Government Transformation: Lessons from Brazil

Leonardo Prudente, Specialist in Public Policy and Governmental Management and Project Manager at the Ministry of Economy in Brazil, explains how the TransformaGov programme is helping to modernise Brazil’s public administration through collaboration and sharing best practice.brasil (2)As the main government department in Brazil, the Ministry of Economy (ME) has been at the forefront of federal government transformation in the country.

ME has accomplished an outstanding digital transformation of public services to optimise delivery for the country’s citizens. As of June 2022, 76% of the 4,916 federal services are already digital, reaching more than 120 million users. The World Bank ranked Brazil in 7th position in its latest GovTech Maturity Index

Alongside this performance, the ME’s strategy for governmental management transformation, was officially launched in May 2020 with the aim of promoting efficiency in the administrative areas of every federal government body. Although this initiative may not reach citizens as directly as digital services do, it benefits them by optimising resources and saving money that can be reallocated to services.

TransformaGov: helping government departments be more efficient

To succeed with the implementation of this governmental management transformation, changes in organisational culture and collaboration between governmental bodies were often necessary. 

As a key government agency, ME was used to provide rules and guidelines. However, this top-down approach led to the dialogue between ME and other governmental bodies being perceived as unequal. Moreover, although ME provides administrative modernisation solutions, these were riddled with red tape, making them hard to access.

To overcome these challenges, ME launched the TransformaGov programme: a one-stop-shop for about 70 features of administrative modernisation. The programme also issued new guidelines for agile technical support and made ‘de-bureaucratisation’ TransformaGov's mantra.

TransformaGov’s team proactively approaches colleagues in other government organisations by introducing them to its innovative approach and offering support. The team uses questionnaires to identify administrative capacity challenges and offers tailored modernisation solutions based on the feedback collected from those questionnaires. Rather than imposing a plan with rules or penalties, the solutions offered are straightforward action lists to be implemented with the support of the TransformaGov team within a given timeframe.

The programme has so far reached out to more than 135 federal governmental bodies - including ministries, agencies and universities - and continues to expand. It has offered over 2,900 actions spanning strategic management and governance, infrastructure and logistics, people management, processes, and organisational arrangements, of which 52% have already been implemented. 

Transferable lessons

To accomplish its goals, TransformaGov has set up three teams. The first manages existing plans and negotiates new ones, and provides technical support to federal governmental bodies within the programme.

The second team aims to expand the modernisation portfolio. This team works as a lab, seeking out effective modernisation tools and practices across the public administration and developing new ones, particularly solutions that can foster management innovation.

The third team organises and coordinates networks among the different federal bodies in each Brazilian state. By doing so, TransformaGov can promote collaboration among federal government bodies on local issues as well. Those cooperation ties help them come up with solutions for the local administration. So far, networks are available in 23 of the 26 Brazilian states, reaching 77% of 954 federal bodies or branch offices.

Despite its success, TransformaGov faces challenges, mainly lack of budget. All its achievements are based upon the talent of its team and the collaboration fostered among governmental bodies. Executives are committed to promoting a healthy and inspiring work environment, as well as positive relations with their peers.

After two years of positive results, it is clear that this collaborative approach between the Ministry of Economy and its partners in government was key to achieving successful transformation. We believe that other countries could benefit from this model and the restructure of collaboration channels if they adapt and replicate this approach.

Photo of the Ministry of Economy of Brazil courtesy of Agência Senado.

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