BORA (acronym for "Online Relationship Database for Evaluators", in Brazilian Portuguese) is an innovative online application developed by ENAP that connects research professionals and policy managers around the country. The app makes it possible to link the needs of Brazilian public administration for high-quality policy analysis and the research of well-targeted projects by specialists based on a quick, transparent and free solution.
BORA aims to bring together researchers and municipal, state or federal policy managers, reducing the transaction costs for finding researchers specialized on public policies. Our application was inspired by well-known personal relationship apps but focused on public and professional needs. It works as a free showcase where policy managers and researchers can match projects that mutually interest them. With BORA there is no need for human intermediation, no space for privileged information, no bureaucracy. Using open source programming language Flutter and Firebase database, BORA is a people-oriented project. Through UX/UI design, data science and development tools our main objective is to put technology in favor of transparency, qualified professional relations and public value.
The main feature developed by our team is "bora" (Brazilian Portuguese for "let's go"), a button pressed when you are willing to work on a project or with a professional. Whenever there is mutual interest on a profile/project, both ends' contact details are displayed and they are able to discuss a partnership. The app also has the option of showing interest, which represents a like button on a project or a professional but without the intention of generating a partnership right away. No contacts are displayed in that case but the feature creates a separated list of interests, allowing to increase and enhance professional network for future collaborations. Whenever there is a will of developing a connection, all the user has to do is hit "bora" and wait for a match.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
When we analyze traditional recruitment tools bureaucracy is the number one obstacle for both candidates and recruiters. Lots of required information, steps to follow, without even knowing there is a real match between the job offer and applicants. With BORA obstacles are removed and simple, quick, direct profiles increase the chance of finding the one project or professional made for you. This unique technology project inside the Brazilian public administration shows that the State is able to serve public needs in innovative ways. Through UX/UI design, data science and development teams and tools, altogether, high-quality public policy research is made easy and transparent.
What is the current status of your innovation?
BORA was first presented during a public session at 2022 ENAP Innovation Week on August 10th. A group of users among researchers and policy managers have made the final feedback round, which was a neat success. During the last month, our teams worked on implementing the last details, debugging some features and making sure both Android and Mac apps were ready to see their final version. It was officially launched on September 28th in both Google Play and Apple Store.
Collaborations & Partnerships
BORA is the result of a fruitful collaboration between ENAP and a team of UnB (University of Brasilia) researchers. While ENAP framed the need and came up with the concept, leading the project and the different teams; researchers added their development and data science expertise. Users interested in the app gave their valuable feedback during the implementation and added the final touches before the official launch.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Policy managers see their costs of money and time decrease when searching for a research professional at BORA app. They have access to a variety of professionals and can focus on finding real specialists in their subjects of interest.
Researchers have access to a wide range of job offers in a quick, transparent and free way. BORA breaks the need for mediation and privileged information on research notices when it centralizes offers from different levels of government.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
BORA's final version was freshly launched but its beta release already had a significant reach, with dozens of test profiles from real policy managers and researchers created until last month. We are implementing a statistics storage model in our database that evaluates profiling metrics (manager and researcher), number of matches, "boras", interests and other features for future profiles and interactions. Our goal now is to create a solid communication strategy so that BORA is widely recognized as the main Brazilian tool to unite policy professionals. We hope participating in OPSI's Prix opens new spaces for exchanging and learning with international organisations while spreading the word of innovation and showing how governments are also capable of assuming technological, social and economical challenges.
Challenges and Failures
Backup, security and data rights: In order to comply with the national law on data protection, backup copies and internal procedures have been implemented. Possibility of fraud: In order to avoid it, BORA features a user reporting tool. In the future we consider developing a more robust profile verification solution to enhance users security. Tools availability: In a governmental project, contracting services is sometimes time consuming and we had a challenging period regarding the availability of tools needed to execute this project, such as access to paid versions of Firebase for the use of cloud functions. With time and support from ENAP internal teams, the problem was solved and access was released. Publishing the app: Being a public app, BORA's publication in Apple and Google stores via gov.br account is mandatory. The process for carrying it out is bureaucratic and involved teams from other government bodies. With alignment and good coordination, this challenge was also solved.
Conditions for Success
There is a combination of conditions necessary to transform a good idea into a tangible product such as BORA. First of all, there must be an institutional space for having innovative ideas, one that embraces new propositions and let it be developed without previous constraints. Check. ENAP is known for being more than a Brazilian think tank, but also a knowledge broker, always open to innovation. Secondly, the human resources needed for the project to become real must be identified. In our case, project managers capable of leading tech teams. Once these professionals recognized and truly motivated by the concept, the challenge we faced was to find a tech team easy to engage. Here, the professional expertise inside ENAP via the support from internal teams responsible for contract issues was essential. Once the conditions reunited, effective leadership and teams synergy made it possible to see BORA as more than a dream, but an achievement.
Until now, BORA is a one-of-a-kind solution inside the public policy research environment in Brazil. Other organisations, both public, private and from the third sector, are observing the this app evolution. The interest shown by organisations and individual professionals reaching ENAP to understand more about BORA's functioning, plus the Brazilian media coverage on the subject are good indicators of possible replication outside ENAP. It is also important to highlight that BORA saw the broadening of its initial scope. The app was firstly thought for the use of evaluation professionals and managers exclusively. After the first wave of interaction with potential users we decided to go beyond evaluation, embracing all kind of public policy research: policy analysis, monitoring and whatever the policy managers needs become.
Our toughest challenges were of legal and contractual nature, something expected in a governmental innovation tech project. The main lesson learned during BORA's first chapters is that solid team work and real leadership are capable of removing most obstacles a project can (and will) find. Working in synergy and sharing values motivates people to work towards common goals, passing through difficulties and hard times in a lighter manner. In such a context, limitations become challenges; challenges become solutions. And BORA it is.