PA Awards 2022 Winners
ReSPA, in partnership with OECD/SIGMA, announced three Winners and eight initiatives that deserved Special Recognition at the Ceremony held on 15th September in Skopje, North Macedonia.
As the motto of this year’s contest was “A leap to better citizen’s lives in the Western Balkans”, awarded initiatives have been recognized as examples of future-oriented, inspirational practices that provide improved services for better lives of our citizens in the region.
We proudly present this year's Winners and Special recognitions of the PA Awards 2022:
Winner: Administration for Inspection Affairs of Montenegro
Initiative: “Central Information System for Consumer Protection (CISCP)”
The Administration for Inspection Affairs of Montenegro is a Contact Point for system-designed software https://potrosac.me which is an open-source solution for processing consumers' complaints and ensuring that they are addressed by competent authorities. Out of 1.333 submissions related to consumer protection during the last twelve months, 1.067 was resolved (80.04%), while 266 are in the process of being resolved (19.96%). The software is a great combination of different approaches to improving legislation on consumer protection, IT solution and raising awareness of the rights of consumers. Its services are aligned with CEFTA chapter 28 on consumer protection and contribute as such to the digital economy. The administration for Inspection Affairs is also planning to conduct an online survey on consumer satisfaction with the CISCP system as the next step.
More info about the Winning initiative can be found in the video https://youtu.be/RUEHQF_DVkI
Winner: Central Registry of the Republic of North Macedonia on behalf of the Management Board of the Regional Portal BIFIDEX, comprised of 5 jurisdictions from the Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina-Republic of Srpska, Montenegro and Republika Srpska
Initiative: BIFIDEX - Beyond National - one-stop shops services through their digitalization and interoperability in the Western Balkans Region
BIFIDEX platform is a regional platform for business and financial data analytics on companies in the Western Balkans, which provides access to the status and financial data of 1.5 million legal and natural persons from official registries in Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska). Data from official registries are obtained in real-time. They are available in all official languages of the platform member states, as well as in English, while financial analytics is enabled in currencies that are in use in the region, as well as in Euros. The platform was launched in 2017. as a regional initiative aimed at increasing transparency and legal security and facilitating business in the wider Western Balkans market. It has a holistic approach with a forward-looking and transferable sustainable pattern. Until now, the platform has 1.079 users with registered accounts and subscriptions, while in the first six months of 2022, 8.482 users visited BIFIDEX and used it with or without a subscription.
More info about the Winning initiative can be found in the video https://youtu.be/f5dP4d0AN7s
Winner: The Office for Information Technologies and eGovernment, Republic of Serbia
Initiative: The rollout of key digital transformation enablers - cloud signature and user-friendly payment service
The unique awarded endeavour of developing key digital enablers for citizens of Serbia consists of two services: Free cloud signature for every (e) Citizen and “Pay” - a user-friendly service for easy and simple payment of fees and taxes.
1. Free cloud signature for every (e)Citizen
The Office for IT and eGovernment started to issue qualified electronic certificates for digital signature in a cloud, free of charge, to all citizens of Serbia and foreign citizens with temporary stay or permanent residence in Serbia. To get their cloud signature, users should register at https://eid.gov.rs, download and install the Consent ID app on their mobile devices (smartphones or tablets), and enrol using activation codes. Upon Consent ID app enrolment, a certificate for authentication is deployed, and users complete the issuance of a cloud-based qualified certificate for electronic signature in a few clicks at https://eid.gov.rs.
There is also a web application for electronic signing in the cloud as a service intended for everyone who wants to sign a pdf or XML document in a fast, simple, reliable and secure way.
Cloud-based qualified electronic certificates of the Office for IT and e-Government and its remote signing service are conformant/compliant with eIDAS Regulation.
Despite being recent (from February 2022), the solution is already working and got 58 thousand activation codes issued from February and around 9 thousand certificates for electronic signature.
The project has been designed by the use of HCD and implemented iteratively and incrementally, aiming to check in each time-boxed phase the minimum viability (usability) of the service number of activation codes and certificates for electronic signature.
Security for all ITE office services is also described within the internal act „Guidelines for service design“ while the code is owned by the IT office, and the app is maintained with the internal resources.
Due to high transferability and sustainable potential, but moreover, with the forward-looking and creative element (the use of Cloud technology) with ease of use and increase of mobility, this initiative has vast potential. With this initiative, the Office of IT and e-Gov of Serbia demonstrated great dedication to the constant improvement of the service (Guidelines for service design internally followed).
2. “Pay” - user-friendly service for easy and simple payment of fees and taxes
The service, aligned with the EU/eIDASa, is simple, efficient and user-friendly e-payment of fees and charges for public services (such as ID card and passport renewal, vehicle registration, obtaining a driving license, etc.), The “Pay” service, available at www.plati.euprava.gov.rs, supports the creation of single payment order (i.e. payment slip) with a unique reference number. Citizens can now have a single payment slip created for a single service and pay electronically with cards or integrated electronic banking, as well as at counters of banks and post offices.
The need for proof of payment in paper form has been eliminated completely, and all stakeholders involved in the payment procedure (individuals and legal entities, public service providers, treasury, and banks) have all necessary payment-related information as well as the ability to check the payment status.
Currently, 300 services are covered, no limits to adding more to the system. ‘Pay’ is the service which makes payment much more user-friendly, although the infrastructure behind it remains the same. The service was tested before launch through focus groups that tested the prototype solution.
Constant improvement of the service in the mindset of the Office of IT and e-Gov of Serbia: currently working on the notification engine which would inform the users that what they submitted to the government (application, payment etc.) was received successfully;
More info about the Winning initiative can be found in the video https://youtu.be/Z6UaLEiWkoA
Special Recognition for the trust in public administration
Institution: Public Procurement Commission of Albania
Initiative: Electronic complaint submission system (E-complaint)
Initiative demonstrating a dedication to improving the functioning of public administration, forward-looking and effective. It has tangible results with figures reported on the reductions of complaints and related costs (estimated at 50 USD/complaint), an increase in the quality of complaints, a reduction of the duration of handling the case as well a reduction of a possible waiting list. Another result is also that while before the project, 30-40% of the complaints were not handled within the statutory deadline, currently, the figure is only around 9%. Another positive outcome is the reduction of appeals. while the percentage of appeals of the decisions of the PPC in 2020 was 9.8%, now it is less than 5%. All the process is fully digitalized, simple and tracking accessible, and transparent throughout the process. International standards have been applied to make the portal accessible to vulnerable groups. It has received first international interest, such as from the EC in their Albanian country report. A showcase for trust building in a very special area of government services. i.e. public procurement.
Special Recognition for transparency in public administration
Institution: Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Initiative: Web platform e-Consultations
The Ministry of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the first state body in Bosnia and Herzegovina to have implemented the Rules of the Council of Ministers of BiH for Consultations in the Drafting of Legal Regulations. With this initiative, since 2017, all interested citizens and legal persons have had an opportunity to directly participate in drafting and commenting on the legal regulations, being better informed, resulting in higher trust of citizens in the law- and decision-making of the strategic policies. The users do not solely include the citizens but also legal entities, representing a higher number of real users is higher. Inclusivity has been considered an important factor in rewarding this initiative, as consultation is made not only through the e-Consultation platform but also via other means. It has high potential for transferability within the country, CBC and region-wide, with the first adaptation by actors in Serbia. The incentive contributed to the change of the culture as an additional positive effect. Its code is owned by the Government, and the maintenance is secure by the applicant organization, which ensures the sustainability of the project. Finally, this initiative is an inspiring case for the bigger puzzle of e-Participation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Special Recognition for following good practices and adding new authentic features
Institution: The Ministry of Scientific and Technological Development, Higher Education and Information Society of Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Initiative: Electronic registration of a child in the Republic of Srpska-e-Baby
It is the very first incentive that covers up the entire service life event in Bosnia and Herzegovina, initiated during Covid times and addressing a very important social issue, the birth of a child and its related administrative obligations and services. The most important results achieved are 1) less time spent by parents to register a newborn and 2) collecting more accurate data in this process.
It is a digitalized service where the ICT platform is owned by the public sector and has been developed with general state funds. Thus, maintenance costs are not relevant, and the sustainability of the project is guaranteed. The results of the pandemic times in 2021 reached a quarter of the potential target group, i.e. about 2.500 births. It contains a PPP component since the engagement of private hospitals and private post services are considered. Finally, the project is a real showcase of transferability or adoption of best practices.
Special Recognition for Green Local Initiative
Institution: Capital City Podgorica, Montenegro
This initiative (web portal) aims to quickly counterattack and mobilize resources (money and volunteers) in response to a disaster situation, the fire-destruction of a city’s environmental space (hill) and its re-creation. It is embedded in an overall political strategy and priority of the Mayor, who exercises strong leadership in widening openness and transparency for the city population. The portal was developed in-house, since the city has its own developers. Still, it also engaged with other stakeholders, such as the City Agency for Urban Protection, to design the initiatives. As a consequence of its popularity, it has a very strong social media presence and focuses on the city, possessing approx. 30K in Viber, one of the most followed in the entire country. The voluntary work of the population to re-create the hill and donate money leads to co-ownership of the restored area. The city administration sees every volunteer as a “ranger” to protect the hill in the future. This very green-minded initiative on behalf of the Mayor brought the City of Podgorica also other recognitions, such as being now placed 5th position in the European City for the Green Urban Awards by the EU Environmental Agency and forming part of the 100 Net Zero Cities of the EU´s Mission “100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030”
Special Recognition for back-end enabler for digital transformation/initiative with a strong adaptability factor
Institution: Ministry of Information Society and Administration of North Macedonia
Initiative: National Population Register
The National Population Register is the backbone of the National Portal of e-services. All forms in the portal are prefilled with data from the National Population Registries. The project works as a database, which integrates data from several registers, consolidate them using Artificial Intelligence (AI), and sends automatic messages to the owners of the registers, informing them about discrepancies. Data generated by the National Population Register are used for the design of different e-services. Currently, it shows 0 errors in data processing and sharing occurred since National Population Register was put in force with the AI solution. The code is owned by the government, and the servers are locally based. The National Population Register has increased the satisfaction of data users since put in force. Having in mind all circumstances/challenges, the incentive confirms readiness for a proactive approach and flexible solutions.
Joint Special Recognition for Youth empowerment and employment and for retaining young talents
Institutions: Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Republic of Serbia and Human Resource Management Service, Republic of Serbia
Initiatives: The Student Professional Practice in Public Administration Fair Candidates Corner
The Student Professional Practice in Public Administration Fair
Two-way communication and relationship between five Universities and public institutions are well-designed, and the increased number of institutions participating in the initiative is evident. Last year 18 bodies participated in the initiative, while this year, more than 70 bodies are expected to be included in the project.
The number of institutions involved in the project and the fact that there were about 37,000 online visitors during the first fair is more than enough reasons to evaluate this project as sustainable and prosperous.
In this way, the initiative increased the visibility and attractiveness of the public sector as a desired employer among young people. Even more, it makes the public sector attractive and supports retaining young talents in Serbia.
The fact that the project is accessible and inclusive for students and that they participated in its design, creation and implementation from the very beginning is another reason for receiving special recognition.
Last but not least, what is very important is the possibility of replicating successful practices, which is precisely what this project offers. Its replicability and synergy with similar programs are evident in the country and abroad.
The project has not only the purpose of “centralizing” all vacancies for public jobs but also of developing the right skills (before application) via tutorials, videos etc. It is also open to all interested and especially unemployed Serbian citizens, with a large share and audience of the young population. This results from a very proactive approach in terms of communication, with a weekly plan (dissemination), utilizing a Viber channel with 1800 participants, in addition to the use of social media such as Tik-Tok and Youtube. A focus is also on a simplified administrative language in their communications. Close cooperation is exhibited due to the same thematic area with the Unemployment Agency of the country as well as another submitted PA Award project from Serbia (7006 The Student Professional Practice in PA Fair).
We admire the dedication and internal drive of the HRMS in trying to improve the image of the public sector, and this project serves as a tool to make the public sector look more modern and user-friendly.
Special Recognition for accessibility of public administration and public services
Institution: City Municipality of Vračar, Republic of Serbia
Initiative: Inter-municipal cooperation improvement with а aim of strengthening the capacity of the service for mobility and communication support
This two-device initiative, of which one is a web portal - a platform in terms of one single point of contact- and an INFO FOR ALL App offers information not only on public services but also useful info for people with disabilities (e.g. transport, weather, etc.). One of the specific goals of the strategy of this initiative is to fully respect gender equality, age (the young, the elderly), and all vulnerable groups. Besides disaster prevention and disaster management, accessibility of the Municipality of Vračar covers up a wider accessibility strategy with an already 2nd action plan put in force covering up public space, public facilities and communication aspects.
A special feature of the project is that three permanent employees (persons with disabilities) have job tasks related to service design (inclusive) and quality assurance, including satisfaction surveys. Own funding secured by the state funds as well as by other donors (project implemented by Standing Conference of towns and municipalities).
Special Recognition for enhanced adaptability
Institution: Tax Administration of Kosovo*
Initiative: Taxpayer/administration Portal - EDI
Holistically designed and implemented the initiative, this initiative includes communication and engagement of a wide spectrum of customers such as the of Chambers of Commerce, Professional (e.g. Accountants) associations. EDI system is code owned and maintained by the Tax authority and has a 97% of the service digitalized. This year (2022), they are already moving to digital for all tax returns. However, they maintain Physical Tax Payer Corners in all 7 tax offices, giving support to the citizens who are not enough IT literate or do not have the access to e-service on their own. Adaptable solution – As the software application platform (integrated with the information system) EDI for tax declarations and management was completely programmed in-house, the team of the Tax Office during COVID in 15 calendar days was able to adapt the EDI platform to offer a new service. The companies could apply on behalf of their employees to get subsidies related to the suspension of labour contracts during the pandemic. This is a great example of adaptability;
Finally, this initiative proved good (side) effort or effects in terms of knowledge management, documentation of the software to deal with programmers leaving to the public sector, and retraining them (talent) in the public sector.