Skip to content
An official website of the OECD. Find out more
Created by the Public Governance Directorate

This website was created by the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI), part of the OECD Public Governance Directorate (GOV).

How to validate authenticity

Validation that this is an official OECD website can be found on the Innovative Government page of the corporate OECD website.

Design Academy for Public Policy (LabGobAR)


In Argentina, public servants are getting promoted according to their innovation level. To support this initiative, The Design Academy for Public Policy teaches public servants how to innovate. At the Academy, we teach the core skills and innovative tools public servants need to acquire in order to solve future public challenges, and at the same time empowers them to be part of a cultural change within the government.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

As the formative space within Government Lab of Argentina (LABGobAr), Design Academy for Public Policy's main goal is to establish and scale innovation skills and tools in the public sector. It summons public servants and government officials to take part in inspiring meetups, trainings and workshops, in order to develop creative and collaborative dynamics to achieve its goals for innovative practices within the public sector.

The Design Academy for Public Policy is framed in three main working areas:

  • KNOWLEDGE: research, systematization and spreading of knowledge, tools and experiences of public innovation
  • SKILLS: development, design and execution of trainings in public innovation, open data, open government and digital economy to the public servants
  • COMMUNITIES: identifying and bringing up specific-themed communities of practice and strengthening them, through different devices that promote inspiring meetings for action, participation and collaboration.

The Design Academy for Public Policy not only trains public servants in acquiring future skills and innovative tools to solve public challenges, but also empowers them to be part of a cultural change within the government. In order to achieve this goal, the Academy collaborates with the National Institute for Public Administration of Argentina (INAP). All the trainings, workshops, talks and meet ups the Academy organize are executed through INAP’s platform.

In 3 years, we have trained over 15.000 public servants across national and subnational offices and we are expecting to achieve 20.000 students by the end of 2018.

We have 6 specific skills that we promote throughout our different programmes: Iteration; Design Thinking; Digital Thinking; Data and Evidence Use; Curiosity and flexibility; and New narratives and cooperation.

Some of the topics we cover are:
- Design Thinking; Human-centered design, Open Innovation Agile methodologies, Prototyping;
- Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Visualization;
- Open Government, Transparency;
- Evaluation and monitoring, Theory of Change;
- Digital Transformation, Digital Economy and
- Storytelling, New formats of communication, design for non-designers.

Even though we have fixed training programmes we also offer tailor-made trainings and courses for the different government teams according to their needs.

Design Academy for Public Policy fixed programmes are:
1. Inspiring talks: Brief sessions in which specialized speakers spread inspiring and transformative concepts and experiences.

2. Virtual Courses: Cutting edge knowledge for distance learning.

3. Face-to-face Trainings: Learning by doing trainings with the aim to co-create knowledge from the practical experience of its participants and create a learning community.

4.1 Digital Community Meet-Ups: an unconference made to exchange knowledge, experiences and technological tools. Speakers, lightning talks, clinics and self-organized debate tables.

4.2 Innovation Marathon: Bigger scale one-day inspiring session with several and simultaneous classrooms where different topics are being taught. It also has a space for participants to propose and give an inspiring talk or simply share an experience.

5.1 Agile Design for Public Policy Program (DAPP): Executive Program where high ranking public officials attend with their teams and bring a real challenge they face at work and tackles it through Design Thinking.

5.2 Innovation Ecosystems: Executive Program for high ranking public officials from sub-national governments and their teams where we transfer innovation skills through solving real challenges.

5.3 Multipliers: Training programme for capacity building teams throughout the public administration, focused on building capacities for research, design and evaluation of formative programmes in order to multiply innovative capabilities throughout the government. NOTE: In Argentina, every Ministry has a capabilities building team.

5.4 Emerging Innovators (hasn’t been launched yet): It is a Program where we form interdisciplinary teams of public servants from different Ministries and give them a real challenge that they have to solve through the application of innovation tools.

6 INTERNATIONAL TRAININGS: We have developed a virtual training program for Latin American public officials in collaboration with the Latin American Center of Administration for Development (CLAD) and the Ibero American School of Public Administration and Policy.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

Governmental organizations must deal with different challenges that are new and complex. Public institutions have to innovate. Public administration universities, where budding civil servants learn the fundamentals of policymaking, law and leadership, are common. But Argentina may be the only country with a government-run school devoted to teaching public servants how to innovate.
The Design Academy for Public Policy is transforming the way government works by offering a variety of trainings, with introductory sessions, specialized courses, team classes and creating materials, which are available to public officials in all levels of government. Our aim to establish and scale innovation skills and tools in the public sector is a novelty to a structure that has been working in the same way, and with the same methods, for more than 40 years. It has reached int its 3 years more than 15 000 public servants.

What is the current status of your innovation?

The Design Academy for Public Policy, funded by the Government Lab of Argentina (LABGobAr), teaches public servants skills that will be central to the future way of working inside the government.

In 3 years, we have trained over 15,000 public servants across national and subnational offices and we are expecting to achieve 20,000 students by the end of 2018.

We train public servants, create communities of practice and develop academic materials for our students. We have published 7 sets of tools, 4 of which can be found in the OPSI of the OECD. Books and didactic kits are being developed to have are own library. New multimedia content, such as podcasts, are being explored.

At an international level, we are exploring the possibility to advise other countries on how to implement their own Design Academy.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

The Design Academy for Public Policy main collaborator is Argentina’s Institute for Public Administration, which trains civil servants in the more traditional skills needed for government work. We acts as a lab for the public administration school. We also rely on government teams, both in the national and subnational level, to reach public servants from all over the country and, finally, on LABgobar's partners (such as NESTA, Harvard University and UK’s GDS, among others) to perform in our executive programmes.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

We aim to serve public servants who work in all levels of Public Administration, at operational or official levels, regardless the specific tasks that they develop.

Our main users are those who haven’t been in contact with these topics and want to learn-by-doing. We also reach those who have been in touch with these methods, but need some guidance to solve their main issues, and other public agents who are already experts in our contents, yet require further trainings.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

Measuring capabilities is an unresolved global debate, however, we have our own indicators that allow us to analyze and measure the impact of this Project.
Data Analysis: By collecting data through a training management system we can analyze training trajectories, ages, gender, professional training, etc.
Satisfaction: Surveys measure the satisfaction of students, and the possibility to use the tools acquired.
Success Cases: Through the approach of learning-by-doing we show substantial changes. For example, in the Ecosystem of Innovative Cities program in the City of Comodoro Rivadavia, a protocol for the prevention of natural disasters was developed and regulated in a municipal ordinance project worked with the community through human centered design.
Another way we hope to show impact is by creating communities of practice that encourage collaboration between public servants once they've left the classroom. We have done this with meetups, conferences and "innovation marathons".

Challenges and Failures

One of the biggest difficulties was setting this new agenda in a public administration used to receiving traditional training. This situation was identified and worked on in advance, validating the progress in meetings and focus groups with people who fitted the student profile we were searching for.
To enhance receptivity and minimize resistance, we partnered with national and decentralized agencies in what we call the "Academia District": a cluster of 10 sites hosting the various training sessions. With this initiative, we achieved an Academy that goes to the work spaces of public servants.

Conditions for Success

The necessary conditions were:
. Institutional Context: The Modernization Plan, aims to move towards a Public Administration with professionalized technical teams trained to provide public solutions.

. Structure: The Design Academy is part of the Secretary of Modernization of the Presidency of the Nation through the Undersecretary of Public Innovation and Open Government. The area in charge of the project is the Directorate of Capacity Development for Innovation.

. Political will: Andrés Ibarra, Deputy Chief of Staff and Secretary of Government for Modernization, is a great promoter in our country of the importance of prioritizing and revaluing public employment.

. Human and Financial Resources: This project has its own budget of the Government Secretariat for the Modernization of the Presidency of the Nation, as well as strategic alliances with partners such as IDB, CAF and INAP. This project has its own team of 6 people and a committee of thematic experts.


National Institute for Public Administration: Given the experimental framework of the Academy, it has become the ideal place to try and implement new trainings, formats and methodologies, which are then to be replicated by INAP in other trainings.

Provincial and Municipal Institutes for Public Administration:Although the link with these organizations is incipient to date, we see an enormous opportunity to replicate the model of the Academy in provincial and municipal training institutes in Argentina.

International Training with the Latin American Center of Administration for Development (CLAD): For the first time, the Academy was invited to develop a virtual training for 22 countries members of CLAD.

Other Government Schools: The Academy is frequently consulted by other laboratories or government schools on how the model can be scaled or replicated in other countries.

Lessons Learned

We’d like to share the following lessons:

Listen-Empathize: When developing the project, one of our main concerns was whether public servants were willing to embrace a new training agenda, with topics that were out of the ordinary for the government environment. To our surprise, and after understanding our audience, we were able to design learning experiences that have been adopted by all levels of government.
Iterate and embrace mistakes: We weren’t afraid of implementing our programmes at a low scale and that allowed us to make improvements in the process.

Seize opportunities: There are times where the conditions of undertaking a project of this magnitude in the public sector are not the right ones. In our experience, capitalizing knowledge of the LABgobar team, searching for idle capacity in ministerial bodies that served as the academia district for our workshops, involving key partners in the project (Human Resources areas, for example), was what allowed us to undertake the project in a solid manner.

Internal partners: A main asset is to be able to identify the key partners of the project. In our case it was to associate with the National Institute of Public Administration, the directors of capacity development of ministries and government agencies and human resources areas. They have become the drivers of the project.

External partners:Involving external key partners such as IDB, CAF, national and international universities in the project has been key to legitimize the initiative.

Maintain: Introducing a new public policy naturally generates resistance. Keeping a clear vision of the purpose of the project and always communicating, is fundamental for prosperity.

Sustainability: Governments change, initiatives too. Leading projects is easy, but making them transcend is very complicated. In our case, the partnership with INAP was fundamental for our academic offer to transcend this administration.