Q&A  | 

Daniel Abadie, e-governance expert

"Mi Argentina’ is the digital profile of a citizen in which the ID, driver's license and health records are available, all with legal validity."

Tags: 'Brecha digital' 'Gobierno digital' 'gobierno e' 'Innovación pública' 'Transformación digital'

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Daniel Abadie is an expert in digital transformation of the public sector. As the Assistant Secretary of Digital Government for Argentina (2015 - 2019) he led, designed and implemented the Mi Argentina platform, the single domain website Argentina.gob.ar, the virtual assistant for maternity and early childhood Chat Crecer and the National Plan for Digital Inclusion. In 2019, he was chosen by Apolitical as one of the 20 most influential people in digital government in the world.

Can you give us an overview of your work as former Assistant Secretary of Digital Government for the Republic of Argentina?

For the last 4 years as the former Assistant Secretary of Digital Government I have been responsible for carrying out the digital strategy of Argentina, being responsible for the national digital platform (websites, mobile applications and digital services) and the National Digital Inclusion Plan, which is mainly focused on reducing the Internet access gap.

What do the terms digital government and people-centered transformation refer to?

Historically we talked about e-government, this being focused on becoming paperless with digital signatures and electronic processes. Digital government is the next stage, where the focus is to redesign services that focus on the needs of citizens and not what public bodies believe citizens need.

Digital government is the next stage, where the focus is to redesign services that focus on the needs of citizens and not what public bodies believe citizens need.

Today, the challenge that public organizations face is to provide accessible, inclusive, simple and easy services to their citizens. Implementing a digital government strategy allows us to go through this transition.

What advantages does the digitalization of a government represent for the population of a country?

The main objective is to provide better services for citizens. The main advantage comes with digitizing the processes, eliminating redundancies, simplifying them, making them accessible and useful. For the government it also represents an opportunity to improve interaction, reduce costs and have real-time information on the services they provide.

For the government it also represents an opportunity to improve interaction, reduce costs and have real-time information on the services they provide.

What are the main pillars of the digitalization of a country’s government?

Defining the digital strategy focused on the needs of the end user, building an internal team that executes it and the political decision to do so.

Daniel Abadie

And what were the big challenges in the case of Argentina?

We had to build everything from scratch, since there was no unified digital strategy in 2015. So the first challenge was to build the infrastructure of websites, web services, and platforms to mount the services. The main challenge without doubt is to negotiate with each area, despite having political power, so that they will join our platform. The great enemy of digital government is the “ego of the State.”

The great enemy of digital government is the “ego of the State.”

When we talk about digitalization or digital transformation we also talk about data. What has been the role of data in the digitalization strategy of your team? What have been the main challenges that have arisen in this area?

My team did not carry out the open data project. Our focus was first to guarantee the privacy of information of our services. We worked together with the Agency of Access to Public Information of Argentina to guarantee the correct management of the personal information. And second, the data was a necessary input for our user experience team to investigate, measure and propose changes in our services.

A digitalized society and government require access of the population to the necessary technology. Is there this access in Argentina? How is it encouraged?

In Argentina there are 60 million mobile phone lines, but we are still a country with internet access problems. We are promoting the National Connectivity Plan, with the aim of incorporating 2 million homes by 2019 with internet and connecting 2300 districts to our optical fiber network.

In every country there is a digitally illiterate group of population, known as the digital gap, that governments must take into account to avoid their exclusion. How does Argentina face this phenomenon?

We created the National Digital Inclusion Plan where we offer classroom courses in 167 cities teaching people to use the Internet. The tutors were university students from each city who received a stimulus scholarship for their tasks as tutors. In 2 years we trained more than 400 thousand people.

The tutors were university students from each city who received a stimulus scholarship for their tasks as tutors. In 2 years we trained more than 400 thousand people.

What is the most demanded service in Argentina.gob.ar?

Argentina.gob.ar is the portal that provides information on the entire national administration. In 4 years it has had 123 million visits and 934 million page views. Our most used service is Mi Argentina, with 3.2 million daily active users. Mi Argentina is the digital profile of the citizen and in the mobile application they have legal access and use of their ID, driver’s license, health records and other documents.

Argentina.gob.ar is the portal that provides information on the entire national administration. In 4 years it has had 123 million visits and 934 million page views.

According to the World Economic Forum, Argentina is in recession today with a 2.5% decrease in GDP. Why is this investment of digitalization justified in times of recession?

First it is a very low investment. It does not take much capital to create a digital services team. Second, our technology is all open source, which makes it reusable. And third, the digitalization and the providing of efficient services is one of the ways to actually reduce the deficit of the State.