republic, OGTIC developed the Dominican Design System, a set of design methods to secure a coherent and consistent experience across government platforms.25 In Colombia, MINTIC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UK’s Government Digital Service for sharing of good practices with particular focus on how Colombia can learn from existing UK practices on service design26 and implemented a dedicated framework to assist public sector institutions when designing government services (see Box 4.4).

LAC countries are also addressing user engagement in service design through the adoption of agile development methodologies that help better define problems, involve users and find solutions through iteration, experimentation and testing prior to scale up (OECD, 2020[6]). In Peru, the Secretariat for Digital Government promotes a common standard for agile development of digital services building on the good practices from UK’s GDS Service Standard.27 In Uruguay, AGESIC developed a toolkit for agile development that includes service design and project/product management guidance.28 Yet, consistent and widespread adoption of agile methodologies in LAC governments remains limited.

While positive, examples listed above unveiled the absence of a consistent approach in LAC to user research and service design which may require further national and regional efforts. In line with best OECD practices, LAC governments could further develop service design capacities as part of the ongoing recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic, in which several governments have increased the financial resources and strengthened digital government policy frameworks and strategies.

Delivering responsive and convenient services to users requires continuous improvement and a systematic approach to capture performance, opinions and satisfaction as well as to incorporate them into feedback loops (OECD, 2022[8]). LAC countries are still progressing towards having a consolidated approach to measuring and using performance data to improve service design and delivery. Only 5 out of 13 surveyed countries have centralised mechanisms in place to capture some level of service performance data at central/federal levels (e.g. number of visits, transactions per channel, transactions completed), while in an equal number of countries specific public sector institutions may collect similar data for the services they offer. However, in most of cases performance measurement systems focus on digital services, in line with previous findings about the limited omnichannel approach to government services in LAC. Countries in LAC do not have a consistent and comprehensive approach to collect performance data as most data points refer to basic indicators such as number of visits (inc. per channel), or average processing time.

Collecting performance data enables timely decision-making to improve service design and delivery. In line with the limited capacity to collect performance data in a consistent way, only a few countries in LAC are using this data in a consistent and coherent way to improve service design and delivery. For example, in Brazil the Secretary for Digital Government has developed a monitoring system for federal digital services which includes information about access, availability and use of services.29 In Chile, IPS’s ChileAtiende network manages channel performance through a dedicated CRM that provides information about workload and in-person demand to centralised decision making about how to speed up service delivery in specific offices (OECD, 2020[6]). At the same time, ChileAtiende and the Digital Government Division manage a service performance dashboard with transactional services to monitor adoption and migration from in-person to digital channels30 serving to prioritise what services will be digitalised. In Uruguay, AGESIC has an integrated service system which monitors performance of online and offline services as part of the omnichannel strategy in place in the country (Box 4.5). AGESIC complements this system with cost-benefit analysis about digitalisation of government services (see Chapter 2).

Finally, user satisfaction complements service performance data to assess the experience of users when accessing a certain service. As covered in the section Monitoring and Assessment in Chapter 2, countries are taking up satisfaction measurement as part of evaluating the success of digital transformation efforts. However, it is important to consider that the feedback loop of satisfaction data is longer and more complex than real-time and granular service performance data, and LAC countries could consider embedding existing efforts on user satisfaction measurement within a broader service improvement agenda that integrates data captured throughout service delivery (performance data) and once services have been accessed (satisfaction data).

A coherent and whole-of-government omnichannel approach to service design and delivery builds on the goal of offering a convenient, cohesive, and integrated experience to users. Going digital government implies developing common guidelines and standards that help public sector institutions design and deliver digitally enabled services while consolidating a unified and seamless experience to users (OECD, 2020[2]). This includes actionable guidance and mechanisms to ensure consistency of accessibility of digital services, user engagement, procurement of digital goods and services, and assurance prior and during service development.

In the context of LAC, it is important to distinguish the extent to which regulatory frameworks can effectively equip public sector institutions in the design and delivery of services. Laws and similar regulatory frameworks often define what should be done, as opposed to guidelines and standards that frame how a certain action should be done. In this regard, evidence from the fact-finding meetings with LAC countries indicate that more efforts are needed to translate regulatory frameworks into actionable guidance that effectively support service design and delivery.

Table 4.2 gives a panorama of the availability of at least one written central/federal guideline or standard supporting service design and delivery in surveyed LAC governments. Regarding accessibility, it is the most widespread guideline provided from the central/federal government. In Chile, the Digital Government Division issued guidelines to assist in the design of public sector institutions’ websites adhering to accessibility principles and standards such as W3C.31 In Colombia, MINTIC published similar guidelines that accompany the UI/UX toolkit platform that equip public sector institutions to align institutional branding and website to the GOV.CO standard.32,33 In Costa Rica, MICITT’s National Code for Information Technologies structures guidance on accessibility along with cybersecurity, cloud and interoperability.34 Several other LAC countries have issued similar guidance addressing the technical user-centricity of digital government services, including Paraguay,35 Peru,36 Bolivia,37 the Dominican Republic38 and Brazil.39

In line with existing limited forward-looking approaches to user-driven service design and delivery in LAC governments, only a few countries have consistent guidelines equipping service teams when engaging users in the design and delivery of services. In Colombia, MINITC’s Standard for Service Design40 structures meaningful engagement of users through 11 principles – from identifying and understanding users to continuous improvement practices and feedback loops. This standard is coupled with dedicated guidance to service simplification and rationalisation.41 In Peru, SEGDI issued practical guidance on the same aspects, inspired by the work of OECD countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada42 (Box 4.6). In the same line, in Uruguay AGESIC issued similar guidance inspired by the work of UK’s Government Digital Service.43

Regarding public sector capacities for service transformation, LAC countries have different approaches to address the development of digital public services. As seen in Figure 4.9, most surveyed countries declared having developed internal technical and operational capacities to digitalise government services as well as through specific contracts with external suppliers. In contrast, there is still limited uptake of engagement with GovTech start-ups and entrepreneurs given the level of maturity and range of digital tools and solutions offered by GovTech in LAC (see Chapter 5).

The importance of advancing towards more dedicated mechanisms for the procurement and acquisition of digital technologies can help public sector institutions in LAC to cope with the increasing demand and expectations for digital services and the corresponding need to secure interoperability, coherence and value for money. In line with good practices of OECD countries, LAC governments could consider investing in dedicated capacities and mechanisms that facilitate government institutions to have access to digital goods and services accordingly. In Brazil, the NDGS incorporates specific actions to centralise the procurement of digital technologies as well as plans to develop a dedicated digital marketplace to assist public sector institutions when facing the need to contract external expertise.44 In Jamaica, the public company eGov Jamaica Limited45 offers services to public sector institutions to support their digital transformation processes given the limited existing internal capacities to develop digital transformation projects. In Barbados, the IDB is supporting the government to implement a dedicated GovTech agency to channel the engagement with innovators to digitalise government services.46 Further details about the procurement of digital technologies in the public sector are presented in Chapter 2.

Fostering public-private collaboration is pivotal to establish a healthy ecosystem that enables service transformation. In LAC, only Argentina and the Dominican Republic declare regularly using public-private partnerships (PPPs) to address digital transformation needs, while for most countries such a mechanism is occasionally or almost never used in practice (OECD/CAF, 2022[27]). Despite limited uptake of such mechanisms in LAC, there are examples that can serve as inspiration for a more collaborative governance in the digital transformation of governments. For example, Colombia’s MINTIC has set a dedicated department to promote public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the adoption of digital technologies in the public sector (OECD, 2018[10]; OECD/CAF, 2022[27]). Paraguay has implemented the initiative InnovandoPY to attract best technology solutions bringing together public and private actors (OECD/CAF, 2022[27]). More details about PPPs and examples of similar practices across LAC are presented in the report The Strategic and Responsible Use of AI in the Public Sectors of Latin America and the Caribbean (OECD/CAF, 2022[27]) as well as in Chapter 2 and 5 of this report.

Finally, a whole-of-government omnichannel approach to service design and delivery builds on the premise that public sector institutions can have access to common digital tools and enablers that facilitate effective collaboration and integration in service delivery (OECD, 2020[2]). Along with cost-effectiveness, the benefits of promoting the deployment and use of a comprehensive set of common enablers and tools (e.g. scalability) include coherence and interoperability of institutional efforts to unlock system wide transformation, as outlined in the OECD Digital Government Policy Framework and its dimension Government as a Platform (OECD, 2020[2]).

Digital public infrastructure (e.g. digital payment, digital identity, data sharing and digital notification tools) plays a key role for a fair, trustworthy, inclusive and cost-effective digital transformation of governments. Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine and the earthquake in Türkiye underline the importance of securing digital resilience and sovereignty. Furthermore, proprietary technology can lead to technological lock-ins and silos that undermine governments’ capacity to react effectively and secure operations and services in the digital age. The growing attention to equitable access and development of digital public infrastructure is reflected in the interest to develop reliable, reusable and interoperable digital public goods (González-Zapata and Piccinin-Barbieri, 2021[28]) intended as open-source digital public infrastructure that can be further used, curated and improved across borders and jurisdictions.

In LAC, governments present different levels of maturity when assessing the availability of common tools and enablers (e.g. digital identity or notification systems) between the central/federal and sub-national/local levels. To a higher extent, shared digital infrastructure, technology and cloud services are widely spread across surveyed countries (see Figure 4.10). Global estimates in IT expenditure in the public sector show that governments are increasingly investing in cloud services, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).47 Similar trend is observed in LAC countries, with cloud technologies taking a predominant role in NDGS and investment plans.

Several examples and practices are observed in LAC to strengthen countries’ digital public infrastructure, in particular regarding the development or strengthening of cloud initiatives to migrate from legacy data centres. Argentina is investing USD 5.8M to develop cloud infrastructure to consolidate public sector data.48 Similar efforts are observed in Barbados linked to the development of the national interoperability infrastructure based on X-Road.49,50 Brazil has invested to strengthen its cloud capacity and migrate existing datacentres in the past years as part of the NDGS 2020-2022. The Dominican Republic is developing a private cloud available for the public sector OPTICLOUD51 with particular attention given to security. In Panama52 and Paraguay,53 the respective digital government authorities are developing dedicated cloud infrastructure and computing efforts. Uruguay stands out given the comprehensive cloud policy State Public Cloud in place since 2019 and which includes IaaS, PaaS and SaaS solutions across the public sector (Box 4.7). Many of these efforts are linked to existing efforts to improve data governance and interoperability in the public sector, as extensively described in Chapter 3.

In line with trends in OECD countries to promote and adopt open-source solutions as part of the implementation of digital government strategies (OECD, 2020[3]), most governments in LAC have put in place dedicated policies and initiatives to promote dedicated solutions. In Colombia, MINTIC implements the initiative Open Source, a catalogue of existing reusable solutions to digitalise public sector institutions available across the administration.54 The toolkit includes the interoperability solution X-Road,55 an international digital public good built in Estonia and growingly adopted across different countries. In Argentina, the Secretariat for Public Innovation published in 2022 the new NDGS with the commitment to strengthen the ecosystem of open-source solutions in the country.56 In Peru, SEGDI developed the National Platform for Public Software of Peru (Plataforma Nacional de Software Público del Perú),57 a catalogue in which public sector institutions can request and make available open-source solutions as established in the Supreme Decree No. 051-2018-PCM.58 Similar efforts are observed in Uruguay,59 Brazil,60 Ecuador,61 the Dominican Republic62 Panama63 and Paraguay.64

Beyond digital public infrastructure, service transformation relies on digital solutions that improve the capacity of citizens to operate and interact with digital services in trustworthy ways. Across possible digital solutions, digital notification, citizen folders and digital identity stand out as core digital infrastructure to establish a trusted and convenient experience of users with public service.

Identity verification in the digital space is fundamental for the functioning of the economy, society, and the public sector. As countries increase access to transactional government services online, efforts to build human-centric and comprehensive digital identity systems are essential for digital government maturity (OECD, 2023[31]). Unlike OECD countries, trustworthy, user-centric, and comprehensive digital identity systems are not widely available across LAC governments. In most of the countries, users can create individual accounts with public sector institutions that provide verification to access government services. This restricts the capacity of digital identity solutions to authentication and without sufficient certainty and trust that the individuals are effectively who they say they are, and that given their attributes have access to specific services and/or benefits. Six surveyed countries have some types of digital identity systems in place: Chile,65 Brazil,66 Costa Rica,67 the Dominican Republic,68 Paraguay69 and Uruguay.70 However, the most advanced digital identity system is observed in Uruguay. Building on the longstanding governance, capacity and legitimacy of AGESIC, Uruguay’s digital identity provides authentication and advanced digital signature as opposed to the rest of the solutions in LAC that only enables identity verification. Digital identity has proved to be pivotal for service design and delivery in the digital age, and hence requires solid governance frameworks (institutional capacities, strategies, enabling resources and regulatory frameworks) that create an environment of trust built around users and their needs (OECD, 2019[32]). LAC countries with digital identity solutions still have several issues to address in order to secure robustness and uptake. This includes limited or non-existent legal frameworks for digital identity, limited capacities to understand users and their needs with regard to digital identity solutions, limited communication of existing solutions, limited connectivity, and literacy in specific territories. In this context, the transborder dimension of digital identity gains relevance as regional blocks advance to increase free and trusted flow of data and individuals. This is the case of recent agreements signed by LAC countries to advance cross-border co-operation on digital affairs (Box 4.8) as well as ongoing initiatives to mutually accept digital signature in the context of the GEALC and MERCOSUR blocks.71 Looking ahead, LAC governments could consider strengthening their existing governance systems for digital identity inspired in OECD standards such as the OECD Recommendation of the Council on the Governance of Digital Identity) (OECD, 2023[31]) (Box 4.9).


[13] CAF (2020), Estados ágiles en América Latina: la transformación digital y la simplificación de trámites del sector público de Argentina, Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, https://scioteca.caf.com/bitstream/handle/123456789/1658/PolicyBriefNo21_20201119%20%281%29.pdf.

[28] González-Zapata, F. and M. Piccinin-Barbieri (2021), “Making the leap from e-government to digital government”, in Development Co-operation Report 2021: Shaping a Just Digital Transformation, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/1e7a17e2-en.

[33] Government of Chile (2021), “Acuerdo de Asociación de Economía Digital (DEPA) es aprobado por el Senado y queda listo para ser ley”, https://www.minrel.gob.cl/noticias-anteriores/acuerdo-de-asociacion-de-economia-digital-depa-es-aprobado-por-el.

[25] Government of Colombia (n.d.), Creación de Servicios digitales, https://guias.servicios.gob.pe/creacion-servicios-digitales.

[26] Government of Colombia (n.d.), Guía para el diseño de Servicios Ciudadanos Digitales, https://gobiernodigital.mintic.gov.co/692/articles-179144_Guia_Servicios_Digitales.pdf.

[21] Government of Ecuador (n.d.), Acerca de GobEC, https://www.gob.ec/acerca-gobec.

[30] Government of Paraguay (n.d.), Servicios – Nube PY, https://www.mitic.gov.py/viceministerios/tecnologias-de-la-informacion-y-comunicacion/servicios/nube.

[29] Government of Uruguay (2023), Nube, https://www.gub.uy/agencia-gobierno-electronico-sociedad-informacion-conocimiento/tematica/nube.

[15] Government of Uruguay (2018), Gobiernos subnacionales, https://www.gub.uy/agencia-gobierno-electronico-sociedad-informacion-conocimiento/gobierno-digital/cooperacion-interior.

[24] Government of Uruguay (n.d.), Modelo de Atención a la Ciudadanía - Componentes del Modelo, https://www.gub.uy/agencia-gobierno-electronico-sociedad-informacion-conocimiento/comunicacion/publicaciones/modelo-atencion-ciudadania/modelo-atencion-ciudadania/componentes-del.

[18] IDB (2022), Digitalizing Public Services: Opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, https://doi.org/10.18235/0004543.

[31] OECD (2023), Recommendation of the Council on the Governance of Digital Identity, OECD, Paris, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0491.

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[3] OECD (2020), “Digital Government Index: 2019 results”, OECD Public Governance Policy Papers, No. 03, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/4de9f5bb-en (accessed on 20 October 2021).

[19] OECD (2020), “The Covid-19 crisis: A catalyst for government transformation?”, OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19), OECD, Paris, http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/the-covid-19-crisis-a-catalyst-for-government-transformation-1d0c0788/.

[2] OECD (2020), “The OECD Digital Government Policy Framework: Six dimensions of a Digital Government”, OECD Public Governance Policy Papers, No. 02, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/f64fed2a-en.

[5] OECD (2019), Declaration on Public Sector Innovation, OECD, Paris, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/oecd-legal-0450.

[32] OECD (2019), Digital Government in Chile – Digital Identity, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9ecba35e-en.

[12] OECD (2019), Digital Government in Peru: Working Closely with Citizens, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/0c1eb85b-en.

[11] OECD (2019), Digital Government Review of Panama: Enhancing the Digital Transformation of the Public Sector, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/615a4180-en.

[16] OECD (2018), Digital Government Review of Brazil: Towards the Digital Transformation of the Public Sector, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264307636-en.

[10] OECD (2018), Digital Government Review of Colombia: Towards a Citizen-Driven Public Sector, OECD Digital Government Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264291867-en.

[4] OECD (2014), Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies, OECD, Paris, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0406.

[27] OECD/CAF (2022), The Strategic and Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Public Sector of Latin America and the Caribbean, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/1f334543-en.

[14] OECD et al. (2020), Latin American Economic Outlook 2020: Digital Transformation for Building Back Better, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/e6e864fb-en.

[23] Roseth, B., A. Reyes and C. Santiso (2018), Wait No More: Citizens, Red Tape and Digital Government, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, https://doi.org/10.18235/0001150.

[7] Welby, B. and E. Tan (2022), “Designing and delivering public services in the digital age”, Going Digital Toolkit Note, No. 22, https://goingdigital.oecd.org/data/notes/No22_ToolkitNote_DigitalGovernment.pdf.


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