OIB - Personal Identification Number in Croatia (OIB)

Published on: 12/06/2009

The Croatian Ministry of Finance – Tax Administration initiated the introduction of the personal identification number (OIB) into the Croatian legal system. The Ministry of Finance - Tax Administration is responsible for the assignation of the OIB to every person as a unique and obligatory identifier in the whole Croatian public administration system.

In May 2008, immediately after introducing the OIB Law, the two-phase OIB project was initiated, with first phase implementation deadline set to 01.01.2009. Under the important sponsorship of the Minister of Finance the project gathered all institutions responsible for making the first record of a person birth/establishment of so that OIB is determined immediately after the event, based on an information exchange with the Ministry of Finance - Tax Administration.

The project has been delivered on time, as a result of good project management by the Tax Office and APIS IT, the cooperation of all stakeholders and their ICT partners. The achieved targets of the first phase were:

  • All Croatian citizens were assigned an OIB (4 500 000).
  • All legal entities were assigned an OIB (200 000).
  • Starting from 01.01.2009 all newly registered legal and physical persons are assigned an OIB in real time by registration bodies.
  • An efficient interoperability system was implemented, based on connected government principles, providing horizontal process and data interoperability among institutions through use of state-of-the-art architecture and technology.

The first phase of the project is functional since 01.01.2009. enabling registration bodies (Ministry of Finance – Tax Office, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Central State Administration Office, National Statistics Institute) to interchange the data on new person registrations and to to make real time updates, using the publish/subscribe model.

Phase 1 is a precondition for Phase 2 (deadline 31.12.2010.), which should connect public administration bodies holding official records about persons and property. The unified person entry should enable collection and correlation of business events originating in other public administration bodies, such as financial records and data in Croatia, a key precondition for transparent economy and corruption eradication, as well as a fair social support system, making procedures simpler and cheaper, while increasing the public administration efficiency.
With the introduction of the OIB a safe communication infrastructure was created, enabling process and data interoperability among institutions. The solution is standardized and based on a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and an Event Driven Architecture (EDA), thus representing the first eGovernment solution implemented in Croatia.

Policy Context

The OIB project is in line with the European Union and Republic of Croatia e-government development strategies.

The introduction of the OIB to all national registers and records and its use on public documents, as well as the application of the concept and the creation of the relevant infrastructure, has accomplished achievements whose outlines are defined in the Croatian Government electronic government development strategy for years 2009 -2012.

The OIB principle is in line with the directives of the  i2010 priority area Nr. 2 “Efficient and Effective Government” since it reduces the administrative burden on businesses and citizens. and it uses open standards and open Internet protocols as agreed upon by the WS-I and OASIS SOA-standardization efforts.

In the frame of the eGovernment strategies, attention is increasingly paid to paperless and cross-organizational processes because these represent an opportunity to reduce the administrative burden and promote the cost-savings.

The next-generation e-government implementation represents an infrastructural transformation of the public administration whose main principle is the user-centric service. At the same time e-government also encompasses continuous adjustments of the legal and technological public administration framework to achieve higher work efficiencies and effectiveness, more rational usage of budget resources and a higher services.

E-government service users are:

  1. citizens,
  2. businesses, 
  3. public administration employees at all government levels,
  4. public officials,
  5. public administrations of other countries.

“The introduction of the personal identity number will ensure public administration system transparency, because it is one of the best eradication measures for corruption, one of the main causes of domestic economy slowdown. By the OIB implementation we will establish an efficient social benefit system and eliminate unjustified social benefit claims, thus creating higher justice standards in the taxation system. This is, under many points of view, the most demanding project ever undertaken by the Republic of Croatia“ - Ivan Šuker, the Croatian Minister of Finance.

Description of target users and groups

The OIB system offers infrastructural and functional services. Its target group consists of all  central and public institutions in charge of physical and legal entity registration, and of all institutions obliged to use OIB for their official records.

The direct users are the Tax Office employees (around 4 000 users), with a dedicated portal application solution, and registration bodies (Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice – Commercial Courts, National Statistics Institute and Central State Administration Office) that connect to the OIB system through their own application solutions.

Other OIB system users are all other public administration bodies (around 800), national public agencies, while banks and insurance companies that will be introduced during project phase 2. The OIB system target users are also the Croatian citizens and legal entities, who can use public web applications and SMS services to get information about their OIB.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The crucial success factor of the project was the important sponsorship of the Minister of Finance, as well as the Croatian Cabinet political decision and their clear vision and targets. The Minister of Finance summoned ministers and administrators of the key register institutions, and they made all necessary preparatory arrangements according to their authority in the shortest possible period of time (six months period). The minister supervised checkpoints and project progress in person. The technical solution and coordination was entrusted to APIS IT – an agency owned by the government and the City of Zagreb.

Partnership strategy:

OIB first phase involved all key institutions and their IT teams. The Tax office project manager coordinated the work of all involved institutions. On behalf of the Tax Office, APIS IT in parallel coordinated the IT solution deployments for all institutions. APIS IT developed and implemented the central OIB system with an application for the Tax Office employees, while other registry bodies adjusted their systems to allow the connection to the OIB system The coordination was carried out on a weekly basis, with the participation of all involved institutions.
Business processes and data structure have been agreed thanks to the collaboration of all stakeholders.

The same approach has been applied to decide on data exchange standards, protocols, system testing and a successful production, with all institutions exchanging information through the OIB system on January 1, 2009.
Since the very beginning of the project, special care was taken to allow the integration with the ongoing and future projects (e-ID card, land registry reform, eInvoice, implementation of the social benefit tracking system in the Ministry of Health jurisdiction, etc.).

The OIB pre-production environment was used for system testing, where all involved institutions could perform online the whole testing procedure, according to detailed documentation and test scenarios.
Changing over to the operational phase was successfully achieved by establishing a central co-ordination body within the Ministry of Finance premises and their IT-provider APIS-IT.

The Ministry of Finance had carried out an extensive OIB project publicity campaign (leaflets, TV and radio advertising, informative web site) including public announcements on all key OIB implementation phases to secure the public support.There was an extensive training program for all participating institutions; a call center and a joint help desk system were also established.

Technology solution

The infrastructural section of the OIB system has the task to connect business processes in the most important national institutions to provide interoperability of all connected subjects in real time. To achieve this result, it has been applied the concept of SOA based event driven architecture, which is the only architecture capable of adding business value to business processes in real time. The added business value is in the possibility to view separate business processes in the institutions as horizontally connected processes. That's the way public administration can offer citizens and businesses comprehensive integrated services and interoperability on process and data levels.
The system architecture is designed to support asynchronous processes between public administration bodies, and it is applied through the use of the Event Driven Architecture. This approach enabled real-time processing between autonomous public administration IT systems; this implies that the data in all public administration bodies are synchronized in real time.

On the other hand, it was necessary to apply advanced technological solutions in all institutions. Due to different levels of institutional technology maturity it was necessary to enable simplified use of complex solutions; that was accomplished by the implementation of functionalities on the institution side through the use of OIB nodes. This approach allowed for a unified, manageable, secure and standardized mode of integration of all institutions, and ensured the deployment of the Phase 1 of the OIB project in six months.
The applied EDA approach, in conjunction with the SOA processes in the OIB system, represents an advanced architecture which can respond to business requirements for change and system expansion (new processes, addition of new institutions)  in the simplest and fastest way. This approach has been implemented in all segments of the architecture by the implementation of open and accepted standards:

  • Inter-institutional interaction uses XML and Web services standards, including those related to security and web management (Web Services, WS-SEC, WS-DSIG, WS-XENC, WSN). The implementation of Web services Notification standard has an important role in the architecture, and it represents the main mechanism of non-invasive and flexible interaction between institutions.
  • SOA solutions WS-BPEL, SCA, J2EE, JMS.
  • JSR-168 portlet standard.

Because of the complexity of the whole system and the need of fast results, highly integrated vendor solutions were implemented as a technological solution base.

Technology choice: Proprietary technology, Standards-based technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

The OIB system has processed around 700 000 requests in the first five months of 2009. An average of  5 000 requests are processed daily, including new person registration, data changes and data viewing requests.

Thanks to the implemented infrastructure, the system has allowed a standardized message exchange in real time, and the same infrastructure can be used for data exchange and event capturing, event correlation, etc.

Regarding citizens, the system brought the planned reduction of administrative burden, so that a citizen needs to change his/her data only once in the authorized institution, and the change is published to other interested authorized institutions through a publish/subscribe model. The same model is applied to legal entities.
The electronic data exchange using the OIB system between registry bodies also significantly reduces entry errors and enables a better data quality. Similar improvements in data quality are expected by other public institutions that will, upon authorization, exchange data with the OIB system.
Aside from the data quality, the system will, through its capability of linking to events databases held by other institutions, enable better tracking of financial transactions, thus reducing the possibility of tax evasion and similar illegal actions. This will increase the social benefit policy efficiency.

The OIB system has been designed and developed according to the newest methodological and technological principles, in other words it is based on the service oriented architecture that enables a secure and efficient inter-institutional electronic message exchange.

The system represents the first and the largest solution in Croatia based on SOA. Besides, SOA the solution is also based on:

  • A modular solution based on business process management (BPM).
  • A standardized data model (XML schema).
  • Standardized protocols (SOAP, JMS.)
  • Security mechanisms (Web Services Security, HTTPS, VPN).
  • A synchronous and asynchronous message exchange model in real time (EDA - Event Driven Architecture.)
  • Publish/subscribe model – WS notification.

The OIB system consists of a central unit having a central OIB node, supporting the portal solution for the Ministry of Finance - Tax Administration staff, and distant nodes located at other participant bodies, connecting to the central unit and enabling secure message exchange.

The system development deployed through the use of a united RUP (Rational Unified Process) and SOMA (Service Oriented Modelling and Architecture). Our experience has proved that such a large system can be implemented in the relatively short time of six months.

A large number of processes, data and technological options were synchronized, achieving for the first time real time data exchange between participants belonging to different institutions with significant differences in computerization level. There were no delays in the launch of the system, nor significant incidents among the stakeholders.

Track record of sharing

The technical solution, including the OIB management system, has been  used as a reference model for all future projects in the eGovernment domain in Croatia, when planned to be deployed using SOA.
The OIB represents a good example of well accepted project within the country. It had a good political planning and a high sponsorship. During the advertising campaign, the public was given all the necessary information on the OIB importance and every target group was properly informed on the benefits brought by its implementation.

There was no separate tender or public procurement for the OIB project, since it represents an addition to the already existing central administration ICT systems; this is in fact one of the reasons why it was possible to deliver the first project phase in six months. The necessary system adaptations due to business process redesign were performed by suppliers maintaining existing ICT systems; for the same reason the costs of OIB implementation were minimal.
The project organization focused on the collaboration of all involved groups organized in joint teams and taking joint decisions. The project was coordinated by the Ministry of Finance - Tax Administration, this speeding up the decision making and ensuring the needed progress dynamics of the project. The institution connection architecture and the use of standard technologies allowed the creation of a system which can be easily and continuously upgraded and developed. The same principles will be applied to those public administration processes which need to be networked and are not directly a part of the OIB system.

The Ministry of Finance organized an excellent promotional campaign (newspapers, TV, expert conferences, web pages) and apart from the public administration institutions also banks and other organizations have expressed great interest and support for the project; this contributing to its further developments and applications.

The OIB project experiences can in fact be used in other eGovernment projects, for example the implementation of the social benefit tracking system held by the Ministry of Health.

Lessons learnt

  1. The OIB project represents a basis for further process and data networking of any connected institutions, this allocating time and funds for the implementation of new eGovernment services. This will help the legitimization of further investments, especially for professional, cross-organizational eGovernment initiatives. The use of modern technologies and improvement of business processes in the public sector show that the it is possible to provide fast and quality services for citizens and services in every sector. The procedural time for the implementation of the first phase of the OIB project was exceptionally short, this causing many organizational and technical problems and risks for the participants
  2. Due to the OIB business requirement complexity, it was necessary to implement an advanced system architecture, demanding highly skilled and experienced personnel not immediately available; thanks to  the understanding and the support of all the business oriented participants and institutions involved, this problem was successfully overcome. Clear requirements, political will, good organization and highly qualified personnel deployment contributed to the full realization of the project.
  3. SOA is horizontal. To implement it successfully you need to make organisational changes, adopt a lot of new technologies, get new skills – and that needs time. Enterprise architecture needs to be clearly defined, governance needs to evolve from the beginning, and teaming is vital. Implementing SOA project took 18 months preceeding the OIB project, so the OIB project was based on a stabile SOA environment. The OIB system is a practical example of a SOA solution. OIB shows to other public IT managers how fast and stable SOA technology can be used to deliver functional, secure and high-performance systems in several eGovernment oriented application.
Scope: National