Public Services’ Focus on the Citizen and the New Technology
The aim of administrative reforms of the recent decades has been to simplify administrative procedure and to introduce a focus on the citizen in public services. For the citizen, the main indications of quality service are speed, competence, comfort, fairness, and effectiveness. Focus on the citizen is provided by concentrating as many services as possible in a single location or unit in order to reduce the number of direct contacts with civil servants necessary to receive a service or meet a request.
One of the most internationally widely used, and thoroughly tested and investigated options is to establish centres that provide a number of public services. Through technology, many new channels have been adopted, the Internet foremost, and also (cell) phones, various automatic machines, and smart cards. What is most important is that services be concentrated in logical groupings to make the system as user-friendly as possible. Surveys performed amongst citizens have demonstrated that they prefer grouping of services on the basis of situations encountered in life (e.g. childbirth, change of address, etc.) or specific fields (agriculture, social benefits). The bureaucratic-agency-focused approach to providing services that has been practised so far should thus be reassessed. For the citizen-friendly servicing systems to function realistically and effectively and to meet their implied goals, the principles of administration and administrative culture must be substantially altered. Setting up services on the so-called outside-in principle requires closer cooperation, exchange of information and integration of functions between public institutions. Because of this, common information systems will be needed to integrate the whole of the public sector. Development and application of a cross-compatible register system and a governmental inter-agency document management system will be important. Such systems would reduce the hindering impact of administrative boundaries, and will create conditions for application of servicing systems that would be based on new administrative technology and that would take individual needs of the citizens more into account.