The Citizen Shop are an innovative concept of public services delivery, concentrating several public and private entities in the same place with the purpose of facilitating relations between citizens and enterprises and the Public Administration. Apart from granting greater comfort and convenience for customers, it also allows the economy of time and money (commuting costs). Moreover, it provides the sharing of resources, infrastructures and platforms, making efficiency and reduction of costs possible forthe Portuguese State.
The first Citizen Shop (Laranjeiras, Lisboa) opened for the public in 1999. By February 2012, there were 33 Citizen Shops available all over Portugal: Águeda, Aveiro, Borba, Braga, Campo Maior, Cantanhede, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Esmoriz, Faro, Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Gondomar, Guarda, Lisboa-Laranjeiras, Lisboa-Restauradores, Murça, Odivelas, Palmela-Atendimento Móvel, Penafiel, Pinhal Novo, Ponte da Barca, Porto, Resende, São João da Madeira, Santo Tirso, Serpa, Setúbal, Tarouca, Vila Nova da Barquinha, Vila Nova de Gaia, Vimioso and Viseu.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Portuguese State, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund determines, in point 3.47, that the Portuguese Government should: "reduce the number of spread services at the ministerial level (for example taxes, social security and justice). These services must be object to a merging in Citizen Shops, embracing a larger geographical range and pushing forward for an increasing development of electronic government during the period in which the program takes place." [T4:2013].
The above reinforce the importance of Citizen Shops in the administrative modernisation strategy, as well as its affirmation as a contact point for the personal delivery of services. The expansion plan for Citizen Shops contemplates the opening of at least one shop in each municipality. Until 2013, 16 more Shops should be opened, all of them being already in the programming pipeline or under construction, and, currently, there are Citizen Shops in every district of the country, with the single exception of Leiria.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
The creation of the Citizen Shops in 1999 was the first step for the introduction of the concept of one stop shop in the Portuguese public administration. The possibility for the citizen to access a large spectrum of public and private services, in a single place, has represented an important increment in the quality and number of the required standards, when it comes to public service delivery in the country.
In 2007, with the introduction of the second generation of Shops, came the creation of the unified desks (Multi-service Desk, I Lost My Wallet Desk, among others), marking a change, characteristic of the national administrative simplification strategy - the public services are now also organised in terms of the users' and enterprises' life events (e.g. change of data in several documents at the same time - documents for marriage, for buying a house or for creating an enterprise).
The reference model for the second generation Citizen Shops also provided for the conception of more modular stores, adapted to the necessities of every municipality, in a logic that is different from the first generation stores, available only in regional capitals. This model, much more flexible and less expensive, allows for the further optimisation of savings and efficiency in delivering the services,, crucial to the success of these spaces, having the municipalities as a strategic partner.
Along this line, the Shops are being established as the most important personal channel for the citizens to access State services, and, from the beginning of 2012 onwards, they will also incorporate the competencies of the old and now extinct Enterprise Shops, embodied in the Entrepreneur Desk. Being a public service, the Shops are continuously open to the public from Monday to Friday (08:30 to 19:30) and Saturdays (09:30 to 15:00), to the exception of the smaller ones (09:00 to 16:00) and other possible eventual variations.
There are several types of technological infrastructures that support the Citizen Shop business, ranging from computer equipments to queue managing software and statistic indicators, information systems for the online delivery of services and other infrastructure related to security and vigilance.
Main results, benefits and impacts
The Citizen Shop is actually one of the most distinctive brands in the relation between citizens and the Public Administration. By the end of 2011, the Shops had delivered more than 100 million services, with continuously high demand (even considering that there are other options), showing that the citizens prefer this model of public service delivery, by consistently and positively evaluating it. Going beyond improving the service quality, to the benefit of the users, the Shops also contribute to costs optimisation by:
- Reducing the number of physical offices, that implies renting and infrastructural costs.
- Sharing infrastructures, platforms and software between some of the present entities.
- Benefiting from the presence of private entities, which contribute to the sustainability of the model, covering 33% of total expenditure.
The Citizen Shop project has benefited from several involvement and commitment levels, be it in terms of the competent Ministry or the several public administration institutes, which act as enablers for the management of projects of this nature.Scope: Local (city or municipality), National