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Ireland

Improve Access To Government Services Through Technology (IE0039)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Ireland National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform & Department of Social Protection

Support Institution(s): All government departments and public bodies

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Ireland End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Ireland Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Objective: To improve services to our citizens through enhanced use of technology. Status quo: The global technological shift has increased both the demand and expectation for Governments to make it simpler for citizens to use services through technology and digital platforms. Citizens expect their Government to harness technology and to build solutions that are shared across the public service. There is an increasing demand for reduced duplication of effort to make the citizen’s transactions with the State easier, more flexible, and less time consuming. Ambition: The Government will champion the role of new technology and drive innovation by making it easier for citizens to engage with the State. This ambition will include meeting citizens’ demands for digital services by introducing readily accessible, intuitive, and secure applications. These solutions will increase service speed, effectiveness, and will create better value for money in the provision of public services. The Government will meet this ambition by eliminating duplication of engagement through a single customer view using a ‘tell us once’ principle; by replacing multiple Government issued cards with one safe and secure smart Public Services Card, making the citizen’s engagement with the State quicker and more seamless. The Government’s ICT strategy will provide enhanced outcomes for customers by using a secure Government Network, sharing commonly needed applications across the public service and by implementing a Government Cloud to safely store and maintain data and applications. The State recognises that not all citizens will have the capacity to access digital or web-based solutions and will cater for this too. Lead implementing organisations: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform & Department of Social Protection Timeline: January 2017 to June 2018.
Commitment 6: Improve Access to Government Services through Technology OGP values Civic participation, Public accountability New or ongoing commitment Ongoing Lead implementation organisations Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, OGCIO, Department of Social Protection Other actors involved - government All government departments and public bodies Verifiable and measurable milestones to fulfil the commitment New or ongoing Start date End date The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer will continue to work with the Department of Social Protection to increase the uptake of MyGovID and the Public Services Card, including its use by Government agencies, and to develop the SAFE authentication model. This will also enable Citizens to access Government services online with confidence. Ongoing June 2018 Create a Government service gateway or portal. The gateway would initially be a means of directing the service user, especially where they are new users of Government services, to the services they require. The portal would then be used to present new or less well known information or services and be the means for single sign-on/authentication and verification/update of general information (e.g. simple address information), using the “tell us once” principle. Ongoing June 2018.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

6. Improve Access to Government Services Through Technology

Commitment Text:

Objective: To improve services to our citizens through enhanced use of technology.

Status quo: The global technological shift has increased both the demand and expectation for Governments to make it simpler for citizens to use services through technology and digital platforms. Citizens expect their Government to harness technology and to build solutions that are shared across the public service. There is an increasing demand for reduced duplication of effort to make the citizen’s transactions with the State easier, more flexible, and less time consuming.

Ambition: The Government will champion the role of new technology and drive innovation by making it easier for citizens to engage with the State. This ambition will include meeting citizens’ demands for digital services by introducing readily accessible, intuitive, and secure applications. These solutions will increase service speed, effectiveness, and will create better value for money in the provision of public services.

The Government will meet this ambition by eliminating duplication of engagement through a single customer view using a ‘tell us once’ principle; by replacing multiple Government issued cards with one safe and secure smart Public Services Card, making the citizen’s engagement with the State quicker and more seamless. The Government’s ICT strategy will provide enhanced outcomes for customers by using a secure Government Network, sharing commonly needed applications across the public service and by implementing a Government Cloud to safely store and maintain data and applications.

The State recognises that not all citizens will have the capacity to access digital or web-based solutions and will cater for this too.

Milestones:

6.1. The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer will continue to work with the Department of Social Protection to increase the uptake of MyGovID and the Public Services Card, including its use by Government agencies, and to develop the SAFE authentication model. This will also enable Citizens to access Government services online with confidence.

6.2. Create a Government service gateway or portal. The gateway would initially be a means of directing the service user, especially where they are new users of Government services, to the services they require. The portal would then be used to present new or less well known information or services and be the means for single sign-on/authentication and verification/update of general information (e.g. simple address information), using the 'tell us once' principle.

Responsible institutions: Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Department of Social Protection

Supporting institution(s): N/A

Start date: January 2017

End date: June 2018

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to increase the uptake of the Public Services Card (PSC). The PSC was created in 2012[Note: On this, please see: ‘What is the Public Services Card?’, TheJournal.ie, 9 May 2012,

http://www.thejournal.ie/what-is-the-public-services-card-443305-May2012/. ] to replace other government-issued cards such as the free travel pass and social services card. Ireland’s first action plan included a commitment to improve the PSC, resulting in the creation of an online self-scheduling service to help customers book their own appointments to get the card. This commitment expands on the previous action plan by seeking to extend the use of the PSC even further amongst the population and by using the PSC as a foundation for citizens to use MyGovID, the portal for accessing government services online, such as social welfare payments and Revenue service.[Note: Available at: https://www.mygovid.ie/. ] By so doing, this commitment also aims to reduce the amount of times users need to give their personal information on government portals/websites. The commitment also calls for the creation of a new ‘Digital Services gateway’ to direct new users to services they require, and eventually serve as a single sign-on/authentication and verification of general information.

Milestone 6.1 on the MyGovID does not directly pertain to any OGP values because it plans to increase the uptake of the MyGovID and the Public Services Card without consulting users or improving access to information through their use. Milestone 6.2 calls for the new gateway to present ‘new or less well known information or services’ to the public, and is thus relevant to access to information and technology and innovation. Milestone 6.1 includes actions that are verifiable such as developing the Standard Authentication Framework Environment (SAFE) authentication model, but does not fully define how exactly it will increase the use of PSC and MyGovID amongst government agencies. Milestone 6.2 presents a reasonably specific roadmap for developing the new gateway portal, but the ‘new information and services’ that will be made available on the portal remain unclear. Therefore, the overall specificity for the commitment is marked as medium. If fully implemented, the commitment’s milestones could allow users of the PSC, MyGovID, and the new gateway to more easily and efficiently authenticate their identity. However, there is no means to guarantee that services received will improve. For example, one may be able to apply for social welfare payments more efficiently with the PSC and MyGovID, but there is no guarantee that the state will process payments more quickly or efficiently. It is also unclear how the information presented on the MyGovID will differ from the information that will be on the new government service portal for Milestone 6.2. Therefore, the overall potential impact is marked as minor.

Completion

There has been substantial progress on Milestone 6.1 and limited progress of Milestone 6.2 during the first year of the action plan. Both are on schedule.

The IRM researcher ‘tested’ the system by applying for an individual PSC, and spoke with the government official with whom an appointment was made to get the PSC. Making an appointment to get the card and receiving the card (which took approximately two weeks after the appointment) were both fairly efficient processes, and the social welfare office staff (in Dublin city centre) was helpful in explaining what the card was, emphasising how the SAFE authentication model allowed residents of Ireland with the card to access government services in a secure environment. Explanation was also given why the PSC is different from other national ID cards found in other EU states. The PSC now has close to 3 million users, and there are a wide range of services found on the website of MyGovID.[Note: On the PSC, please see: http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Public-Services-Card_holder.aspx and on the services available on MyGovID, please see: https://www.mygovid.ie/availableServices/AvailableServices.%5D For Milestone 6.2, the government developed its Digital Services Gateway as indicated in the government’s progress report. Its overall progress remains limited, however, because the Gateway was not fully launched in the first year of the plan, although it is expected to take place in the second year.

While it was reported in the press that the state launched a €200,000 PSC promotional campaign,[Note: Elaine Edwards, ‘Government plans €200,000 public services card campaign’, Irish Times, 22 October 2017, https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/government-plans-200-000-public-services-card-campaign-1.3265101. ] in October 2017 the Data Protection Commissioner opened a formal investigation into whether the PSC actually complies fully with the law.[Note: Elaine Edwards, ‘Data watchdog to open investigation into public services card,’ Irish Times, 20 October 2017, https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/data-watchdog-to-open-investigation-into-public-services-card-1.3263567.%5D In the context of the ‘biometric data processing and governance and data issues’ that are associated with the actions, the main concern of the Commissioner was that ‘large-scale government projects without a specific legislative underpinning posed challenges in terms of the transparency to the public and the uses to which their personal data was now being applied.’[Note: Taken from: https://www.dataprotection.ie/docs/EN/30-08-2017-Data-Protection-Commisisoners-Statement-on-the-Public-Services-Card/m/1651.htm. ] Some citizens expressed concerns over whether the PSC could be used as a national identity card, something which many Irish are against, even though many EU member states have such cards. Government leaders at the highest level have sought to dispel this misperception, clearly stating that the PSC is not a national identity card and dismissing concerns that there are potentially negative implications for privacy and data protection.[Note: For opposing views on this see: (a) ‘anti-card’ view found at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/state-must-justify-introduction-of-public-services-card-1.3211434 and (b) state defense, or ‘pro-card’ view https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2017/0831/901203-public-services-card/. A relatively balanced article on the issue can be found on: https://www.thesun.ie/news/1462486/what-is-the-new-public-services-card-what-do-we-need-it-for-and-how-do-we-get-it/.%5D

Early Results

It is hard to state if there is evidence of changes in government practice per se, but there are indications of increased uptake in the number of PSC users. As reported in the End of Term IRM report for the 2014–16 action plan, around 2 million cards had been issued by June 2016. The Irish Times reported that the number by the end of 2017 was 2.8 million.[Note: Most recent data is based figures reported by Edwards, ‘Data watchdog to open investigation into public services card.’] This represents an increase of around 40 percent between the two reporting periods.

Next Steps

Both milestones will likely be implemented by the end of the action plan period, and will not need to be taken forward. However, the IRM researcher recommends the government further address concerns over the potential misuse of personal data. The IRM researcher also recommends that the government provide greater clarity for how the new gateway will add value to citizens.

IRM End of Term Status Summary


Ireland's Commitments

  1. Promote Transparent Climate Policy Development

    IE0031, 2016, Environment and Climate

  2. Support Public Participation Networks

    IE0032, 2016, Capacity Building

  3. Improve Access to Justice: Reducing Costs

    IE0033, 2016, Judiciary

  4. Improve Access to Justice: Framework to Assist Vulnerable Persons

    IE0034, 2016, Judiciary

  5. Improve Access to Justice: Oversight of Legal Practitioners

    IE0035, 2016, Justice

  6. Enhance Citizen Engagement in Policy Making: General

    IE0036, 2016, Capacity Building

  7. Enhance Citizen Engagement in Policy Making: Youth

    IE0037, 2016, Marginalized Communities

  8. Enhance Customer Engagement

    IE0038, 2016, Capacity Building

  9. Improve Access To Government Services Through Technology

    IE0039, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Participatory Budgeting

    IE0040, 2016, Participation in Budget Processes

  11. Improve Transparency of Government Service Providers

    IE0041, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  12. Enhance Fiscal Transparency

    IE0042, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  13. Introduce Modern Document Management Procedures

    IE0043, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  14. Develop an Open Data Strategy 2017-2020

    IE0044, 2016, E-Government

  15. Invest in Data Infrastructure that will result in better Open Data

    IE0045, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  16. Starred commitment Develop a Code of Practice for the Governance of Charities

    IE0046, 2016,

  17. Starred commitment Public Sector Standards Bill

    IE0047, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  18. Establish a Register of Beneficial Ownership

    IE0048, 2016, Asset Disclosure

  19. Establishment of best practice standards for Open Data

    IE0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  20. Establishment of Ireland’s Open Data Platform

    IE0002, 2014, E-Government

  21. Undertake an audit of key datasets for publication

    IE0003, 2014, Open Data

  22. Establish a roadmap for the Open Data and an evaluation framework to provide assessment of the ongoing Open Data

    IE0004, 2014, Open Data

  23. Establishment of an Open Data Ireland Governance Board (ODIGB) and Steering and Implementation Group (SIG) for Open Data Ireland

    IE0005, 2014, Open Data

  24. Signing up to the G8 Open Data Charter

    IE0006, 2014, Open Data

  25. Implementing Open Data

    IE0007, 2014, Open Data

  26. Improve computer literacy through implementation of proposed new Digital Strategy for Schools

    IE0008, 2014, Capacity Building

  27. Review national and international practice to develop revised principles / code for public engagement/consultation with citizens, civil society and others by public bodies.

    IE0009, 2014, Public Participation

  28. Starred commitment Hold referenda arising from the recommendations of the Constitutional Convention

    IE0010, 2014, Gender

  29. Starred commitment Ethics Reform

    IE0011, 2014, Conflicts of Interest

  30. Strengthening Freedom of Information - Implement the Code of Practice for Freedom of Information (FOI).

    IE0012, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  31. Reform of FOI

    IE0013, 2014, Capacity Building

  32. Starred commitment Regulation of Lobbying

    IE0014, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  33. Starred commitment Encourage, Protect and Raise Awareness of Whistleblower Duties and Protections

    IE0015, 2014, Whistleblower Protections

  34. MEASURES TO INCREASE CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN DECISION MAKING ON POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS. Systemic pre-legislative scrutiny of draft bills

    IE0016, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  35. Develop and deliver access to environmental information (AIE) training module for public officials

    IE0017, 2014, Capacity Building

  36. INCREASE CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AT LOCAL LEVEL. Pilot approach to implementation of Public Participation Networks

    IE0018, 2014, Private Sector

  37. Provide legal base for public participation framework in local government

    IE0019, 2014, Capacity Building

  38. Undertake a feasibility study on possible means of enabling further citizen engagement in local authority budgetary processes

    IE0020, 2014, Participation in Budget Processes

  39. SUPPORT CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE AS CITIZENS. Develop, finalise and publish the first Government Strategy on children and young people's participation in decision-making.

    IE0021, 2014, Capacity Building

  40. Maximise participation and understanding of young people in civic life

    IE0022, 2014, Capacity Building

  41. Development of an ICT Strategy

    IE0023, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  42. Data sharing and governance bill

    IE0024, 2014, E-Government

  43. Public Services Card

    IE0025, 2014, E-Government

  44. Single Customer View

    IE0026, 2014, E-Government

  45. Local Government Portal

    IE0027, 2014, E-Government

  46. New Local Enterprise Offices

    IE0028, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  47. Review and enhancement of complaints procedures and using feedback to improve services across the public service; A review of citizen complaints procedures will be undertaken.

    IE0029, 2014, Public Participation

  48. Enhance customer engagement

    IE0030, 2014, Public Participation