Why we’re so impressed by Argentina’s digital services team

In an office in Buenos Aires you can find one of the fastest growing, hardest working, and most ambitious government teams we have ever met.

Set up in December 2015 as part of President Macri’s new Ministry of Modernisation, the 70-strong digital services team has done an enormous amount of work on several very important projects.

They are led by Daniel Abadie, Under Secretary of Digital Government and former head of LABgcba in the City of Buenos Aires (which won a Webby Award for the Buenos Aires city map project). He’s a capable, charismatic man who has done an incredible job of backing and supporting his team as they work so hard and so fast. (Spanish speakers among you should check out his TED talk, “Minimum viable government”.)

What’s this government team achieved in 3 years? I’m glad you asked.

Building a single domain website

argentina.gob.arA screenshot of argentina.gob.ar

The new website at argentina.gob.ar is excellent. It sticks to the “simpler, clearer, faster” concept very closely, and in our opinion has some of the best Spanish language content design we have seen. The team takes content design very seriously, and it shows. (Take look at this page of guidance about emergency phone numbers, or this page about medical vaccinations to see what we mean.)

There are standards, APIs, good documentation, and a library of resuable design patterns – the latter built using a Bootstrap-based template kit called Poncho which has already been used by many other government transactions.

They have closed down about 500 separate government websites. They plan to close down 500 more before the end of this year.

In just 3 months, they built a platform called MiArgentina which, among other things, provides a notification system which can trigger messages like “Your driving licence is about to expire, here’s how to renew it.” It recently reached 2.4 million users.

All of that sounds like plenty to do in less than 3 years. But that’s not even half of it.

Transforming 780 business services

While doing all that work to create a new website, an associated team have been busy digitising all the government services for businesses. Over 780 of them so far, with more being added daily. They plan to complete all 1,400 business related government services in short order.

These services use similar design patterns and templates to the single domain, so if people have learned how one Argentina’s digital service works, they’re well on the way to learning how they all work.

¡Buena suerte!

We spent 3 days working closely with the team in their offices near the Casa Rosada, the President’s seat of Government. We were very impressed.

argentina-teamThe team having a retrospective, which they they wrote up and published (Spanish – here’s a Google Translation into English)

We are hugely impressed by the scale and scope of this team’s delivery and ambition. They have been working incredibly hard. They are a credit to Argentina, and the minister they work for, Andres Ibarra.

There are challenges ahead before the next elections in 2019, not least the harmonisation of the various modernisation teams and improved communication to users.

Great work, team Argentina. ¡Buena suerte! We’re cheering you on.

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