The Government Gateway is an integral part of the Public Administration Portal, enabling documents to be sent electronically between citizens/businesses (G2B) and public administration entities (G2G). For all connected public administration entities, delivering documents electronically has lead to a dramatic reduction in paper forms and the related printing and subsequent costs. The savings in efficiency have fully covered the costs of developing and operating the system. The savings in time and money of communicating via the Government Gateway have been passed on to end users, who appreciate the option of submitting their documents electronically.
The Government Gateway service was introduced to illustrate ways of electronically communicating with the public administration. The legislative basis for its services is contained in the following Acts:
- Act No. 365/2000 Coll., Public Administration Information Systems and amendments to certain other acts, Section 6 of which defines submitting data messages to public administration entities using the PAP.
- Act No. 71/1967 Coll., on Administrative Procedure, pursuant to which electronic signatures may be used for submissions.
- Other special acts, e.g. Act No. 582/1991 Coll., on Social Security Organisation and Administration.
From the European aspect, Government Gateway solutions and consequences come under the i2010 European Information Society for growth and employment strategy, as it calls for organisational and procedural changes in many businesses which effect considerable savings and increase productivity, pursuant to Chapter 3 of the Strategy. The integration of the Government Gateway services also made it possible to make processes fully electronic, where paper forms and scanning are no longer required by businesses and the administration. Therefore everyone, citizens, businesses and the public administration can benefit from the specific type of services provided by the Gateway. All these groups can profit from the benefits (time and money savings) which the Government Gateway provides.
The Government Gateway brings benefits to three target groups: citizens, businesses and the public administration. The scope of the services provided means that medium and large enterprises (above 25 employees) and the public administration benefit the most. It has three types of registration: organisations (business, public administration), citizens and proxies (mainly accounting companies). A total of 55 255 users have registered on the Gateway since its start and 30th April 2007.
For the Government Gateway to be widely implemented the co-operation of developers was initially necessary, and then the benefits had to be presented to the business sector. As we were convinced from the beginning that the main role in implementing and expanding it would be played by developers we focused on them and held practical workshops together with the solutionâ€™s technical creators where we provided instructions on how to programme and integrate delivery components into their systems. We then started the developerâ€™s website which included free support and publication of the technical documentation and XML structure.
Co-operation with developers and the technical foundations we provided for them had a synergy affect as individual developers started to convince the business sector of the advantages of using the Government Gateway. Using their positive experiences, system users started to request integrated delivery components themselves which lead to the widespread integration of delivery components into most financial/wages information systems on the market, where a lack of such components is now considered a competitive disadvantage!
Public participation was achieved by informal but effective partnerships between the public administration and commercial entities, who themselves started to promote Government Gateway services and its advantages.
Government Gateway services are accessible via the so-called delivery components which are either provided separately or as integrated parts of various extensive information systems. There are currently a few hundred software products available on the market, which enable delivery via the Government Gateway. These products are available in various environments so that it is possible to use the services irrespective of the type of operating system or financial information system. Delivery components are provided on the market either free of charge or for a small fee, or as components integrated into more extensive systems, e.g. SAP.
Publication of the XML structure and the complete documentation means that anyone can create their own delivery component, and in the event of technical problems top developers are available to give free assistance via the developerâ€™s website.
The Government Gateway is an instrument for submitting documents. As with postal envelopes, each submission may contain from one to many hundreds of forms. Pursuant to the law, careful records are made of submissions made, but it is not possible to look into the content. Since operations began 1 526 274 submissions were made, with electronic submissions growing each year (see Annex No. 2).
The introduction of electronic submissions and its connection to internal information systems has lead to considerable financial and time savings for all the organisations involved and to improvements in data quality, as all submissions are automatically controlled and submissions with errors (typos, incorrect calculations) are immediately returned to the senders.
Using analyses we can calculate the financial savings and efficiency gains of the Government Gateway. ?SSZ data shows that transforming 1 form from paper to electronic format costs at least CZK 10 (â‚¬ 0.35). The receipt of 17 400 736 forms shows savings of CZK 174 007 360, i.e. â‚¬ 6 105 521. For businesses savings can be seen in printing forms (0.0035 â‚¬ / form) and postage costs (0.67 â‚¬ / envelope). In addition to these savings there are also personnel savings for all large companies and accountancy firms for employees who print and send the forms, or deliver them in person. Many companies, such as Toyota Peugeot CitroÃ«n Automobile Czech, s. r. o. (TPCA) cannot imagine communicating with public administration authorities without Government Gateway, as they send nearly 1 200 forms per month to the ?SSZ alone. Without electronic deliveries they would incur losses in work efficiency and the speed of delivering information.
The introduction of the Transaction section also positively influenced growth in the software market in the CR, where many developer companies saw opportunities in developing delivery components and developed user friendly components for which customers were very quickly found. NZ Servis, s. r. o. for example managed to sell 8 000 licences for its programmes which affected its further development, not least by finding new customers.
The actual success of the Government Gateway lies more in the management of the whole project and setting the corresponding processes than in the technical solution itself, even though without its quality the project could not have been realised to the same extent.
A new aspect of the project management was the philosophy employed, whereby developer companies were actively involved and were provided with maximum service, including complete technical documentation and unpaid support (e.g. conferences we held, a developerâ€™s web community was supportedâ€¦). The involvement of individual information systems creators resulted in a synergy marketing effect, whereby the creators of wages/information systems themselves acted as promoters of the Gateway.
The first service connected to the Government Gateway was Pension Insurance Records Certificates (PIRC) sent to the ?SSZ. After the success of this service in pilot operations a second service was launched â€“ registration and de-registration for sickness insurance. These two services subsequently acted as best-practices for other public administration entities, who showed interest in using the Government Gateway themselves. These organisations were fully aware of the benefits joining up could bring to them and their clients. The introduction of Government Gateway services at the ?SSZ enabled internal organisational changes to be made in the organisation which lead to more efficient performance and savings of a number of million EUR. Indirectly the PIRC service also bought benefits to citizens and full electronic processing of data provided the foundation for access to individual accounts for insurance holders.
The open publication of the source code and introduction of free software support also considerably stimulated the CR ICT market, with the vast majority of financial/wages information system developers starting to offer PAP delivery components in their products. As there are now over 200 companies offering delivery components we can say that the Government Gateway has created a new segment in the software market.
The expansion of submitting documents via the Government Gateway has also influenced growth in the market for qualified certificates for electronic signatures, as statistics show there is a correlation between registered Gateway users and the issuance of qualified certificates (see Annex No. 3). Companies also use these certificates for other communications, both B2B, and B2G, and therefore support electronic communications development overall.
The Government Gateway can be easily implemented in other countries that show an interest. The solutionâ€™s success however could not have been achieved without the following experiences. These can be used as examples and guidelines for other countries:
Lesson 1 - Do not force people to use your solution, but provide them with benefits which will convince them to use it. If companies can achieve financial and time savings using your solution they will want to use it themselves!
Lesson 2 - Convince as many public administration entities as possible of the benefits so they will use your solution. Initially select an extensive agenda which involves the largest number of public administration customers (e.g. PIRC, health and social security insurance, statistical reporting). Then help to integrate your solution into the internal processes of the given organisation, so that optimal savings are realised. This means eliminating redundant elements such as transcribing and scanning by providing the automatic transfer of information directly into the organisationâ€™s internal systems!
Lesson 3 - Publish complete technical documentation and provide free support to developers! Having provided the benefits (point 1) companies will demand the solution from their suppliers themselves and your solution will then stimulate the market for ICT products.