Interoperability in Croatia: the e-Citizens project (e-Citizens)

Published on: 13/07/2015
Last update: 05/10/2017
Document

The e-Citizens project unifies Croatia's citizens' access to eGovernment services. It was launched by the Croatian Government in order to modernise, simplify and speed up communication between citizens and the public administration, enhance user-centricity and increase the transparency of the public sector in providing public services. 

Policy Context

The project was prepared in accordance with the European Interoperability Framework and the Law on the State Information Infrastructure (Official Gazette 92/2014). The Law defines the e-Citizens platform as a single point of contact for citizens and states that all e-services of public sector bodies have to be integrated into the platform.

Description of target users and groups

Citizens.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The e-Citizens system consists of:

  • the Central Government Portal which is the public part of the system
  • the Personal User Mailbox 
  • the National Identification and Authentication System.

These components provide secure and advanced electronic communication with the public sector, and the Personal User Mailbox provides direct access to public administration services and for the receipt of personal electronic messages from public administration.

The Personal User Mailbox is also available as an application for smart phones Android, iPhone / iPad and Windows Phone. In the Personal user box, users can receive 37 different types of messages from public sector bodies, such as reminders of expiring documents, balance of payments of supplementary health insurance, information on verification of data in the state registers or information on scheduled hearings in court. Electronic services available through the Personal User Mailbox include:

  • request electronic extracts from the register of births, marriages, nationalities (the documents have an electronic seal)
  • verify registration to vote in the electoral register
  • register to vote on chosen polling stations (active only during election periods) 
  • request of electronic extracts from the register of permanent and part time residence
  • request electronic extracts from the register of car ownership
  • find out about one’s child's grades at school
  • verify the registered General Practitioner, dentist and gynaecologist
  • order a European Health Insurance Card
  • overview of drug prescriptions for the past 6 month including cost
  • request an electronic employment booklet
  • find out how much pension you can expect to receive
  • register as a potential employee
  • verify the amount of contributions paid into the Second Pillar of pension insurance and obtain the yearly pension fund certificate 
  • check the tax account card
  • get an overview of all  receipts, income tax and surtax for mandatory insurance 
  • check personal data in the OIB system (the central data exchange system and the issuer of the Personal Identification Number ID)
  • manage one’s electronic identity

Technology solution

Citizens

The technology solution on the user side is based on applying for electronic credentials and creating a Personal User Mailbox. Electronic credentials issued in branches of the Financial Agency are:

  • ePass username and password – you can ask for one at the appropriate desks in  branches of the Financial Agency (FINA) 
  • mToken - an application created by CARNet for smart phones; you can ask for one at the appropriate desks  in branches of the Financial Agency (FINA)

Electronic credentials which can be used immediately for accessing the e-Citizens system are:

  • a smart card from the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance
  • a username and password from the AAI@EDU system (under the competence of the University Computing Centre)
  • mToken used for Internet banking at the Croatian Post Bank
  • username and password used at the Croatian Post

The electronic credentials issued by the Ministry of Interior are the electronic ID cards with identification and signature certificate, available from beginning of June 2015 (mandatory for any new ID card). 

An integration is foreseen shortly with one of the biggest banks in Croatia, enabling users of their internet banking system to use all e-Citizens services without needing new credentials.

Back office

The complete documentation for the integration of e-services with the Personal User Mailbox and the National Identification and Authentication System is published on the web site of gov.hr. This documentation is used by institutions that develop new e-services. 

The National Identification and Authentication System was developed based on the documents published for the STORK project by the STORK-eID Consortium. STORK is a platform which allows people to use their national electronic ID to establish new e-relations with foreign electronic services. The identification mechanism is based on the interconnection with the OIB base registry. 

Operational data

The project started under the sponsorship of the president of the Committee for the Implementation of IT in the Public Sector, Ms Milanka Opačić, and the Assistant Minister Mr Parić responsible for the e-Croatia Directorate, part of the Ministry of Public Administration. 

The e-Croatia Directorate with a core of 3 people was leading the project team, composed of 18 people from the state/City of Zagreb owned IT company APIS-IT and 15 people from FINA, a state owned agency. In total, 16 institutions worked on the development of e-services and e-messages for the Personal User Mailbox.

Technology choice: Standards-based technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

Legacy

Most government information systems were built and operated applying the silos principle. The OIB (Osobni identifikacijski broj - personal identification number) system  has been introduced as a system that integrates data of all physical and legal persons and adds a personal identification number to them. It was functioning as a closed system of the Ministry of Finance, in the Tax Administration. There was no unified system of sharing data between basic registers and no policy of sharing data between the registers of the various ministries. Data sharing was an exception. There was no standardized framework providing e-services to citizens.

Rational

The rationale behind the e-Citizens project is that citizens are usually contacting State institutions in person at counters. The State had no single point of contact on the Internet to provide efficient services. Unlike the State, banks offer a full range of services on the Internet through e-banking systems.  Bank customers are more satisfied and banks are saving resources on everything – from paperwork and service time to working hours. The conclusion was therefore that if a bank can process hundreds of million Kunas (1 Croatian Kuna equals EUR 0.13) through the Internet daily, then state e-infrastructure should be able to exchange data from / between its own registers to offer efficient e-services to citizens.

The Law on the State Information Infrastructure was introduced to regulate the interconnection of IT systems of different public sector bodies. It obliges these bodies to interconnect and exchange data among each other, in the back office. Citizens do not need to know which institution is responsible for which public service.  

The OIB system was set up as a central national location for sharing information of the basic registers between of all state institutions. This was a precondition for initiating the e-Citizens project. 

Additionally to interconnecting the registries, a project for creating a central national portal of the Government for all the ministries gov.hr was launched. 

Savings

E-services support modernisation of the state, but also generate savings. One registered post mail item of 50 grams in which the State sends for example an answer, decision, request for additional documentation, costs KUN 11.40 (about EUR 1,5). The State annually spends approximately KUN 180 million (about EUR 23,7 million) on postal delivery services. Most of it can be delivered in an electronic mailbox. 

As another example, for 43 000 new-born children in Croatia each year, parents spent about 158 000 hours and pay approximately KUN 4.14 million (about EUR 500 000) for various fees regarding children's administrative documents and at the same time they pay around KUN 950 000 (about EUR 125 000) for parking in Zagreb.

Efficient processes

The e-Citizens project is a major step forward in the modernization of public administration. A direct benefits of this system is the huge acceleration of all administrative procedures and processes in terms of document management for the State and for users, which leads to increased satisfaction of all system users.

Return on investment

At this moment all services via the e-Citizens platform are free of charge but a payment method will be developed.  The project was financed with State budget, and the return on investment comes from the savings made on time and money spent by the citizens using e-services. 

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Lessons learnt

The project reports two important lessons. Interoperability at the identification level has the strong potential to improve ease of use of e-services for end users and enables the interconnection of different systems and different services. 

In the next phases, thanks to the interconnection of registers, additional services with more complexity will be developed.

Scope: National

Categorisation

Type of document
General case study

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