No significant improvement in the quality of provision of public services in the last three years

11/10/2010 | 10:30 AM

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TALLINN, 11 November 2010 - The follow-up audit conducted by the National Audit Office showed that it is not easy for people to access information about public services and their use on websites. Also, people who consume public services must still submit unjustified documents, ascertain facts and visit administrative agencies in person.

The National Audit Office found that irrespective of a few positive changes, the quality of provision of public services in the information society has not improved significantly in comparison to 2007.
The websites of many local authorities still contain no information that is required for use of services and up-to-date. State agencies have usually managed to guarantee such information and make most services available in electronic format as well. However, even if information existed on the websites of local authorities and state agencies, it was often illogically structured, making it hard to find.

For example, we navigated several websites and found that it is usually impossible to understand the manner in which public services are offered and what channels are used to provide them. It was also not explained how different channels can be used for consumption of services, e.g. how to fill in application forms and how to send the forms or one’s data to an agency in order to apply for a service. People have to either call the agency, visit it in person or send an e-mail to obtain such information.

Also, many services cannot be used electronically and people have to visit agencies in person to resolve their problems. Although the ID card is widely used in Estonia and allows for services to be consumed fully in electronic format, we found that options are often limited, i.e. people still have to visit an agency in person in some stage of consuming a service. For example, people who register themselves as unemployed have to visit the agency for personal identification.
People often have to submit data that already exists in national databases to agencies if they wish to consume public services. People were required to submit documents like copies of certificates of birth or death or documents evidencing marriage in order to use the services inspected in the audit.

A positive example among the audited services is registration of a person’s place of residence, which has become considerably easier and user-friendlier than in 2007 as a result of the development of the state portal. The service of registering one’s place of residence can be used electronically in all of the local authorities we audited.

The National Audit Office advised appointing the coordinator of the development of public services in the information society and specify their role and responsibility in order to improve the quality of public services. Also, requirements should be established to guaranteeing an even quality of public services and consideration of the usability (incl. user-friendliness) of public services.

The National Audit Office audited the quality of public services for the first time in 2007 and a year later, it initiated the development of common quality requirements (Everyone’s Rights in e-State or the e-State Charter) in cooperation with e-service developers, politicians, representatives of civil society and specialists.

The follow-up audit conducted in 2010 assessed the compliance of the quality of public services with the requirements of the e-State Charter. The audit sample consisted of six services offered by the state and another six services offered by local authorities (incl. application for childbirth allowance and child care allowance, registration as unemployed, registration of births and deaths, application for residence permits, etc.). The quality of public services was assessed in 4 state and 15 local government agencies and one county government.

Toomas Mattson
Head of Communication Service, National Audit Office
[email protected]

  • Posted: 11/10/2010 10:30 AM
  • Last Update: 8/21/2015 11:58 AM
  • Last Review: 8/21/2015 11:58 AM

People who consume public services must still submit mountains of documents

Corbis/Scanpix Baltics

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