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practice Multi-channel Citizen Service Centers in Greece

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Multi-channel Citizen Service Centers in Greece

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Acronym of the case:

CSC-KEP

Web address of the case:

Country of the case:

Greece

Posting Date:

27 April 2007

Last Edited Date:

07 January 2010

Author:

Evangelos Papanikolaou (Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration & Decentralization)
Multi-channel Citizen Service Centers in Greece Logoypesdda's picture
Good Practice 2007

Type of initiative

  • Project or service-imgProject or service
  • Network-imgNetwork

Case Abstract

The Citizen Service Centres are an advanced multi-channel system for the delivery of public services to citizens and businesses, regardless of their digital capabilities, social orientation or locality. It has proven to be a high profile eGovernment project and its impact on citizens and administration alike has been remarkable. Several thousand citizens every day across Greece can walk in to any of the 1,054 branches of Citizen Service Centres, call the 24/7 call centre or visit the dedicated website in order to carry out their affairs with the various departments in the public domain through this seamless suite of integrated channels.

Description of the case

Start date - End date
January 2003 (Ongoing)
Date operational
May 2003
Target Users
Civil society
Target Users Description

Every citizen who needs to interact with the public sector is a potential user of the CSC network. Therefore, the target group practically includes everyone living in Greece or abroad and needs information or documents from a Greek public domain organization.

Scope
National
Status
Operation
Language(s)
English | French | German | Greek

Policy Context and Legal Framework

The Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization (MIPAD) performs a dual function: Conducts high-level strategic planning for all local public administrations and also sets the legislation for the whole of Public Administration. The MIPAD, being in charge of central and local administrations alike, published law 3013/2002 through which the Citizen Service Centers (CSCs) were found. The endeavour was funded as a pilot project by 75% by the EU and by 25% by the Greek Government, and the first branches began serving citizens in September 2002. The physical desk (namely the CSCs), coupled with the 24x7 call center were the first two branches of the triad (the third branch being the internet) that would make up the CSCs as a single concept. Their main objective has been to decentralize the delivery of public services, ensure that all citizens are served efficiently and expeditiously and reduce the interaction between citizens and the administration. In a sense, the CSCs have become the single front-gate through which citizens enter the realm of public administration. Central supervision is a responsibility of the MIPAD. In order to launch a new CSC the home local administration, such as municipality or prefecture, requests the authorization of the Ministry. The Ministry-authorized CSC, becomes then a new department in the organizational chart of the local administration. Nevertheless, high-level supervision, operational support, logistical support as well as strategic planning is provided by the Ministry of the Interior. Once a CSC is authorized, the local administration assumes the responsibility of building and running it.

Project Size and Implementation

Type of initiative
Inclusive services of general interest
Overall Implementation approach
Public administration
Technology choice
Not applicable/not available
Funding source
Public funding national
Project size
Implementation: €5,000,000-10,000,000

Implementation and Management Approach

The deployment of this project required a flexible management structure, separate from the administration hierarchy, in order to manage the numerous daily tasks. At the outset, two different teams formed the basis of the management configuration, the Project Management Team (PMT) and the Project Supervision & Acceptance Committee (PSAC). The PMT was charged with coordinating the low-level organizational issues between the Ministry of Interior and the municipalities, while the PSAC managed the implementation, delivery and acceptance of the IT platform; the implementation and support of the IT platform was outsourced to a private contractor through a bidding process. Both of these groups were directed by the small-sized Strategic Direction Committee which provided high-level guidance. The first phase of the project run in pilot mode in order to assess the real long-term needs. After the pilot phase was completed, a special directorate was established in order to supervise and manage the CSCs. The new directorate was staffed with MIPAD personnel and was charged with the successful daily operation of the CSCs, while the Project Supervision & Acceptance Committee supervises the implementation, delivery, acceptance and Service Level Agreement (SLA) of the outsourced IT elements of the project.

Technology solution

The underlying power of the CSC network is a specially-built web-based IT platform. The solution is focused on Service Oriented Application (SOA) philosophy, thus enabling flexible future development. Citizens and government officials alike obtain access to certain service layers through LDAP-authenticated Single Sign On (SSO). Government personnel have been supplied with digital certificates (PKI) and therefore citizens can opt to receive the requested documents digitally signed in electronic format. In order to ensure interoperability, the MIPAD requires adherence to the e-GIF (Government Interoperability Framework) protocol. Information Technology (IT) personnel from various government organizations can tap on IT specialists both of the MIPAD as well as of the vendor that developed the platform. Besides the informational use of the CSC platform, a powerful workflow engine supports the fulfillment of citizen requests. The workflow engine interacts with the internal Decision Support System (DSS) or other third party systems through push events and through web services (Web Service Definition Language - WSDL). When their case is completed, an SMS server informs citizens through a short text message. The content management module allows government officials to enter, handle and ultimately authorize and push content to the CSC platform.

Impact, innovation and results

Impact

As long as computer penetration in Greece measures comparatively lower than the European Union average, a new approach was developed in order to bring eGovernment benefits to large parts of the country and the population. Since the first year of operation, the CSCs have changed the way people think about public administration. Their geographical distribution and the promptness of expediting cases, are just a few of the immediate benefits. Certain segments of the population, especially islanders and inhabitants of remote and mountainous areas, became the immediate recipients of these benefits since they could avoid unnecessary visits to distant outlets of public administration. Public Administration acquired a recognizable face and could be found literally next door just by visiting one of the more than 1000 branches country-wide. The extensive network of CSC branches operates hand-in-hand with a 24x7 call center which responds to citizen information inquiries pertaining to public administration and receives by phone citizen request for any of the 1000-odd certified government processes. Usage data shows that the drop rate (unanswered calls) is around 1.5%, and of the answered calls, 98% are answered within 20 seconds. An additional impact of the CSCs has been the momentum that the project generated in reengineering and redesigning traditional bureaucratic procedures into citizen-centric services. This is evident through the increased number of public sector agencies that decide to offer their services through the CSC network. A prerequisite for an organization to join the CSCs is to reengineer and streamline each of the processes to be certified. Once redesigned, a process is certified by ministerial decree and is offered through the CSCs, currently offering more than 1000 services. A study that investigated legislation pertaining to citizen services showed that 75% of all transactions with the administration, are offered at the prefecture level. The extensive geographic distribution of the CSCs has significantly narrowed the gap between citizens and administrative centers. When citizens transact with the administration through the various CSC channels, back office organizations save a significant amount of citizen visits, thus releasing human resources to focus on core business. Clearly, this is a win-win setting for both the citizen and the administration. Skilled customer service agents who serve citizens at the CSCs and fulfil all the related tasks on the citizens’ behalf, in essence fight the digital and social divide by offering the eGovernment benefits to all population groups, including immigrants as well as digitally illiterate individuals. As soon as the various ICT projects of the public domain go in production mode, the CSCs will be the multiplier that will increase the added-value of eGovernment impact to the population.

Track record of sharing

The web-based platform that powers the CSC network has been a growth vehicle for the whole project. This success influenced a number of public domain agencies and organizations causing them to evaluate the new status and start considering of ways to benefit from it. Our first candidates were public organizations that physically interface with a large number of individuals on a regular basis. This list of organizations includes, but is not limited to, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transportation, the Social Security Foundation (social security fund), the Agricultural Insurance Organization (social security fund) and the National Tourism Organization. They asked their IT departments to comply with the CSC interoperability guidelines. The extend and the speed of change varied across different organizations; however those who completed all the requirements and linked up their systems to the CSC platform, instantly gained access to a 1000-plus-branch homogeneous network. Each of these organization-to-CSC links brought significant benefits to all of the parties involved, but most of all to the citizens. All public domain ICT projects which are currently in various stages of the design or implementation phase have incorporated such features that enable uncomplicated linking to the CSC platform. Apart from achieving technical coordination, the organization that owns each of these projects is expected to adapt its legal framework of operation in order to cooperate transparently with the CSC network. Uniform and homogeneous service delivery across the CSC network has triggered reverse engineering for all activities which are offered through the CSCs. Prior to this, these activities were offered by the various government agencies in, mostly similar, but not always identical, ways. Apart from uniformity across the public domain, process reengineering resulted in streamlined activities, free of unnecessary steps and tasks, less confusing for the citizen.

Lessons learnt

Lesson 1 - Large-scale eGovernment projects which tackle a number of problems, like the CSCs, will eventually produce quantifiable rewards. However, apart from the clearly measurable benefits that are evident by looking at the numbers, the most important lesson has been that a recipe for success is a healthy mix of technology and services. Technology alone can not guarantee that the benefits of eGovernment will reach large – eventually all – parts of the population. In our case, the person-to-person channel, supported by a robust layer of technology has worked miracles. Lesson 2 - The CSCs have been accepted by the citizens by a very wide margin. This, coupled with the fact that people are not required to use the CSCs – since they can contact the traditional public organization – makes their success even more significant. They act as an alternative channel of dealing with public domain agencies and organizations. Therefore, our experience suggests that if you build a first-class service, citizens will join you and will welcome development. Lesson 3 - Finally, the CSCs have produced significant savings for all the parties involved. More specifically, citizens and businesses save time while the administration saves money and gains happy citizens.

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Very good! need to talk ASAP

05 February 2010 | 60973 Visits | Rating: 3 (maximum:5)

Please, can you send me a contact email address of authors, responsible people in the service?

we are working in a totally similar service at local level, have CIP project 2009-2012 - iSAC- and may be working together in EU projects in the near future!

Many thanks,

 

M Mercè Rovira

merce@isac.cat

Merce.rovira@udg.edu

+34637431338

University of Girona (Catalonia - Spain)

Great

04 December 2009 | 65921 Visits | Rating: No votes

The Citizen Service Centres are an advanced multi-channel system for
the delivery of public services to citizens and businesses, regardless
of their digital capabilities, social orientation or locality.

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