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Govtech Startups to Implement Open Government

Startups Govtech para implementar Gobierno Abierto

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Enrique Zapata|

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) works to promote the principles of innovation, collaboration, transparency and accountability as a new model of multi-sectoral, collaborative and accountable governance.

The OGP action plans, through which civil society and governments work to design and implement concrete public policy commitments, are key tools in this process. OGP has made significant strides to increase the level of ambition of these commitments, as the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) assesses governments on the development and implementation of OGP action plans.

A key aspect of the success of these programs is the quality of implementation, which is a critical stage in the public policy cycle. This will ensure that governments achieve good results on IRM reports.

The implementation of these action plans comes with important challenges compared to the design of these initiatives, because while the latter activity falls on specific actors in government and civil society, the implementation of each commitment is transferred to different areas and people within the government, diluting responsibilities and incentives to provide effort. These areas, in turn, need three factors to implement these actions successfully: i) High-level political commitment and understanding of the open government agenda, ii) technical and human resource capacities, and iii) financial resources.

In this context, the Govtech ecosystem presents an alternative to approach the implementation stage, building a new type of public-private alliances that involve the private sector and impact investors in the effective delivery of the open government agenda.

Govtech as an implementation mechanism

Since 2019, CAF (Development Bank of Latin America) has promoted Govtech as the ecosystem where governments and startups collaborate to use data intelligence, digital technologies and innovative methodologies to solve public problems.

To enable this new space, various governments develop programs to facilitate the work of their teams with govtech startups. These govtech programs are the ones that enable the implementation of public policies and value in the priority areas of open government, for example:

  • Corruption: the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness works to identify risks of corruption in contracting.
  • Gender: MediCapt uses data, encryption, and cybersecurity mechanisms to reveal patterns of large-scale sexual violence.
  • Civic Space: Visor Urbano, in Guadalajara, Mexico, supports the improvement in territorial management and tax collection with cadastre data and digitalization of procedures.
  • Justice: Datasketch developed the Observatory of Memory and Conflict to integrate data on the armed conflict as a contribution to the processes of building truth and memory in Colombia.

Uniting the Govtech and Open Government Agendas

For Open Government strategies, Govtech programs are by themselves a commitment to be included in the Action Plans, at the same time they allow finding agile, quality and low-cost solutions for the implementation of the Action Plans, and that triggers a policy of economic development focused on MSMEs with high added value.

To reach this vision, we propose three concrete actions for the short and medium terms:

  1. Include Govtech commitments within the National Action Plans,
  2. Promote dialogue between civil society and the private sector, to detonate a robust and participatory ecosystem, and
  3. Link these types of commitments with financing schemes that allow a sustainable implementation of govtech and open government policies in the long term.

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