Civic Tech for governmental change

Alvaro Herrero

18 Apr 2018, 4:30 p.m.
Auditorium 3

While the use of technology for civic purposes is on the rise, an area which remains largely unexplored is the way Civic Technology impacts governments, bureaucracies, and public officials.

An experience in the city of Buenos Aires may shed light on this phenomenon — the story of BA Obras. Towards the beginning of 2017, a government department decided to create a website in which all public works under its jurisdiction would be published. The visual impact of the site created something similar to an arms-race phenomenon among different government departments, which eventually led to the expansion of the original project into a full-scale government initiative.

This appropriation by the government of Civic Tech tools created a dynamic of change inside government which was largely unexpected. It was fueled by the leadership desire to be included in a project which seemed especially innovative and by the need of not being signaled out as the one department which keeps public works in secrecy.

These decisions were later transferred to line and file-and-rank public officers who processed these mandates in different ways, highlighting problems, obstacles, and trade-offs which were not originally considered. This experience could be an excellent opportunity to learn more about how these projects, which use technology and encourage citizen engagement, affect internal power dynamics within public administrations and local bureaucracies.

View the Q&A for this session here.

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Civic Tech for governmental change (Alvaro Herrero - Buenos Aires City Government) from mysociety