Towards a digitized Public Administration

Digitizing the core of Public Administration is part of the European agenda which foresees to facilitate European citizens and businesses to have access to public services through digital technologies. Integrating digital solutions to the public administration process provides opportunities both for the players in the administration sector and for their relationships with citizens and businesses.

A worthwhile PA should redefine its management system by employing digital procedures to provide citizens with a better high-quality service and experience giving them free access to data and public services. Just a few examples of digitized procedures in PA are e-Signatures, digitization of document and information, electronic invoicing (both in the public sector and in the private one). 

What does Digital Citizenship stand for?

Digital citizenship refers to the citizens’ digital empowerment to use, have access to digital technologies conceived to carry out public services and to promote a fast and transparent public administration; it also deals with citizens’ rights and duties towards digital PA.

Digital Citizenship benchmarks:

  • Digital access: it enables citizens to have free access to digital services;
  • Digital rights and duties: refer to citizen’s behaviour and personal data protection from privacy, data processing to freedom of expression, always by respecting technology legislation;
  • Digital skills: each citizen should have good digital knowledge to take advantage of the given services;
  • Digital remote communication: it doesn’t require any physical presence of the two parts (between PA and citizens), all kind of communication and relationship can take place even remotely;
  • Digital commerce: in a market more and more digitized, online purchases are at the order of the day, so it is necessary to establish rules to safeguard customers;
  • Digital health and well-being: technologies are able to improve health solutions by facilitating the whole management system both for doctors and patients.  

About e-Government

The European Commission in “The Role of e-Government for Europe’s Future” affirmed and defined e-government as:

“The use of information and communication technologies in public administrations combined with organisational change and new skills in order to improve public services and democratic processes and strengthen support to public policies.”

In another communication, the European Commission highlighted the requirements on which the action for e-government must be based within 2020. 

“By 2020, public administrations and public institutions in the European Union should be open, efficient and inclusive, providing borderless, personalised, user-friendly, end-to-end digital public services to all citizens and businesses in the EU. Innovative approaches are used to design and deliver better services in line with the needs and demands of citizens and businesses. Public administrations use the opportunities offered by the new digital environment to facilitate their interactions with stakeholders and with each other”

Digital Identity in Public Administration

The eIDAS regulation introduced the eIDAS 2018 Municipalities Project for the mutual recognition principle of European eIDs which allows citizens to have access to public services through electronic authentication which proves citizens’ identity, this solution is currently available in Austria, Germany and Netherlands, with the perspective to be available in the other countries which are eIDAS compliant.

SPID: The Public System for Digital Identity Management

Another digital identity solution for citizens has been adopted in Italy: The Public System for Digital Identity Management (SPID) which provides access to e-government services both to citizens and to companies. SPID will be interoperable with other European eID systems, it is built on the OASIS SAML standard focused on exchanging authentication and authorization that is employed for the European STORK eID project. 

SPID has been projected with the perspective to develop a unique eID infrastructure across the European Union to facilitate citizens’ public service access and to reduce the administration cost. The eID system has been conceived as a multi-platform solution so that it can be integrated with PCs, smartphones and tablets. It is an open model system based on self sovereign management which allows citizens to choose and change eID solutions. 

Citizen’s Digital Identity

Nowadays, using digital identity based on authentication through body requirements is the best and safer way to have access to services both public and private, avoiding having user’s credentials stolen. Thanks to the digital Identity approach, citizens would be enabled to have access to services through real-time authentication as one of the major and reliable proofs of user identity. Logging in with biometrical requirements becomes easier, faster and safer than common traditional access with passwords. It also helps to tackle cyber-attacks and criminal organizations.

In a digital world like ours, PA should focus on these main topics: promote transparency in all its activities,  protect citizens’ data and their digital identities, streamline administration system and unnecessary bureaucracy processes.

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