About eUprava portal
What does the renewed national eGovernment portal bring?
Electronic administration – a concept which should stand for a modern, simple and efficient operation of the public administration. But is this truly the case? Part of this concept is the eUprava (e-Government) portal for electronic services for citizens. The portal has been active for more than 10 years; in this period there were larger or smaller changes, different objectives and ambitions throughout the years. At first it was general state portal for all electronic services in administration; however, recently, it functions only as a general portal for citizens, but not for all, as some areas are part of other specific portals.
But, are citizens satisfied with this situation? What sort of services do the citizens want? Who uses the portal? How can the use of the portal be increased?
Surveys have, in the past years, indicated that the citizens are no longer satisfied with the portal and that they wish better and simpler services and a more user-friendly portal. The EU analyses have shown that the use of the country’s e-services has recently declined rapidly. These were the key points in the renovation project of the citizen’s state eUprava portal .
Renovation starting point
Electronic administration – a concept which should stand for a modern, simple and efficient operation of the public administration. But is this truly the case? Part of this concept is the eUprava portal for e-services for citizens. The portal has been active for more than 10 years. The first version of the portal for citizens was published online, in 2001. The portal was intended for citizens and business entities, as well as, civil servants. The content of the portal was mainly general information on services; however, the first electronic applications which required the use of a digital certificate were slowly added – applications for acquiring an extract from the register of births, marriages and deaths, which could only be submitted to certain administrative units. However, this was a good start for our country’s e-commerce with its citizens.
A more substantial renovation of the portal took place in 2006 when the information was organised into so-called “life events”. Application forms were added to the services, and the number of electronic applications increased considerably. The services within life events were unified, which made it easier for users to search and make use of the services. However, if the users failed to find the right information, they could submit questions which a competent authority answered. The contemporariness and relevance of the portal was also confirmed by the EU surveys and analyses. Consequentially, the e-commerce with the state grew, but not as much as was expected and desired.
The portal analyses indicated some interesting data that served for one of the most influential starting points when planning the recent renovation:
- more than 100 000 users were registered with digital certificates and more than 58 000 were using a UserId/Password. The registered users could set up notifications for documents and other events.
- there were more than 350 services published, organised into life events.
- more than 850 application forms were published in Slovene, Hungarian and Italian. Some forms were published as attachments that the citizens could download and save to their personal computer, fill out and forward to the competent authority.
- at least 100 were most used by the citizens.
- on average 20 000 applications were submitted per year, which may seem considerate, but compared with the number of submitted applications at the administrative authorities (administrative units and Centres for social work), is this number much too low.
- users asked in average 8 000 questions, which is a lot, and indicates that they did not find or understand the services.
The data of such analyses and satisfaction surveys were also very important when setting up a new portal.
The important question of the project group was: “Who are our users?” or “Who should our users be?”
The basic purpose and main objective of the renovation was (and still is) the e-Government portal becoming a portal for all citizens, including those who are skilful and less skilful in using the internet, economically active citizens, elderly, blind and partially sighted, deaf and hard of hearing, people with disabilities, and the young who swear to mobility.
Last but not least, in the last year, the portal was overtaken by several countries in developing e-services; however, the project team was able to implement their experience and best practices (e.g. Great Britain, Estonia, Australia, and Austria).
The renovation of the portal was not only of a technological nature, but the content was modified as well. To help realising pursued objectives, different experts in the fields of user-experience, designing, writing online and others were included.
In the technological part of the renovation, the majority of the renovation was focused on establishing an open-source system for content management. This system is tightly connected with the system for electronic submission of applications, inclusion of a powerful search engine, and the use of horizontal building blocks which were developed within other projects. In addition, some of the back-end systems have also been subjected to renovation; the systems that are vital for the enabling some functions. Online maintenance was established for acquiring information, submission of the application and insight in personal data.
One of the most problematic areas was the modernisation of the portal content. In order to achieve the best results, the project group collaborated with sectorial editors, appointed by the Government of Republic of Slovenia, and with some content editors of competent authorities.
At the beginning of the article, it was mentioned that some surveys indicated that the content was too complicated. In line of the project, several workshops on preparing texts which can be published online were organised, as well as, detailed instructions written for the same purpose. Based on this, the sectorial and content editors prepared content, which was suitable to be published online.
The content is essentially more understandable than it was; however, there is still room for improvement. Because the content is related to sectorial legislation, which is often very complex and can sometimes be quite difficult to write in a non-technical and comprehensible manner, while still ensuring legal and formal correctness.
Results of the renovation
The new eUprava portal became publicly accessible on 22 November 2015.
The portal is divided into the main part with content and two parts with additional functions. The portal’s main functions are:
- General information on services; some services contain only a description, some have an application form attached (mostly PDF, some in Word); some services are, however, completely electronic (electronic applications). Some services contain only a basic description, the user is then redirected to a specific service website, where he/she can make all arrangements needed (e.g. eDavki or HIIS for Insurance).
- Electronic applications; these applications are created in the background (by the editors), so they can be linked to the national registers and the user does not have to enter personal data which can be accessed only through the use of digital certificates.
- Moja eUprava Module; is an entirely new service which pursues the EU objectives that every citizen has to offer one window through which they can access data kept on him by the State. At the moment, citizens can gain access to personal data in the central population register, to the documents listed in the register of documents, to data on vehicle ownership and his/her property. An important function of this module is enabling an insight in submitted applications and monitoring their resolution. It is necessary to mention own notifications as well. Each user can activate their own notifications (e.g. for applications, documents, eDemokraciji…) and has the possibility to subscribe to the newsletter, where events of interest to a wider circle of users are published (e.g. Museum Open-door-day, tyre replacement, Info Days held in secondary schools and faculties, supplement to the income tax submission…).
- A special section is devoted to information on public sector institutions; here users will find general information on institutions, their addresses, opening hours, applications each institution publishes and some other data;
- In cooperation with the Ministry of Infrastructure the portal contains dates of test centres for the theoretical and practical part of driving tests.
- An important part of the portal is a bulletin board where, according to the General Administrative Procedure Act, document deliveries (of judgements, orders…) and offers for the sale of agricultural land are being published.
- Users can also find interesting information in the section for events and gatherings, where all the events and meetings, which are legally obliged to declare to the competent administrative unit or to the police, are published.
- The portal also contains some other interesting and generally usable content, functions and connections.
The portal is compatible with variable mobile devices; however, submission of applications with mobile devices is still not possible, due to incompatibility with the digital certificates and signature component. These functions are still being developed and when available will be included to the portal and will enable submission of applications via mobile devices.
In particular, it should be stressed that the portal is adapted for people with special needs by recommendations fully in account with the standard WCAG 2.0. This means the portal is adapted for blind and partially sighted users, users with dyslexia, the deaf and hard of hearing. To meet these requirements, the project team cooperated with the Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Association of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Slovenia.
Since Slovenia has two recognised national minorities, is the portal adapted to them as well. Some general information and certain services, depending on the arrangements and topicality of the minority, are translated into Italian and Hungarian.
As repeatedly mentioned, the objective of the project group and consequently the objective of the project was to create a portal for users that is appealing to the eye, clear and understandable, intuitive and easy to use, and trustworthy.
The portal has been live for a little more than three months, the results of the use are very optimistic, indicating that some objectives have been achieved. User reactions are broadly positive, although there are some who have had difficulties using it or simply do not like it. We have received a number of proposals, which have already largely been taken into account; however, some require greater intervention and will be realised at a later stage. Because the portal is linked to more than 30 back-end information systems, any problem of these systems can affect the functioning of the portal. The users are likely to perceive this as portal malfunctions which reflects badly on it. However, it is taken into consideration that the users are no interested in knowing the cause of the problem and rightfully expect a fully functioning portal. This is why, at the moment, the attention is on the stabilisation of the back-end and regulation of those functions which will make the portal even more independent from the problems of back-end systems.
The project team is aware that, although, the renovation is complete and the portal is open to the public, the development is still on-going. The portal is a living organism and should be managed and continuously improved. The project team is aware of this fact, however, this can be achieved only through the co-operation of all involved and by constantly controlling user-satisfaction.