The 2017 version of the "Quality of Public Administrations - A Toolbox for Practitioners" covers aspects like policy-making, business environment, service delivery and includes over 200 case studies, many of which come from eGovernment. The booklet is the result of a joint effort of the Inter-service Group Public Administration quality & innovation, which is composed of different DGs of the European Commission.
In relation to eGovernment theme 5 'Service and digitalisation' is especially important. This theme explores how administrations can better understand needs and expectations, improve processes and simplify administration, ease access to services through one-stop shops or multi-channel delivery, exploit the advantages of eGovernment, interoperability, ‘once-only’ data registration and move towards ‘digital by default’ and ‘open by default’, commit to service standards and measure satisfaction,and manage their service portfolio more effectively.
So what are the main take-aways from the guide in relation to eGovernment?
1. Transform the public sector
The chapter on 'Service delivery' demonstrates that technology is no longer just a tool to automate back office functions and improve public sector productivity, but has now assumed a transformative role in public service design and delivery. The Toolbox explores how administrations can better understand needs and expectations, improve processes and simplify administration, ease access to services through one-stop shops or multi-channel delivery, exploit the advantages of interoperability and ‘once-only’ data registration, commit to service standards, measure satisfaction and manage their service portfolio more effectively.
2. Users at the center
Digital public services are more likely to be used if they meet citizens and businesses on their terms. Also, it needs to be clearer what citizens and businesses can expect. One way to do that is to evaluate users’ experiences of ‘life events’ – common, crucial moments or stages in the lives of citizens or the lifespan of a business. The ‘life event’ approach is both a tool of analysis, and the basis for organising public services, especially electronic services online. This technique evaluates the experience of the whole service coming from multiple organisations, irrespective of how many individual public institutions are involved or how many back-office transactions take place to satisfy the request.
The 'life events' method is a way for administrations to design and develop public services, taking account of users’ needs and requirements. The EU’s eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 recognises users’ needs and requirements as the underlying principles when creating new public services. The Tallinn Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment provides a clear and strong commitment from EU Member States to ensure that public service design and delivery be guided by specific principles of user-centricity. In the annex of the Tallinn Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment Member States commit to a number of user-centricity principles that put the user at the centre of delivering public services, including to have the option to interact digitally with the administrations, to ensure accessibility and security, and to fully handle public services online as much as possible. The importance and relevance of these user-centricity principles is confirmed by theme 5 of the Toolbox and the theme includes useful tips and use cases to make the user-centricity principles a reality.
3. Cooperation and interoperability
The true transformation of public services centred on the users can only occur if institutions are willing and able to work together – within countries, but also across EU borders. Base registries, combined with interoperability, allow further benefits to be unleashed, including implementing the ‘once only’ registration principle, which aims to ease the administrative burden on businesses and citizen, and is increasingly being applied across the EU. Fortunately, multiple instruments are available to stimulate cooperation and ease interoperable cross-border solutions, such as the Digital Single Infrastructures developed by the Connecting Europe Facility and the eIDAS regulation.
4. Policy in practice
The theme on 'Policy-making, implementation and innovation' elaborates on how policy is designed in practice, what instruments are available and how more creative solutions can be found to challenges arising in the digital transitions of the public sector. In the realm of egovernment for example, big data can inform evidence-based policy-making. Also, an open and collaborative government can encourage collaborative service creation (good use cases can be found in Horizon2020 projects) and decision-making in the context of the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020.
This guide is useful for administrations at all levels and it is therefore highly recommended that public administrations at all levels adopt these guidelines. In particular theme 5 'Service and digitalisation' provides clear use cases and guidelines in relation to eGovernment.
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