9.1. Designing and delivering inclusive and user-driven public services

Public services represent the most common interactions that people, businesses and organisations have with governments. Putting users at the centre of the design and delivery of public services can improve resource allocation and provide services that respond more effectively to users’ needs and expectations. This can also positively affect satisfaction and trust with governments (OECD, 2022a). The adoption and use of public service standards can help public sector institutions to take a common and consolidated approach to designing and delivering services across institutional boundaries, giving users a more unified experience when they access public services through different channels (online or offline).

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are adopting standards to define a common approach when designing and delivering government services. Six out of seven surveyed countries have developed a service standard (86%), compared to 85% of OECD countries (28 out of 33) (Figure ‎9.1). The standards in both LAC and OECD countries have similar purposes and scopes. In all six of the LAC countries with service standards, they cover the requirement to understand user needs or expectations, which is also the case in 76% of OECD countries. They are less frequently used to facilitate cross-border services between countries, since only two out of the six surveyed LAC countries with standards and 30% of OECD countries include this requirement. Similarly, only two LAC countries and 33% of OECD countries use standards to encourage greening efforts among public sector teams and their suppliers (Table ‎9.1).

To better meet user needs and expectations, governments in the LAC region could make greater efforts to employ service design and user research methods to effectively involve users while designing government services. Less than half of the surveyed LAC countries have adopted methods facilitating a deeper understanding of user needs. Just three LAC countries each use design thinking sessions, focus groups, public consultation through websites and usability testing. A similar pattern is observed among OECD countries except for usability tests, which are adopted by 61%. Only two of the seven countries have embraced A/B testing (compared to 18% of OECD countries) and first-click testing (used by only 9% of OECD countries) (Figure ‎9.2).

Data were collected through the OECD Survey on Digital Government 2.0, which was designed to monitor the implementation of the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Digital Government Strategies and assess countries’ progress towards a human-centric and whole-of-government digital transformation of public processes and services. Survey data will be used to compile the OECD Digital Government Index.

The data presented in this section correspond to an initial analysis of the information collected through the survey which was launched in November 2022. They contain responses from 33 OECD countries, including 4 LAC OECD countries (Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico), and 3 accession LAC countries (Argentina, Brazil and Peru). Survey respondents were senior officials in central and federal governments, who were leading and/or implementing digital government reforms, and who gathered data from different parts of the public sector as relevant.

Public services standards are a set of principles that provide a shared definition for the quality and behaviours associated with public service design and delivery.

A/B testing is a user experience testing technique based on the comparison between two versions of the same product or service.

First-click testing is a testing method for websites, apps or platforms that examines the "first click" users make when interacting with the system, to evaluate how intuitively the design guides users to start tasks effectively.

Usability testing is a testing technique based on the evaluation of a system by its users, ensuring effectiveness and efficiency, and measuring the degree to which the system is adapted to their needs.

Further reading

OECD (2022a), Building Trust to Reinforce Democracy: Main Findings from the 2021 OECD Survey on Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions, Building Trust in Public Institutions, OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/b407f99c-en.

OECD (2022b), "OECD Good Practice Principles for Public Service Design and Delivery in the Digital Age", OECD Public Governance Policy Papers, No. 23, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/2ade500b-en.

OECD (2020), "The conceptual framework", in Digital Government in Chile – Improving Public Service Design and Delivery, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/d4498e23-en.

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