Public bodies’ existing work on putting information and transactional services online was affirmed and they were encouraged to provide a prominent ‘online services’ section on their website. Several organisations have done so. Transactional services should be grouped around life events where possible and be available across organisational boundaries where that is relevant and feasible.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is to be notified of any existing or new services to be included or referenced on www.gov.ie
E-payment, e-procurement and e-invoicing are being promoted. The latter is provided by the Department of Health e.g. sending remittance advice notices by email and paying all suppliers by electronic funds transfer.
Reviews of existing web services have determined the scope for ‘app’ based or mobile-optimised solutions, especially in agriculture, tourism and taxi services. All public bodies must develop a social media policy and explain, in a short plan, how they will maximise the potential of social media to improve access to services.
Meeting real needs
Social networking and online collaborative tools can help citizens and businesses to understand how public services are delivered and to suggest improvements. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) is considering options for an ‘electronic channel’ to improve engagement with citizens.
Public services cards allow citizens to view their information and access services. Incentives to encourage the take-up of electronic services could include lower fees, faster processing times and later closing dates (compared to paper-based services). The aim is to ensure that 50 per cent of citizens and 80 per cent of businesses use online services by 2015.
Ireland was making a good start on releasing data but more needed to be provided in a machine-readable format. Datasets should be organised and released by default (subject to data protection, official secrets, commercial sensitivity and other restrictions). Decisions can be appealed to DPER. A code of practice and standards for gathering and using data for statistical purposes was published in November 2013.
Digital mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) offer considerable potential, including the scope for better forward planning. Pioneers in this area include the Central Statistics Office (using census data) and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (for rural payment services).
Public bodies are encouraged to share location-based datasets and maximise the benefits of postcodes when introduced in 2015.
Identity and authentication
DPER has developed a ‘single customer view’ where key information about a citizen is available in one place for use by public bodies. The public services card continues to be rolled out and the Government wants to see it being used across all policy areas. Organisations must not use alternative cards unless they have a very strong reason for doing so, agreed with DPER. The Revenue Commissioners will provide technology solutions which allow public bodies to match and/or synchronise business-related data against the Revenue Register.
Integration and governance
Where data will be used across several public services, they will be collected at a single point of capture. One example is the Criminal Justice Integration Project which transfers summonses applications from gardaí electronically to the Courts Service. New eGovernment services will operate in ways that facilitate data sharing between organisations. Public bodies will, where possible, make commonly requested data available for re-use across government.
• Put the needs of citizens and businesses at the centre
• Deliver public services through the most appropriate channels
• Reduce the administrative burden
• Reflect business process improvements
• Make the online channel the most attractive option