eGovernment Toolbox (eGov Toolbox)

Published on: 08/06/2009
Document

The Prime Minister's Office in Iceland has launched an eGovernment toolbox. The toolbox is a part of the service of the national portal Island.is.

The purpose of the toolbox is to facilitate further development of public services. It is available to any national or local public body free of charge and it reducesthe need for the public bodies "to reinvent the wheel". The toolbox consists of the following features:

  1. Authentication at Island.is which can be used to provide access to secure individual services of public bodies ("my pages"). The users can authenticate themselves by using an electronic ID card issued on debit cards from the Icelandic banks or a web key issued by The Internal Revenue Directorate.
  2. Electronic document delivery at Island.is.
    1. Assistance in preparing electronic forms to be filled out electronically. This tool is suitable for public bodies that have many forms and takes into account that it will be both time consuming and expensive to transform them all into forms that can be filled out electronically.
    2. Secure electronic delivery of forms which makes it possible for the citizens to deliver applications and other documents electronically after they have authenticated themselves. This tool is meant for public bodies who can't afford to invest in expensive form builders/case management systems or public bodies who take into consideration that the cost is higher than the benefits received.
  3. Service layer to facilitate public bodies to offer electronic services and access to data. The service layer also functions as a library of central solutions available to all public agencies, for example authentication, document delivery, e-payments and access to central registries. The service layer is the central pillar of the toolbox.

Benefits: The authentication module saves the agencies the cost of developing and implementing their own authentication module. The benefit for the citizens is the convenience of using the same authentication method for all public services. The electronic delivery interface is a big step in reducing administrative burden for the citizens while it is a small step concerning investment of public bodies' behalf. The service layer facilitates sharing of information, reuse of components, standardization, integration and cooperation between organizations.

Policy Context

The toolbox is a measure to implement the Icelandic Government Policy on the Information Society 2008-2012 called Iceland the e-Nation.

The policy in a nutshell:

  • Future vision: Icelanders shall become the leading nation in electronic services and the utilisation of information technology.
  • Guiding principle: User-friendly, efficient service - no need to wait your turn.
  • The policy is accompanied by more than 60 measures where the main focus is on e-services and an integrated architecture.

Another motivation for the toolbox is Iceland's unsatisfying performance regarding the maturity of public services, according to surveys both on EU-level and on a national level. The toolbox is intended to speed up the performance improvement.

Description of target users and groups

Target users can be divided into two groups:

  1. Public bodies: The toolbox is available to all public bodies who want to improve their e-services and thereby increase efficiency and effectiveness in providing these services. They can use one of the tools or all the tools together. For example they could use the authentication to open up access to personalized pages ("my pages"), they could use the service layer to access data from another agency or they could use the document delivery service for applications and other documents.
  2. The end users are the individuals (the customers) who benefit from the products of the toolbox. Their benefit will be a single sign-on for authentication, better service in the form of electronic delivery of forms and better access to public data registers.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The Prime Minister's Office in Iceland is responsible for the management of the eGovernment Toolbox as follows:

  • The department of Information society is responsible for coordination and cooperation, contacts with other public bodies, setting visions, implementing policies, setting priorities etc.
    • The eGovernment division is responsible for development, implementation and maintenance.
    • The Island.is division is responsible for operation and marketing.
  • Security issues are handled in cooperation with the Protection of Privacy Agency.
  • Legal issues will be handled according to Icelandic Law on eGovernment, thereby including the law on eSignature.
  • The Prime Minister's Office will issue a guidance to the agencies for carrying out a risk assessment. 
    • The Agencies are responsible for determining the level of authentication for their forms. Some forms will not need any authentication at all and can be delivered by email. For other forms a web key will be sufficient. For the most sensitive forms an eID card will be necessary.

Technology solution

The service layer consists of two main software servers, WebMethods Integration Server and Actional SOAPstation. Included in the service layer is an authentication module which uses a SAML certificate to authenticate users, either with an eID card or a web key. The delivery of the electronic documents is also based on the service layer. All the solutions are based on open standards.

The generation of an electronic form (PDF) that can be filled out electronically is based on Adobe Life Cycle Designer. The electronic documents are then marked with a special code for electronic delivery through the service layer. The code directs the document to the relevant agency (owner of the form).

The web forms for authentication and electronic delivery are based on the Eplica product suite for web development. Eplica is a platform independent J2EE based tool.

The procedure for authentication of a user is the following:

  1. The procedure can start on the website of the relevant agency or at Island.is
  2. The user clicks on an authentication button which sends him to the authentication page at Island.is
  3. The user authenticates himself with a relevant certificate.
  4. If access is granted the user is transformed back to "My pages" of the relevant agency.
  5. An example can be found at the Social Security Institute: http://www.tryggur.is. (Push the button "Innskráning")

The procedure behind the authentication:

  1. Island.is delivers a SAML certificate to the service layer.
  2. The agency makes a web service call to the service layer to fetch the SAML-certificate and check if it is valid.

The procedure for electronic document delivery:

  1. The user fetches the electronic form at Island.is or at the agency's website. The form is labeled with a special icon to distinguish it from other forms that are not subject to electronic delivery. (See: http://www.island.is/eydublod-og-umsoknir/leita?SearchFor=gr%C3%A6nland…). The user fills out the form and saves the document on his computer. He collects all documents that he needs to attach to the form.
  2. When everything is ready the user pushes the button "Rafræn skjalaskil" which is available both at Island.is and at the relevant agency's web.
  3. The user authenticates himself on Island.is
  4. The users name is fetched from the National Registry through the service layer and presented in the delivery window.
  5. The user uploads the form and enclosures and types in his email address for an automatic receipt reply.
  6. The documents are sent to the relevant agency (based on the special code) and the user gets a confirmation through email. Now the agency can work with the document manually or automatically.
  7. The path to the delivery window is http://www.island.is/skjalaskil
Technology choice: Proprietary technology, Mainly (or only) open standards

Main results, benefits and impacts

The benefit for the customer is that he can use his computer to fetch, fill out and deliver applications at any time without leaving his house and he can use one electronic ID or one web key for all the agencies. This decreases the administrative burden for all citizens.

The benefit for the agency is less burden at the reception desk. Electronic delivery is established without the agency having to develop any solutions by itself regarding authentication or electronic delivery. This also simplifies the process of handling applications and decreases the risk of errors. Effectiveness and efficiency at the agency will increase.

This is a sustainable impact that will only grow as the toolbox becomes more sophisticated. Icelandic people have the highest rate of using the Internet and public services in Europe which will make the impact even bigger.

A more quantitative impact measurement will be carried out when the project has been operating for some time (6-12 months). The Standard Cost Model will be used. During May 2009 a pilot project has been carried out implementing the SCM on 3 different public service procedures. Preliminary results were introduced on the IT day on 19 May 2009, see http://www.sky.is/images/stories/2009%20UT_dagurinn/2_JONOSKAR.pdf. A brochure (for teaching purposes) was also published, see http://www.sky.is/images/stories/2009%20UT_dagurinn/2_Jonoskarbaeklingu…. The results of this pilot project will be valuable for conducting an evaluation of the impact of the eGov Toolbox in the forthcoming months.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

The toolbox was introduced at a conference on the day of IT 19 May 2009, see http://www.sky.is/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1608&Itemid….

A presentation (in Icelandic) from that day can also be found at http://www.ut.is/media/ut/ut-dagurinn2009/glaerur/hallabjorg.pdf. A translation of this presentation is available as an additional document for this case.

A brochure has also been printed and can be found on the web page http://www.ut.is/verkfaerakistan.

Lessons learnt

The idea behind the toolbox is very simple and the intention is to get quick wins at a low expense. The toolbox has received a very positive feedback by Icelandic agencies. It is already in use and many agencies are planning to make use of it. Due to the economical crisis the toolbox is even more important since all public bodies have a very tight budget and need to cut down costs, even though it needs to be promoted.

The service layer has proved to be a good way of reusing modules and thereby reducing costs. The service layer plays a very important role in standardisation, coordination and cooperation between organisations.

The initial idea for document delivery was intended to be more sophisticated than the current product; the goal was to use pdf forms that could be filled out in a browser page and delivered directly with a send button. This was not possible due to the fact that if a person authenticates himself and then opens a pdf-file in a browser the connection to the authentication session is lost; this implies that the person is no longer authenticated and the whole process has lost its purpose. Therefore the document delivery was solved with an upload window.

Scope: Local (city or municipality), National