e-Governmental Portal Awareness and Mobile Application (RS0008)
The use of ICT in the public administration system is directly related to improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of the system. Specifically, ICT provides development of all segments of the public administration, their interconnection and cooperation and the fulfillment of the objectives related to access and availability of information of public interest.
Greater use of e-Government portal by the interested public shall contribute to more efficient and transparent work of state administration and also other parts of public administration. To have an effective portal it is necessary to continuously train civil servants and employees in other areas of public administration to use it to its full capacity. Also, it is necessary to promote functionality and services that portal can provide to citizens and businesses, as well as to employees in public administration.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 8. E-government portal awareness and mobile application
1. Raising awareness and knowledge regarding the operation and use of eGovernment portal:
a. training for all categories of portal users (processors, persons which generate services, users from technical inspection, driving schools that use the system, appointed individuals from public authorities that sets public hearings, etc ...).
b. General training of civil servants on e-government and e-Government portal.
c. Implementation of promotional activities and campaigns regarding the eGovernment portal.
2. Improving eGovernment Portal to enable the use by mobile phones and other mobile devices:
a. development of applications for mobile phones by which it will be possible to access and use the portal through a mobile phone
Responsible Institution(s): Ministry of E-Government
Supporting Institution(s): Human Resources Management Office; CSOs
Start Date: Ongoing End Date: Ongoing
This commitment intended to increase the number of stakeholders using the Serbian public administration system’s online public services, the e-government portal.
One of the activities this commitment proposed, trainings for portal users and civil servants, was completed substantially in the first year. However, awareness-raising through promotional activities and campaigns led to a lack of specificity in the commitment as well as the inability to assess the impact of these activities in the short term. Mobile phone applications were not developed due to budgetary constraints, and it was unclear whether they would be developed in the upcoming period. For more information, see the 2014-2015 Serbian midterm IRM report.
End of term: Substantial
With regards to raising awareness, progress was found in the second year in terms of implementing promotional activities and campaigns. Namely, an analysis of the media coverage of the portal reveals that the portal’s use increased extensively in the past year. This is best demonstrated by the portal’s two-millionth citizen service request in March 2016.[Note 34: “Na Portal eUprava Stigao Dvomilioniti Zahtev [E-Government Portal Receives Two-Millionth Request],” B92, 18 March 2016, http://bit.ly/2fRLDuD] Additionally, for example, from October 2015 to March 2016, the number of registered users increased by almost 12 percent.[Note 35: “Na Portal eUprava Stigao Dvomilioniti Zahtev [E-Government Portal Receives Two-Millionth Request],” http://bit.ly/2fRLDuD] Mobile applications were not developed according to the second milestone. The IRM researchers tried using the portal on both Android and iOS devices and found that, on mobile phones and similar devices, the portal is not user-friendly, is a time-consuming, and is a demanding process. Significant progress could have been made if the e-government portal had been optimized for mobile use; however, given that the e-government portal cannot be accessed easily by mobile phones or other mobile devices,[Note 36: E-Government Portal, Republic of Serbia, http://www.euprava.gov.rs/. ] the overall completion level of this commitment is substantial rather than fully completed.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Major
Civic participation: Marginal
Increasing the use of online public services on the e-government portal in Serbia is a necessary step for removing excessive burdens on citizens, businesses, and civil servants and for enabling more transparent public services. While the completion of the awareness-raising activities created a major boost in the awareness of the portal, as demonstrated through the increased number of users and public service requests on the portal, users cannot access the online services on their mobile devices. However, an ICT expert who has worked with a number of ministries indicated that the application would not necessarily be a successful and cost-efficient strategy because it may not significantly improve accessibility to the online public services or increase the number of citizens using these services.
With regards to the portal, civil society representatives reported different experiences that ranged from successful access to services to failed attempts of using the available services. Failed attempts ended up requiring more of citizens’ time because civil servants in the public administration did not take into account the results of online services (e.g. scheduling a meeting) and required citizens to repeat the process online.[Note 37: These experiences came out of interviews and consultations the IRM researchers had with civil society representatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens, and appear to be more prevalent on the local level, although this was not assessed quantitatively but solely qualitatively.] However, there is a trend of successful services. For example, the service of signing up children for kindergarten in Belgrade[Note 38: “New electronic service - Online Applications for Kindergarten in Belgrade Available from 9 May,” E-Government Portal, 4 May 2016, [Serbian] http://bit.ly/2gaPa8v] was one of the most commended by the media. The service allowed parents to go through the process in one electronic form and without financial costs, which was not the case in previous years where multiple forms needed to be collected and submitted in person.[Note 39: M. Simić Miladinovic, “Onlajn Upis u Vrtiće [Online Applications for Kindergarten],” Politika, 4 May 2016, [Serbian] http://bit.ly/2gyutqA] The way the portal placed emphasis on services more widely used or needed by citizens demonstrates a positive, although marginal, effect on civil participation.
Overall, even with the partial implementation of this commitment, it produced a fairly extensive effect on civic participation and majorly affected access to information, given that the number of awareness-raising promotional activities and trainings significantly affected the level of knowledge and awareness of the online public services available through the e-government portal.
The commitment was not carried forward, nor are other commitments directly related to the e-government portal included in the 2016-2018 action plan, although the e-Government Directorate is in charge of commitment 8, which aims at developing a central Open Data Portal.
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