copy the linklink copied!Assessment and recommendations

Over the last 20 years, digital technologies have arguably become the single most transformational factor of economies and societies. The digital revolution has seen the rise of highly disruptive technologies, such as machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, the internet of things, mobile technologies and incredibly powerful network effects (Ubaldi et al., 2019[1]). As the industrial revolution did for our ability to use physical force to enhance societies’ industrial capability, the digital revolution has exponentially augmented our ability to produce, store, share and process information and data, leading to a dramatic transformation of our species’ analytical and co-ordination capabilities. By progressively embedding ICTs into the physical world, human societies are increasingly able to come up with smart solutions for today’s most pressing challenges.

These new processing capabilities, paired with unprecedented levels of connectivity and its associated network effects, are driving innovation and productivity gains across the economy. They are also transforming citizens’ everyday lives as well as their expectations regarding the public sector and public services (OECD, Forthcoming[2]). These transformations bring about a wide range of new opportunities for more robust policy outcomes and greater social and economic well-being. Indeed, governments’ ability to design sound policies and services will be enhanced by using massive amounts of data and computing power to draw new insights. The ability to develop better policies will also strengthened by enhanced coordination of a great diversity of stakeholders through the interoperability of information systems. These new technologies also allow governments to deliver better and more tailored services at a fraction of the cost, including to remote areas through new mobile applications.

Nevertheless, to seize on the opportunities of the digital revolution governments themselves will have to undergo a significant transformation. Analogue organisations cannot serve digital economies and societies. This will start with a shared vision or strategy with broad ownership and complemented by robust institutional frameworks and the development of the State’s capacity to support the strategy’s implementation. This Digital Government Study looks at Chile’s context, current efforts and the Government needs as it seeks the full transition towards a Digital Government.

This Digital Government Study has also assessed specific strategic content and areas of opportunity that can support the business process transformation of the Chilean public sector in favour of more strategic and system thinking decision-making throughout the public administration.

The framework of reference for formulating the proposals for action is provided by the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies (OECD, 2014[3]), which contains 12 key recommendations that seek to guide policy-makers in the design and implementation of digital government strategies and policies (see Figure 1 below). Together, these key recommendations provide an analytical framework that supports the digital government strategies and technology deployments that foster public value creation.

copy the linklink copied!
Figure 1. Synthesis of principles contained in the Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies
Figure 1. Synthesis of principles contained in the Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies

Source: OECD based on the Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies (OECD, 2014[3])

copy the linklink copied!Governance arrangements: coordinating the design and implementation of a common vision

Chile has made consistent progress in setting up the institutional and governance framework for the successful implementation of digital government. For instance, the creation of the Digital Government Division (DGD) within the Ministry General Secretariat of the Presidency (Ministerio Secretaría General de la Presidencia, MINSEGPRES), providing it with higher political standing and additional resources is at the core of these efforts. In addition, ensuring the participation of Head the DGD in the Committee of the State Modernisation Programme has been instrumental in embedding digital efforts into the broader public sector reform agenda. Finally, the current Government of Chile has pushed forward and ambitious digital transformation agenda, which includes a new Presidential Instructive on the Digital Transformation of the State Administration (Presidente de la República, 2019[4]), a project of a Digital Transformation Law (MINSEGPRES, 2018[5]) and a renewed Digital Transformation Strategy for the Government (MINSEGPRES, 2019[6]).

Despite the progress made, the government has so far found challenges in ensuring the continuity and sustainability of efforts in digital government. Indeed, political cycles and changing administrations have often meant changing directions and priorities on initiatives meaning the full potential has not always been realised.

In addition to insufficient continuity in high-level political orientation of digital government efforts, it has also been challenging for Chile so far to achieve the degree of inter-institutional co-ordination, particularly at the operational level, that effectively translates national digital government strategies into concrete transformation of how government conducts its work. Chile has sought to address this through the creation of a new high-level institutional set-up supporting the steering of the design and implementation of the strategy. However, it seems like the level of technical co-ordination and working groups could be useful to help operationalise the strategy. Finally, it seems like top-down siloed approaches continue to be predominant in the Chilean public sector, requiring efforts in favour of a cultural change. Continuing down the path of recent significant efforts to enhance coordination and synergies will be important to sustain the development of a collaborative, integrated and interoperable public sector.

The design of digital government strategies

The review of the strategy development process across 10 advanced OECD members and partners suggests that governments might benefit from longer deliberative and inclusive approaches as a way of building strong consensus, with shorter and more agile cycles for the development and implementation of action plans based on changing realities. These action plans, however, would benefit from the political steering of the new bodies of governance, the Advisory Council and the Executive Council on State Modernisation.

Despite these important institutional underpinnings helping the government deliver on its digital government strategy, the operational co-ordination between agency CIOs would benefit from being formalised. Indeed, CIO Councils or Committees are often a useful way to find the best way forward in implementing key strategic projects and initiatives. Whilst they foster the sharing of good practices and approaches for improved collaboration it would be valuable to define a methodology for systematising their findings, discussions and learning.

Furthermore, a culture that sustains top-down and siloed approaches seems to still be predominant in the Chilean public sector, which may hinder consensus building. It also undermines that more collaborative and horizontal approaches which support digital, user-driven organisations.

Finally, when compared to 10 advanced OECD countries serving as a benchmark, the lack of collaboration with subnational governments has stood out in Chile. Whereas in most countries used in this benchmark involved local governments in the development of the national digital government strategy, this was not the case in Chile. The level of digitalisation of Chilean municipalities (Alcalá Consultores, 2015[7]) – and the opportunities for digitisation they represent- calls for greater collaboration to help them leapfrog their way forward.

Making it happen: the governance of digital government strategies

The benchmarking of OECD members shows that governments usually leverage two levels of governance to ensure that the digital government strategy is successfully implemented and embedded into public sector operations: (1) a body for strategic co-ordination, and (2) a body for operational co-ordination.

With the creation of the new Executive Council for State Modernisation and its adjacent Advisory Council, Chile has secured a robust strategic co-ordination on digital government. However, following these reforms and with the adoption of the new Digital Transformation Strategy, Chile will need to redefine its operational co-ordination mechanisms.

In addition to the abovementioned need for bringing together Agency CIOs in a formal setting, the operationalisation of the new Digital Transformation Strategy may benefit from technical working groups that help the government address bottlenecks in the implementation of the strategy. These groups are often focused on key technical areas, such as document management, interoperability, digital identity, or service standards.


Under the new Digital Transformation Strategy, the continuity of the oversight and monitoring of the Executive Council for State Modernisation will be critical. In addition to tracking progress, frequent meetings of the State Modernisation Team to assess unmet needs, strategic adjustments needed and resource reallocation will provide the Digital Transformation Strategy with the operational agility that will help it meet international best practices. Indeed, research shows that the most successful digital strategies in major companies review and analyse data, reassess their digital portfolios, review business models and reallocate resources much more frequently than less successful firms (Bughin, Catlin and LaBerge, 2019[8]).

The overall monitoring system of the strategy is robust. Two important areas of improvement have been identified that provide opportunities going forward. First, the ability to collect more granular project data could help strengthen strategic planning and implementation of digital government initiatives, helping co-ordinating bodies and functions to identify early on drivers of project failure and success and progressively build intelligence about ICT project performance.

The second area of opportunity concerns the assessment of the impact of the digital government strategy. Colombia provides an important example of putting in place and progressively perfecting a robust system for assessing the implementation of its digital government strategy in the form of the GEL Index (Índice Gobierno en Línea). This index allowed the central co-ordinating unit to assess and rank the implementation of digital government policies by all public institutions, both at the central and subnational levels of government. The publication of the index helped nudge institutions into compliance and providing incentives for strategic alignment and compliance.

Funding mechanisms

Virtually all countries used to benchmark Chile in this Digital Government Study stressed the strategic importance centralised ICT funds to co-finance strategic projects and create incentives that foster compliance with existing norms, guidelines and digital government objectives established by the strategy. Indeed, such financing tools and funding models are seen as key levers enabling the successful implementation of the strategy.

In this light, it is encouraging that the current Administration is making efforts to provide DGD with additional resources that will allow it to deliver on key strategic projects that can be highly catalytic.

Functional ICT Leadership: linking digital government with broader strategy and policy objectives

The strengthening of the political leadership of DGD was an important step in empowering digital stewardship in government. Furthermore, including the Head of DGD in the Strategic Committee of the Modernisation Programme and its successor, the Executive Council of State Modernisation, marked a clear move towards putting digital at the core of public sector reform and broader public sector strategies. This has provided for a robust strategic alignment in government reform efforts.

However, Chile – as most countries - faces the important challenge in decentralising and scaling up digital leadership. In supporting the emergence of a new kind of public sector leader that will embody the values and character of a digital culture. This will be a critical factor in achieving a whole-of-government approach. In face of a new technological revolution, and its implications for the production of goods and services, it seems like a sensible time to think about a structured approach to nurture and incentivise the kind of leadership the public sector needs to deliver on citizen needs.

Leaders also play a crucial role in the articulation of a clear messaging, helping internal and external stakeholders understand what the administration is trying to achieve. They are also expected to help establish goals citizens can relate to, objectives that are politically sound and can support the government’s broader agenda. This is not a minor challenge, since technical issues can be hard to translate into tangible outcomes for the administration or the users. All of these trends suggest that both senior leadership in public organisations and their chief digital officers would benefit from working closer together.

copy the linklink copied!

Proposals for action

Based on the assessment advanced above, Chile might benefit from considering the following actions:

  • Consider the establishment of a body for the operational co-ordination of the national Digital Transformation Strategy. This new body, composed of agency CIOs, would focus on the technical questions requiring answers in order to achieve successful implementation of the strategy. Furthermore, this operational co-ordination might in turn benefit from the use of dedicated, thematic working groups in areas such as interoperability, digital identity, and service standards, among others.

  • Ensure operational agility of the digital government strategy by leveraging continuous engagement and feedback of key stakeholders. This will help the Executive Council of State Modernisation learn on the go to adjust, reprioritise and reallocate resources to maximise delivery and returns. Moreover, such an approach will support continuous consensus building around the strategy and its approach.

  • Consider strengthening partnerships and collaboration with local governments. Chilean municipalities show uneven, yet generally low levels of digitalisation. Most notably, they have not played a significant role in the development or implementation of digital government strategies in Chile. Given their number and political diversity, transaction costs of developing agreements can prove difficult. An opportunity may lie in working with the national association of municipalities, or a similar federation, as representative of their interest (Asociación de Municipalidades de Chile). Such a dialogue can lead to productive efforts, jointly developed, to create common, open source solutions that municipalities can reuse as a form of accelerating their digitalisation process. These efforts could be linked with the government’s Public Software initiative and efforts in using GitHub and GitLab for collaborative development.

  • Leverage the new Sistema de Evaluación Técnica de Proyectos TIC (Technical ICT Project Evaluation System) to capture increasingly granular ICT project data. This will prove to be a valuable resource not only for the purposes the creation of an ICT Project bank or data repository but, most importantly, to draw insights on the drivers of failure and success of ICT projects, helping the Administration to continuously improve on ICT project management.

  • Look into the development of a digital government implementation index to benchmark public institutions and progressively lay the foundations for an impact evaluation. Consider the development of a digital government index to assess the maturity of public institutions in implementing digital government policies. The index would assess and rank public institutions on a yearly basis, providing evidence of their progress in the implementation of digital government policies, regulations, norms and standards. The publicity of these results creates incentives that can help drive compliance with digital government policy-making through a soft, but powerful lever. In peer countries, the comparative performance has helped align incentives in favour of digital government implementation. Moreover, as these monitoring systems are put in place, it is important to think about the data needed to carry out an impact assessment of digital government policies. In particular, these should consider input, activities, output and outcome data.

  • Consider the establishment of centralised funds to finance strategic ICT projects. Competitive centralised funds provide incentives for public institutions to comply with new standards and guidelines, and to align their efforts with the government’s strategic objectives.

  • Create a structured programme for the development of digital leadership including those outside traditional ICT related roles. This programme could aim at furthering the understanding of senior public sector management of emerging digital technologies and their strategic implications for public organisations. In addition, they could provide a general understanding of new digital tools and ways of working, such as agile, data-driven and collaborative approaches. These programmes would also benefit from fostering closer partnerships and working relations between senior management and the digital teams in their organisation.

  • Partner with the National Direction of the Civil Service to update guidelines for the recruiting of senior managers, including in the technology sector, highlighting the important role of collaboration and engagement with other areas of the administration as a key attribute

  • Partner with the National Direction of the Civil Service to develop and share good practices in hiring for horizontal leadership and digital teams. These should be aimed at empowering HR teams to appreciate, test and hire the right talent for nurturing digital culture and capabilities in the public sector, and establish multidisciplinary teams.

  • Develop awareness campaigns addressed at senior management to sensitise them on the strategic importance of digital government initiatives, how they work and the relevance of a co-ordinated, whole-of-government approach.

copy the linklink copied!Strategic areas for digital government development

In addition to the process of strategy development and its functional role as a governance tool, this study takes a deeper dive into specific strategic areas, and certain trends and themes included in the digital government strategies of the selected and countries for the benchmark.

Start with user needs

Digital government strategies have the distinctive ability to set the public administrations’ goals and priorities when it comes to digitalising government. One of the critical characteristics of digital government is to put the focus on user needs. This change of focus is critical as they encourage and empower digital teams across the public sector not to simply digitalise paper-based procedures, but to focus on process re-engineering.

Several countries have developed design principles, standards, guides and other requirements that provide digital teams with a framework to support service transformation. These tools have been powerful in boosting digital transformation and provide digital teams with a principle-based approach to service design, focusing on user needs first, and empowering them to leave behind obsolete rules that make little sense in the digital age (Bracken and Greenway, 2018; Bracken et al., 2018). Moreover, these tools have helped embed user-driven approaches and the need for user research in national administration, which have not been traditionally commercially incentivised to understand the user experience and respond to their needs.

In Chile, DGD has developed two important guides to support public servants in their digital delivery: a guide to designing web interfaces and a guide for designing digital services.1 Meanwhile, the Laboratorio de Gobierno (Government Lab) has developed a tool that helps public servants to innovate in the public sector.2 This tool lays out how to adopt user-focused approaches in service and process design. It is hard to overstate the relevance of the work of the Laboratorio de Gobierno, DGD and the Modernisation Programme in sensitising public sector organisations to the importance of the user’s experience and their impact on delivering services in ways that are simpler and more effective and that as such increase adoption.

Despite those important steps, Chile has yet to adopt a service standard in the same way other peers have. The experience shows that these standards provide the public sector with a robust framework to decide whether something is good enough to go on the portal or not, thus serving as quality control, in particular when combined with governance frameworks that accelerate adoption.

Data as a strategic asset: towards a data-driven public sector

Today’s digital technologies have drastically increased our ability to capture, store, share and process data to support more robust decision-making. Tools like sensors and technologies of the Internet of Things, paired with big data analytics, machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence are today able to draw insights from massive amounts of data by identifying underlying patterns that could not otherwise be perceived. In a data-driven public sector, governments recognise the importance of data in preparing for the future, designing and delivering policy and services, and managing performance (van Ooijen, Ubaldi and Welby, 2019[9]).

Towards a new public sector data strategy in Chile

Chile’s interest has not lagged behind OECD peers. The Government has put emphasis in strengthening interoperability and promoting digital integration of the public sector to facilitate data sharing and integrated service delivery in the public administration. In addition, Chile has recently launched an initiative on the digitalisation of the civil registry which could have a massive impact on data sharing and data governance in the Chilean public sector and a revamped digital identity for users (OECD, Forthcoming[10]). However, continuous and stronger efforts to improve data governance and management in the country’s public sector would help it prepare for the advent of increasingly sophisticated data-processing capabilities, such as artificial intelligence.

Chile’s push to move to a paperless administration that makes the once only principle effective relies on a number of key digital government infrastructure projects. These initiatives have benefitted from a level of continuity across administrations. As these projects come to maturity, they have the potential of becoming a mission-driven effort that can help drive a significant transformation of public sector operations. These initiatives are critical as they enable the timely access to relevant data by decision-makers.

The decision to make data a critical part of public sector modernisation shows that Chile is aware of the strategic value of data. The question now is how to enable, incentivise and nurture a data-driven culture in the public sector that is ingrained in public sector operations, strategic priorities and policy objectives.

One first challenge for public administrations is to look beyond the hype and develop a problem-driven approach to data investments (Díaz, Rowshankish and Saleth, 2018[11]). Data science skills are scarce and in high demand, making them expensive. To achieve maximum impact, the public sector must allocate its limited resources strategically.

Effective use of data starts by specifying the problem that needs to be solved. The business, policy or strategic questions, not the hype, should drive the data efforts made by the Chilean public sector. The assessment reveals that a more solid data governance in the Chilean public sector would require encouraging and expanding the implementation of data-driven techniques in highly strategic ways through frameworks, incentives, guidance and capacity building.

Another important challenge is embedding a data-driven culture into the fabric of the state. This can only be achieved by stimulating broad demand from senior management and business units.

Unleashing the power of data

The OECD’s 2018 Open Government Data Report shows that a majority of OECD countries have adopted an “open by default” approach to the disclosure of government data in machine-readable formats (OECD, 2018[12]). This means that government data is systematically opened unless issues of privacy, security or other legitimate concerns apply. Chile has yet to reflect this trend as it seeks to enable digital and data-driven innovation in the country.

The OECD’s Open, Useful and Re-usable Data Index, a composite index to monitor OECD members’ efforts to improve data availability, accessibility and re-use, shows that Chile lags behind other peers in open government data implementation. The government of Chile might benefit from efforts to strengthen all three dimensions, with a particular emphasis on data availability and efforts to foster data re-use.

The launching of renewed efforts on Open Government Data by the Government of Chile provides an opportunity to ensure that robust frameworks are put in place, important between open government data and broader data governance and management are identified. It would also provide the public sector an opportunity to prioritise data efforts and investments in terms of data capacity (skills, infrastructure, standards) and identification of high-value datasets.

copy the linklink copied!Building capabilities for delivery

Digitalisation is shaping the future of work, requiring new skills in every sector and industry (Chui, Manyika and Miremadi, 2015[13]; Manyika and al, 2017[14]). Government does not escape this fact. In most cases, decades of outsourcing ICT project delivery and maintenance weakened the public sectors’ digital capabilities. The digital revolution is only starting and is likely to accelerate. In face of this reality, Chile must put in place structured efforts to reskill, upskill and acquire new talent in order to realise its digital vision.

The Government of Chile is preparing to launch its new Digital Academy, an e-learning platform providing civil servants with online courses on strategic areas for the digital transformation of government, such as service design, data science, cybersecurity, technological trends among other. While this is an important part of upskilling civil servants, these activities, on their own, will likely not have the scope or scale needed to respond to the challenge of the digital age.

It is important for the Government of Chile to clearly differentiate between the talent and skills that it may need to acquire externally, and the capabilities it can build internally with existing staff. ICT project managers can be retrained to identify digital opportunities and use agile or DevOps methodologies instead of waterfall project management relatively easily. However, highly specialised areas, such as data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence or even human-centred design require very specific skillsets, backgrounds and experience that can be difficult to transfer (Bughin, 2018[15]). Furthermore, skills in these areas are scarce and in high demand, introducing significant challenges to ensuring this foundational contributor to a successful digital transformation programme.

One important consideration for the Chilean public sector is to encourage informal collaboration between those in similar digital professions or with similar interests in transforming government. Cross government networks of product managers, designers, user researchers, engineers and technical architects that share the work they’re doing and support one another in their professional development can play an important role in augmenting formal efforts to build capability. These networks should be open to anyone with an interest in the area and prioritise the sharing of experience with regular meetups. In this way, Chilean public servants will build a sense of shared mission that crosses organisational boundaries and helps to mitigate the risks associated with working in siloes.

The experience in OECD countries underlines the importance of empathy and engagement skills with external stakeholders to enable a user-driven culture and public administration. These collaborative skills help senior managers and civil servants better grasp user needs, even if it means challenging common assumptions, by focusing on outcomes and the co-design of solutions and policies with end-users. Moreover, with the growing role of data, data science and machine learning capabilities are becoming critical areas of expertise for drawing insights on public policy and service design and delivery.

copy the linklink copied!Adopting ICT commissioning approaches to transform the public sector

The development of digital government happens in part because of the contribution suppliers make in deploying new technologies to and delivering for the public sector. As a result, one of the most significant levers for impacting the transformation of government is the commissioning of digital, data and technology goods and services.

The commissioning of ICT can drive coherence, interoperability, resource sharing and the overall co-ordination of digital government implementation. A comprehensive, holistic and strategic approach to public sector commissioning of ICTs can foster openness, user-driven approaches, efficiency and digital integration of the public sector.

Strategies for ICT procurement

In Chile, the public procurement authority, ChileCompra, in collaboration with the DGD of MINSEGPRES has issued a directive that provides guidance for public institutions to effectively manage issues such as the formulation of technical requirements, the risk of vendor lock-in, threats of information security, risks related to the continuity of public services, as well as threats against free competition (ChileCompra, 2015[16]).

In addition, ChileCompra has developed a digital marketplace with framework agreements which aims to simplify the process of ICT acquisition. Currently, these agreements allow the Chilean Administration to procure hardware and software, data centres and related services.

Moreover, the DGD will play a growing role in the transformation of ICT procurement. Through its consulting activities, the development of tailored solutions and the development and operations of shared ICT services, as well as reviewing the existing frameworks for ICT projects and requiring shorter agreement periods and a focus on project outcomes rather than time procured, DGD will be increasingly able to influence public sector ICT commissioning and acquisitions.

Some of the current challenges faced by Chilean public authorities in the implementation of ICT projects in the public sector include the scarcity of the skills required to manage ICT projects for agile delivery, insufficient guidelines on the procurement of ICTs and insufficient user engagement and research in the formulation of ICT projects and the structuring of provider contracts (OECD, 2017[17]). The legal and regulatory framework for public procurement and weak inter-institutional co-ordination are also perceived to be outstanding obstacles for effective ICT project implementation (OECD, 2017[17]).

Structure contracts that respond to user needs

A user-driven administration must ensure that government effort and investment starts from an understanding of user needs. If the administration does not understand users’ needs, there’s a good chance that it will not deliver the right things. Procurement-led approaches have failed to develop a deep understanding of what users need and therefore how digital, data and technology products or services can best be deployed and, consequently, do not deliver strategic, efficient or effective results. Procurement-led initiatives can also lead to a closed shop of a relatively small number of generally larger suppliers with long-term contracts (OECD, 2017[18]).

Despite the successes of Chile’s efforts to modernise ICT project governance and management, there is still room for improvement in terms of mechanisms that help embed user needs into project formulation, management and delivery.

Procuring technology based on existing assets

The OECD Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies (OECD, 2014[3]) calls on governments to procure digital technologies based on an assessment of existing assets. However, OECD member states generally lack a sufficiently comprehensive view of their digital, ICT and data assets and their respective lifecycle. Chile has in place a repository of ICT contracts that is searchable by all citizens but Chile is also in the group of OECD members that lack a database of ICT assets in the public sector or of previous supplier performance available to public institutions. This prevents data-driven analysis to support strategic decision making in ICT procurement.

Openness as a source of transformation for ICT commissioning

Open Standards3 play a significant role in the transformation of commissioning, as does the championing of open source software and collaborative coding. By reducing the power of software suppliers and diminishing the impact of vendor lock-in whilst encouraging greater involvement of national, and international, developer communities, government is able to reuse existing solutions, unlock opportunities for innovation.

The restructuring of Chile’s DGD, its new mandate and increased capability provides a great opportunity to revitalise the country’s public software (Software Público) initiative. The public software initiative sought to develop open source applications that could be re-used and tailored by different parts of the Chilean public sector, however its adoption and the number of solutions available remain relatively limited. The use of open standards and open source solutions by the DGD, making solutions publicly available through the website can help Chile accelerate and strengthen the quality of public sector digitalisation relatively quickly. This initiative has clear synergies with the growing use of GitHub and GitLab by the DGD as means of collaborative development.

These efforts seem particularly interesting in providing support to the digitalisation of Chilean municipalities which often lack resources and the technical capabilities to maximise these opportunities. Municipalities are an important component of the digital ecosystem of citizens and businesses, and because of their responsibility for similar services they can benefit from sharing and reusing existing solutions made available through open source or shared ICT services.

Developing a robust business case for ICT projects

Recommendation 9 of the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies (OECD, 2014[3]) identifies the development and common use of a clear business case methodology as critical in preventing ICT project failures. ICT business cases solidify government decision-making when it comes to carrying out a project and lay out key variables for its effective management (OECD, 2018[19]). ICT business cases formulate projects and their rationale, ensure the strategic alignment of the initiative, and provide a detailed assessment of their risks and benefits. They clarify the linkages between the investment proposed and the governments’ broader strategic objectives. As such, business cases are built upon an understanding of a problem, of organisational strategic and operational objectives, and a theory of change to which the project contributes.

While Chile has yet to develop a full business case methodology for ICT projects, it has made important improvements in enhancing the assessment of the value proposition of large ICT projects. The new ICT Project Technical Evaluation System established a process for ICT projects to be approved based on an assessment of total public value and a more complete consideration of its costs (total cost of ownership is considered for the latter). The methodology is applied to all ministries to ensure more robust project planning and structuring to improve investment decisions. In 2019, 554 projects were assessed for a total amount of USD 216 million. This initiative was led by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with MINSEGPRES.

However, it is important that any business case methodology is enforced, and allows for use alongside agile development practices in responding to the iterative evolution of a project such that the document does not become a bureaucratic hurdle and remains a dynamic and useful management tool throughout the process (OECD, 2018[19]).

copy the linklink copied!Digital inclusion

Connectivity and access to information and communications technology in Chile performs satisfactorily in comparative terms. It stands above the LAC and OECD averages in terms of share of the population using the internet and mobile subscriptions per 100 people. Given the diverse and complex geographic reality of the country this represents an outstanding feat and provides a robust basis for the development of digital government. However, what the data also seems to suggest is that there is a gap in terms of the population that has access to the internet and the number of individuals who choose to transact with the public sector digitally. Chile’s National Survey of Socioeconomic Characterisation (Encuesta de Caracterización Socioeconómica Nacional, CASEN) finds that 30.8% of the population used the internet to complete a government procedure over the last year (MIDESO, 2017[20]).

Notwithstanding the levels of connectivity achieved, the Government of Chile has made an important push to continue to expand and modernise digital infrastructure, laying the foundations for the digital transformation of the economy and society. This is sensible, especially in consideration of the fact that Chile currently lags behind peer countries in terms of broadband penetration, which hinders the country’s ability to effectively design, deploy and use sophisticated digital services.

The development of digital skills is also a crucial element of digital inclusion. As it has been mentioned before in this report, the pace of technological change can be expected to accelerate. Ensuring the Chilean population has access to the required skills is fundamental to ensure the country is prepared for the transformations ahead. The Digital Agenda 2020 put an important focus on the upcoming generation, taking measures to improve digital capabilities of teachers and students in schools. However, changes in the economy are bound to rapidly change the skills in demand in the labour market. As such, the Country might benefit from a comprehensive plan to promote continuous upskilling and reskilling of workers to help them develop the digital skills they need in a rapidly changing economy.

Finally, another important point in Chile’s digital government agenda is encouraging use and adoption of digital government services. Despite the Government’s efforts to digitalise public services, usage remains relatively low in the country. The Government of Chile is looking for ways of ensuring more inclusive digital service delivery for example, through the provision of self-service kiosks at ChileAtiende locations where people can access 15 procedures with the support of an agent. In the 2018 pilot phase, 220 000 transactions were carried out in 39 locations with the plan being to reach 105 in 2019.

copy the linklink copied!Digital strategy and public sector innovation for improved public service delivery: what relations between the two agendas?

Public sector innovation is to a large extent an emerging sector. Most OECD countries do not have a national public sector innovation strategy. Even within the selected countries for the benchmark, only 40% have in place a national public sector innovation strategy or policy. Today, public sector innovation occurs mostly through ad-hoc structures and initiatives.

In Chile, the Laboratorio de Gobierno was created as a government innovation unit that explores and tests new solutions for outstanding policy problems and as an institution responsible for fostering innovation in the public sector. These solutions may at times entail digital initiatives or areas that fall under the competence of the DGD. However, most of the scope of digital government cross-institutional services and policy-making falls clearly under the responsibility of DGD. In addition, MINSEGPRES – home of DGD - sits at the Directive Council of the Laboratorio de Gobierno which helps ensure coherent and collaborative approach.

The DGD and the Laboratorio de Gobierno have a history of successfully collaborating together and should continue to work together to develop common approaches and strategies for diagnosing and addressing problems.

Proposals for action

Based on the assessment advanced above, Chile might benefit from considering the following actions:

  • Consider the development of a service standard and overarching design principles, guides and other requirements that provide teams with a framework to implement service transformation. These tools have proven to be effective in shifting the focus to user needs, helping public organisations leave behind obsolete rules that make little sense in the digital age (Bracken and Greenway, 2018; Bracken et al., 2018).

  • Adopt a wide and complementary mix of user research techniques. These should include background research of existing literature and practices, quantitative and digital/data-driven approaches, ethnographies, focus groups and simple conversations with service end-users. The idea is to create a thorough categorisation of users, their backgrounds and their service journeys (following them from start to finish in accessing and completing a service). User research approaches aim to gain a better grasp of their experience of the service, the difficulties that may arise and foster empathy. The project lead should not make assumptions about the user, but experience his or her journey, while remembering that what users ask for is not always what they need or want.

  • User research would benefit from considering both primary and secondary users. Primary users are those closest to day-to-day relationships (i.e. digital teams), whereas secondary users are those helping deliver the value (i.e. procurement and commercial teams).

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy and/or policy for public sector data and its chain value. This data policy would be made robust by covering:

    • Data governance. Establishing an authority responsible for developing and co-ordinating an overall strategy for public sector data, identifying key data assets and gaps, establish standards for data management, strengthening the overall data value chain for the public sector. It would also help the public sector build data processing capabilities and feedback loops aimed at improving public sector performance, delivery and forecasting abilities.

    • Public sector data assets and data sharing. Support the identification of public sector data assets, registries and interoperability nodes, and help conceive their governance and data sharing architecture to protect sensitive data. The framework, supported by the new data authority, would be designed to foster data sharing within the public sector, starting with the areas that would be most impactful in terms of public sector efficiency and digital innovation.

    • Data security and privacy. Ensure the highest standards in terms of data security and privacy in public sector operations. Ensure users have as much control over their data as possible, considering measures such as data portability. In addition, aim to design mechanism for consent of data use that are clear and easy to understand. The design of consent mechanism should avoid broad brush strategies, allowing the user to specifically highlight for what purposes he consents his data be used for, while providing the user with the opportunity to decline providing consent for the use of his or her data for other ends.

    • Data infrastructure. Work with all relevant authorities in the development of a data infrastructure development strategy and investment framework, helping public institutions leverage their economies of scale to develop shared infrastructure and services that strengthen the public sector data initiatives with an eye on future developments (i.e. greater role of algorithms and artificial intelligence).

    • Data skills in the public sector. As the digital revolution takes hold and continues to evolve, the public workforce will require a new set of skills. The civil service of the future will have to be increasingly data savvy. As such, the Chilean sector might benefit from a revision of public sector competency frameworks and job profiles considering the public sector present and future data needs and pair it with a strategy to develop, attract and retain such skills.

    • Demonstrate the value of data for business units and operations by working with them to improve their performance and operations. These efforts should acknowledge the contribution of business units and operations as to ensure that demand for data-driven approaches scales up and takes root in the core of the business of government.

    • Deploy data-driven efforts strategically to tackle clearly defined policy or operational problems. Efforts to use data science for decision and policy-making should be focused, driven by a clear objective and using fit-for-purpose tools. Consider high impact interventions, such as predictive infrastructure maintenance.

    • Make public sector data open by default. The public sector has a major role to play in the creation of a data environment and ecosystem that is conducive to digital and data-driven innovation. The data suggests that Chile would benefit from a more robust open data strategy and policy that improves data access, but puts a particular emphasis on data availability and government efforts to promote data reuse within and outside of government as a source and driver of innovation. At the same time, these efforts would benefit from collaborative approaches that focus on solving specific and relevant policy problems.

  • Impact assessment methodology. In the medium term, Chile might be interested in developing an impact assessment methodology that can help it identify where to concentrate its efforts to achieve the highest possible impact of its policies in public sector performance and the general public’s well-being

  • New competency frameworks for digital government authorities that reflects the relevance of collaboration in effective delivery. This framework would be most impactful if used for regular performance appraisals.

  • Develop a strategy for upskilling, reskilling and attracting new talent. For that, the Government of Chile must first identify which skills can be effectively learned by existing staff, and which require very specific backgrounds and skills. For the latter, a tailored approach or framework to attract them might be needed in order to quickly build capabilities in the public sector.

  • Review recruitment frameworks to ensure they support the public sector’s talent development capabilities. In particular, these frameworks should test candidates for relevant skills and allow the public administration to make decisions and offers relatively quickly.

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy of ICT investments and procurement

    • Work collaboratively with the Chilean procurement authority (ChileCompra), private stakeholders, CIOs and project managers from all levels of government in identifying the key problems with the current context of government ICT procurement, determine what areas require regulatory or legal reform, and work on a new framework for ICT procurement.

  • Procure technology based on an assessment of existing assets and procurement intelligence. For this, the Government of Chile should systematically capture data of its ICT procurement processes, including delivery, performance and benefit realisation.

    • Develop a database of government ICT assets and procurement performance. Working with the Chilean public procurement authority, build a database with all key government digital assets, including contracts, service agreements, infrastructure. Think of including the lifecycle of assets, supplier performance and benefit realisation of projects. Automate data collection.

    • Establish an automated system of data analytics to support public procurement intelligence. Work on the development of a system of analytics that can be used to identify important variables and trends, and inform public procurement processes.

  • Design procurement methods and contracts that support delivery and meet users’ needs.

    • Use agile, incremental and iterative approaches. Introduce procurement arrangements and contracts that provide digital teams with the flexibility to work using agile development, enabling re-prioritisation and iterations. This implies making sure that research, prototyping and testing activities are included in the contract and budget, and that they are used in particular to answer key design questions.

    • Consider the use of performance and challenge-based procurement, which provides public institutions with the opportunity to appraise the ability of the vendor to deliver on institutional expectations.

    • Study the usefulness of modular contracting to workout iterations. Modular contracting is a procurement strategy that breaks up large and complex ICT projects into smaller, well-defined and tightly-scoped projects to implement technology in successive, interoperable increments.4 This contracting strategy also helps mitigate the risk of vendor lock-in or excessive dependence and encourages delivery.

    • Reflect about the use of open standards and open source software. Open standards have proven an effective tool in levelling the playing field, developing robust and fair criteria for public sector digital systems, and encouraging competition and innovation in technology acquisition and deployment. Furthermore, the use of open source software allows for collaborative development, tapping on external talent to develop software, and enables public institutions to share their code with other national and international institutions for them to reuse or improve.

    • Leverage the potential of open source software to help drive the digitalisation of municipalities. Work together with a representative from municipalities to decide on and prioritise the development of solutions that can be reused by municipalities to help drive the digitalisation of local government processes and procedures.

    • Leapfrog on the back of good international experiences. A number of digitally advanced countries have made important efforts in ICT commissioning reform. The United Kingdom’s Digital Marketplace provides valuable experience in the use of open source, cloud based software, capability sourcing and outcomes focused commissioning to aggregate demand, make procurement more transparent and open, and bring down costs. The U.K. Digital Service Standard has also been a driving force of transformation in the United Kingdom and beyond. The U.S. Digital Service’s playbook, and 18F’s Modular Contracting Toolkit have done a lot to reform technology deployment and delivery in the United States. Digital innovation case studies provided by the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) may also assist sparking ideas and replicating successes from other countries5. Many existing tools and resources may also be adapted to fit the context in needs in Chile, which can be found in OPSI’s Toolkit Navigator6.

  • Focus on the digital skills of the population at large by continuing to modernise digital infrastructure, championing digital tools in the education process and developing programmes for upskilling and reskilling the working age population. This becomes particularly necessary as the pace of technological change accelerates and the breadth and depth of disruption touches all industries.

  • Make the usage of government services easy. The digital transformation of government must consider the accessibility of the service for populations with special needs. The actions listed below would considerably improve the appeal of dealing with the Chilean public administration digitally, rather than losing time and money to complete a procedure through alternative channels.

    • Focus on improving end-to-end user experience for a standardised, seamless and easy to understand experience.

    • Focus on government-wide identity management to facilitate the user’s interactions with government by bringing down complexity and facilitate data management. This will also allow the Government to have an integrated view of the user, enabling public authorities to deliver more tailored services.

    • Focus on government-wide data management to simplify procedures and improve public service performance.

  • Nudge users to use digital channels. For instance, a thoughtfully designed communication campaign highlighting the time and money savings of digital services over in-person transactions can help drive use. An additional way of incentivising use is to provide promotional offers were services are marginally cheaper through digital channels. Temporary deductions in the cost of services would not only help drive the use of digital channels, but allow the user to get familiar with digital transactions and the digital government environment, making it more likely for the user to use the same channel next time around.

  • Ensure collaborative approaches and shared strategies between the Laboratorio de Gobierno and the DGD. The DGD and the Laboratorio de Gobierno have a history of successful collaborative work, for instance in the case of improving the user experience of ChileAtiende. What these successful collaborations have in common, is the determination to develop a shared approach and strategy for diagnosing and addressing the problem. These units can build on those experience to develop future interventions together.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2019

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at

Assessment and recommendations