Local Government Portal (IE0027)
Action Plan: Ireland, First Action Plan, 2014-16
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: Department of Public Expenditure & Reform (DPER)
Support Institution(s): All public bodies involved in the delivery of the commitments
Policy AreasE-Government, Local Commitments
The new Local Government portal localgov.ie has been put in place facilitating one stop shop access for all citizens to all local authority services.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
2.6: Customer improvements to be implemented for citizens through technology (2.6.1, 2.6.2, 2.6.3, 2.6.4, 2.6.5, 2.6.6)
Action 2.6 - Customer improvements to be implemented for citizens through technology
A key driver of the Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016 is to provide better services and outcomes for citizens and service users including:
Development of an ICT Strategy for the Public Service and a Strategic Implementation Plan for the ICT Strategy with a view to achieving a range of improved transactional processes and reducing the administrative burden on citizens. Following collation, analysis and publication of the data on these transactional processes, the ‘Top 20’ service processes across the public sector will be identified for consideration as to how they can be significantly improved through digitalisation. A new Data Sharing and Governance Bill will be developed to enable the improved delivery of digital transactional services. A number of significant improvements will be made through the new Public Services Card including the incorporation of contactless ticketing chips for travel entitlement and new smart card technology. By the end of May 2014, over 730,000 cards had been issued. It is intended that a cumulative target of three million cards will have been issued by the end of 2016. Further services will be reviewed with a view to providing them through use of the Public Services Card Development of a range of new public service applications based on the Single Customer View.The new Local Government portal localgov.ie has been put in place facilitating one stop shop access for all citizens to all local authority services. New Local Enterprise Offices will be established to provide “first-stop-shops” for the micro-enterprise and small business sector to avail of enterprise support services, other direct business supports and coordinated access to other services for business.
Responsible institution: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER)
Supporting institution(s): All public bodies involved in the delivery of the commitments
Start date: August 2014 End date: Q4 2016
Given the six sub-commitments, this action is one of the largest in the plan. It seeks to improve the government services citizens receive through the use of technology. The first sub-commitment promises the development of an ICT strategy to improve transactions and decrease the red tape for citizens when dealing with government. The second is the development of a new Bill on Data Sharing and Governance, whose main objective is to improve data sharing in public service. The third and fourth related initiatives aim to make a number of improvements through a Public Services Card, which would replace other cards such as the free travel pass and social services card. The Public Services Card (PSC) would also establish a Single Customer View (SCV).
SCV is a way to manage customer services, through which service providers can track customer experience, regardless of the communication channel used by the customer to interact with the provider. The SCV is intended to incorporate a range of future customer service applications in the public service. The fifth sub-commitment assures the development of a local government portal to connect citizens with all local government services, including that for making payments. The final sub-commitment establishes Local Enterprise Offices (LEO), which are complementary on-line tools that serve as first-stop shops to support small businesses. This initiative can be seen as particularly crucial, given the impact of the financial and economic crisis on small enterprises, which are at the heart of Ireland’s economy.
As seen in the IRM midterm report, the main achievements by the end of year one are as follows, with substantial completion of the first five sub-commitments:
- The Public Service Strategy was approved by government and launched in January 2015
- A General Scheme (i.e. a broad outline) of the Data and Sharing and Governance Bill was approved by Cabinet, but the passing of legislation is pending.
- The number of Public Service Cards doubled from levels before the action plan, resulting in over 770,000 new cards being issued after May 2014.
- The Local Government Portal was substantially developed, containing links to several local government services and information.
- There were substantial advancements on Local Enterprise Offices during the action plan’s first year, consistent with the strategy to strengthen local business and culture, including €5 million of investment into the over Thirty LEOs across Ireland as discussed in the IRM midterm report.
Concerning the Single Customer View, however, the government’s one-year self-assessment gave few details on what was achieved in the first year.
End of term
A summary of main achievements during the last year of the action plan, as well as remaining steps if relevant, are as follows:
- Action 2.6.1 on the Public Service ICT strategy was substantially completed. By the second quarter of 2016, as indicated in the government self assessment report, progress included building government networks and the development of a common application for all government departments to foster efficiency. As was publicized in the press, there was also the appointment of a new Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO).[Note 31: See Irish Times article: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/government-to-appoint-chief-information-officer-1.2547159 (last accessed September 18, 2016) ] Next steps include said GCIO securing future resources to drive the strategy forward, with an end date for the action set for 2020.
- While progress on Action 2.6.2 was made by beginning the legislative process of submitting the General Scheme of the Data Sharing and Governance Bill, the action was not completed in its entirety as of 30 June 2016. The bill still needs to be submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform for pre-legislative scrutiny (predicted for the end of 2016/early 2017) before being drafted as an official bill. Once this is done, the bill will go through the legislative process, where it will be passed by both the lower and upper houses.
- On the Public Service Card (2.6.3), key achievements included deploying an online self-scheduling service to help customers book their own appointments during the third quarter of 2015. As of June 2016, over 2 million cards have been issued, over 2.5 times the number of cards since the IRM midterm report. Ongoing steps include considering further services for the cards.
- (2.6.5) On the Local Government Portal, since the progress report, it has been further developed. The site is still a work in progress as more services are included in the catalog, and other local government initiatives such as FixYourStreet, MyPlan, CheckTheRegister still need to be integrated.[Note 32: https://www.localgov.ie/en/about/ ] According the government’s end of term report, next steps include adding services to process Fire Certificates and Disability Permits.
- To complement the services of the 30 LEOs established during the first year of the action plan, the government established a new LEO gateway and SME (small and medium enterprises) online tool for small and medium size enterprises,[Note 33: See https://www.localenterprise.ie/ and https://www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Supporting-SMEs-Online-Tool/ (last accessed September 18, 2016)] thereby deeming Action 2.6.6 complete.
Regarding the Single Customer View (SCV) (2.6.4), the government self assessment says this action is complete. However, the full range of services and applications to be developed based on the SCV is not entirely clear, nor is it clear how the SCV approach ‘is in use and being trailed within Public Service Bodies. The IRM researcher was unable to verify substantial progress during the implementation period through desk research or through a URL dedicated to the SCV identified. The government provided further clarification on this commitment stating that the SCV is meant to be a single view of Public Service Identity (PSI) data from across the Public Service. According to the government work has continued after the end of the action plan's implementation period. Currently it allows:
- Public agencies to verify elements of the PSI dataset (verifying Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN), Name, Date of Birth, Address etc. in real-time as they are collected).
- Running of reports comparing (and sharing) datasets between public bodies, leading to improvements in the quality of data held by public bodies.
The government clarified that services on the SCV are available to public bodies only, and access is restricted to these bodies. The SCV is currently deployed and live within a number of public bodies supporting identification verification and quality control. Additionally, due to the internal nature of the SCV, the researcher confirmed the action’s unclear relevance to OGP values.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Marginal
Civic participation: Did not change
Public accountability: Did not change
Taking all the actions (save the SCV) together, five of the six sub-commitments had a moderate potential impact: the ICT Strategy, the Bill on Data Sharing, the changes to the Public Services Card, the Local Government Portal, and the establishment and enhanced functioning of the LEOs. They represented steps forward in terms of the larger context of improving public services through technology. By the end of 2016, the Department of Social Protection had issued about 2 million cards out of an original aim of 3 million. In August 2016, media coverage explained the benefits, guidance, and reasons for obtaining the card.[Note 34: http://www.newstalk.com/What-is-a-Public-Services-Card-and-do-I-need-one ] Overall, it is too early to observe changes in government practices that show improvement in actual service delivery. So far, the changes have helped improve efficiency within public bodies, through the sharing of infrastructures, as seen especially in the ICT strategy, thereby bettering the quality of public services available to citizens and businesses. That said, while rolling out these actions is marginally making information and services more accessible to citizens, it is not entirely clear what possible negative effects (if any) the Public Service Cards will bring in the future. Some media sources like the IrishTimes raised concerns on possible side effects to information privacy, while recognizing the efficiency of the new service.[Note 35: http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/a-national-id-card-by-any-other-name-1.2401882 ] Others have raised concerns on the sustainability of the PSC, as it has already spent more than the original budget allocated for this project.[Note 36: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/department-made-no-business-case-for-public-services-card-c-ag-1.2812095 ]
Some of this cluster was carried forward into the next action. Commitment 6 (Improve Access to Government Services Through Technology) of the new action plan is explicitly related to the development of the public services card (2.6.3).