What happens when you put four lawyers and an engineer in the same room? It sounds like the start of a riddle, but it’s not. It is what is happening right now in one of the Colombian government teams. They are bringing together people from different disciplines, who never considered themselves colleagues, and got them working working side by side. The result looks like transformation to us.
A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. It’s a huge and vibrant city, an amalgam of bricks and mountains. I was there for a short but exciting 2-day trip, and an opportunity (thanks to our friends at the Inter-American Development Bank) to meet with the digital government team and their network of CIOs from various agencies. They showed me the great work they are doing, especially with GOV.CO. And I shared with them some of Public Digital’s experiences around the world.
Over the last year, Colombia has taken some great steps towards digital government:
- digital transformation was declared as a key priority,
- the brilliant Sylvia Constain was appointed as Minister of Information Technology and Communication (the ministry known in Colombia as MinTIC)
- and they have a mandate to create GOV.CO as government’s single domain website
A great start for sure.
The visit took place during Colombia 4.0, a huge event organized by MinTIC. It’s a festival of people from many industries: fintech, technology, games and multimedia among them. About 49,000 people registered, many of them enviably young. But perhaps it was just the city’s 2,600 meters of altitude, that made me feel a little odd and older.
I presented on the CIO Summit track, that brought together 130 CIOs from at least 80 different agencies, from the central and local government. It was a great opportunity to motivate all those responsible for making this transformation effective across government.
The image says a lot. It symbolizes the government’s current transition: gradually, they are becoming more transparent to citizens, from the inside out. Things are getting clearer to users from the outside, while government teams are better able to see and understand their users, and so deliver the services and solutions they need.
The graffiti on the wall behind me in that picture says “The state is guilty”. Every digital team’s challenge is perhaps to show a state that is not to blame for your problems, but one that helps you solve them. Or at least, that there’s a government that’s trying to prevent itself being another problem.
To the Colombian team I say: congratulations on your achievements, best of luck for the challenges that lie ahead. Everyone at Public Digital will be cheering you on.