An efficient delivery of e-services to citizens, both in public or private sectors, would not be possible without the availability of timely and error-free civil status data. That is precisely what the Identity Information Sharing System (abbreviated KPS in Turkish) accomplished since its introduction in 2005 as an extension of the Central Civil Registration System (MERNIS). KPS enables the secure one-way access to reliable and up-to-date personal and address information, thereby increasing enormously the speed and efficiency of services provided to the citizens by the users of the system. The system has become the backbone of the eGovernment infrastructure in Turkey, with over 2 500 public and private entities benefiting from KPS to date.
Public and private entities can access personal information stored in KPS database - a replicate of MERNIS database which hosts civil status and address records of all Turkish nationals and foreigners settled in Turkey. Users of KPS have to make bi-lateral access agreements with the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality, after stating in writing their legitimate interest in the requested type of data. Users of the system are considered responsible for the use and intra-agency dissemination of the information obtained from KPS.
Interoperability is at the heart of the choice of the technology solution, i.e., the offered services have to be easily implemented by the user agencies. The system uses server-side SSL connection and WS Security for higher protection of the user name and password in SOAP messages, offering easier maintenance of the system and improved technical support for the system users.
The major impact of the system is that it abolishes the need to request documents such as extracts or copies of civil status records or domicile address certificates from citizens or the civil registration offices that are necessary for the provision of services. Instead, the requested information can be securely accessed electronically at any time from the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality via the KPS. Electronic availability of civil status and address information contributes significantly towards the simplification of administrative and business processes, since public and private sector service providers do not require paper-based ID information or are able to verify the presented information electronically.
In that regard, the advantages offered by KPS for the system users are virtually incalculable. Figures speak for themselves - over 4 billion enquiries are expected in 2009 while before the implememtation of the system they had to be carried out with paper-based traditional correspondence. The system offers generic services targeting all public and private entities, and users of the system are able to conduct enquiries by accessing KPS XML-based web services using add-ons to their existing applications or by developing new applications. They are also able to view the enquired data directly from their own applications and automatically update their own databases with the enquired information.
KPS was set up with a national investment budget of 1 000 000 â‚¬ over the 6-month development period in 2004 and its running costs is up to 500 000 â‚¬ per year. Services provided by KPS are free of charge for public agencies which (as of June 2009) constituted 85% of the total user portfolio. Since 2007, the remaining 15 percent of the user base, comprised of private sector entities, are being charged for the service, generating a revenue for a total of 4 000 000 â‚¬ by the end of 2008, covering the whole investment and operational costs.
Efficient delivery of citizen-centric public services, especially e-Government services, would not be possible without the provision of electronically maintained civil status data, which are the most fundamental information used to determine citizens civic rights and obligations. Turkey has taken significant steps toward e-Transformation of the way public services are delivered to the citizens with comprehensive action plans and e-government strategies â€“ in parallel with the EU i2010 Information Society for Growth and Employment policy framework. All of these initiatives target areas such as e-government, infrastructure security, e-commerce, legal infrastructure, e-health, human resources and education within the framework of identifying strategic priority areas.
In that regard, the Identity Information Sharing System (KPS), a base infrastructure for electronically enabled services, was first set out in 2003 in Action No 45 of the Short Term Turkish e-Transformation Action Plan envisaging the implementation of integrated informational infrastructure for the provision of personal data to all public agencies. The project was legally supported by the enactment of the Civil Registration Services Law No 5490 which regulated the main principles of sharing civil status data. Political determination was further emphasised with the publication of the Prime Ministry Circular No 2006/18, urging public agencies to benefit from KPS in order to reduce bureaucratic burden in administrative transactions.
The achievements of KPS were recognised nationally at the traditional e-TR competition in 2005, organised jointly by the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen Association (TUSIAD) and the Turkish Informatics Foundation, receiving the top e-Service award in the Government to Government (G2G) Category.
Description of target users and groups
The Identity Information Sharing System (KPS) offers generic services, as set out in the relevant legislation, targeting all public agencies (and private entities since 2007) that offer public services to all Turkish citizens and foreigners living in Turkey. In other words, it is a direct G2G and G2B e-service facilitating the delivery of G2C services by the system users.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
The outlines implementations of KPS started in 2004 with comprehensive evaluation of the needs and recommendations of all state agencies providing public services, which in turn served as a basis for the tendering of the project in June 2004. The project was implemented between July and December 2004, and officially launched in February 2005. Since then the implementation has been overseen by a dedicated unit at the headquarters handling applications, supported by technical units that operate under the coordination of the Department of Data Processing which is primarily responsible for the monitoring and maintenance of the system.
The system was initially launched using architecture based on web services (SOAP XML) over VPN connections with user agencies. Later, however, due to rapidly increasing user base and revised agency feedbacks, the network architecture was changed to SSL connection and WS Security for higher protection of the user name and password in SOAP messages. An in-line Intrusion Detection/Prevention System is in place against network attacks.Â
Interoperability was the core of the technology solution choice, i.e., the offered services had to be easily implemented by the user agencies, as recommended in the Interoperability Guide first published in 2005 by the State Planning Organisation. In that regard, changing over to SSL connection resulted also in easier maintenance of the system and improved technical support for the system users.Technology choice: Standards-based technology
Main results, benefits and impacts
Thanks to the availability of an underlying robust Central Civil Registration System (MERNIS), which went into full operation in 2003, KPS was implemented in a relatively short period of six months. KPS has become a brand name in Turkey with an outstanding take up of 2 500 entity users over the past four years. The annual number of on-line enquiries rose from around 56 million in 2005 to 2 billion in 2008, and is expected to exceed 4 billion enquiries by the end of 2009 â€“ an overall contribution of billions of Euros to the national economy in terms of cost and time savings.
KPS offers generic services that target public and, since 2007, private sector service providers. As a fundamental system providing personal information to public agencies and private entities, alongside the quantifiable benefits, the system offers multi-dimensional intangible benefits for all stakeholders:Â
- Public agencies, ranging from judiciary and education to social security and health structures etc., benefit from the instant and secure access to reliable and up-to-date personal and address data in full legal value, necessary to delivery efficient public services to citizens who are no longer required to show paper-based civil status or address information.
- Data duplication was avoided â€“ agencies no longer need to maintain databases for personal information resulting in tremendous savings of resources.
- Administrative burden was greatly reduced resulting in simplification of administrative processes.
- Significant contribution to paperless public services, as traditional correspondence for civil status documents or address certificates is no longer needed.
- Sound planning and investment in all areas of social life with instant access to up-to-date personal data.
- Access to reliable and timely data from official source â€“ no need for further verification.
- Simplified business processes similarly to governmental agencies.
- Increased security due to verification of official documents such as ID cards and copies of civil status records via KPS (in cases of limited access to data).
- Citizens are the ultimate end users of public services where the intangible benefits of KPS are felt the most, as non of the public services using KPS require from them paper-based civil status documents or address certificates which previously required at least one visit to the nearest civil registration office.
- Simplified and fast administrative/business transactions contributed significantly to reduction in waiting times and increased the users convenience and service quality.
- KPS paved the way for efficient delivery of face-to-face as well as on-line public services for citizens.
Return on investmentReturn on investment: €1,000,000-5,000,000
Track record of sharing
KPS has been continually promoted nationally and internationally. Many national agencies have paid visits to the headquarters to scrutinise the implementation of the system. In addition, other countries have also shown interest in the way MERNIS and KPS are set up and maintained. Latest examples of knowledge sharing included visits by official Bosnian, Syrian and Sudanese delegations.
Due to its flexible architecture, the system could be easily scaled down and implemented in regional, national or cross-border contexts. Lessons learnt and recommendations include the following:
- Central database: must have an underlying error-free and up-to-date central civil status database. Use of unique identifier, such as a national ID number, to link every record to its legitimate holderÂ is advisable.
- Data protection: written request by the users clearly stating legitimate authorization in writing. Careful evaluation of private sector requests.
- Think interoperability: the system must use interoperable solutions that are easy to apply and integrate with the user agencies. Cooperate with other agencies prior implementation.
- Maintenance: timely solutions to problems and maintenance are of paramount importance for the continuation of such a fundamental service. Have a dedicated unit for this.
- Benefits: G2G, G2B and G2C benefits virtually incalculable â€“ expected 4 billion enquiries in 2009 alone, which previously had to be done by traditional correspondence. Tremendous savings in costs and time for all stakeholders.