In October 2019, the representatives of 14 Ukrainian cities visited Estonia within the frames of a study tour organized by PLEDDG. The participants had an opportunity to get familiar with specific features of the implemented e-governance reform and special software aimed at optimization of local governance processes and improvement of the administrative services provision quality. Larysa Laba, Director of Berdiansk Administrative Services Center also joined the tour. She reported on the study tour results at the operational meeting of the Executive Committee.
Ukrainian delegation had a series of meetings with Minister of Public Administration, Mr. Jaak Aab, mayors of Estonian cities, and shared experience with specialists from city councils and relevant departments. The study tour was an opportunity for the representatives of Ukrainian cities to develop their knowledge about the best practices of e-governance and e-services and think over the adaptation of such instruments to the Ukrainian context.
Nowadays, it is a common practice for Estonian citizens to receive e-services regulated by the legislation on electronic databases. Estonian laws grant electronic procedures the status equal to that of the “paper” format ones.
An electronic ID-card which is a compulsory identification document, became a key component of all innovative information systems in Estonia. An ID-card has high level of security as it contains a PIN-code that allows to use the card in many web-systems. Such ID-card is a key instrument in communication between authorities and citizens, which ensures accessibility to all institutions and services. In fact, a mobile ID is used for convenience purposes, with a PIN-code transmitted via cell phone connection. By means of this device, local citizens can make various types of registrations and payments.
The State portal (eesti.ee) allows Estonian citizens, entrepreneurs and officials to receive a relevant and reliable information. The portal comprises about 100 e-services, with 300 official letterheads. The website contains over 2000 various publications and 1500 links.
The most popular service is “e-School”, predominantly used by the families with school-age children. It is available for students (they have access to course materials and schedules), teachers (they can plan lessons and publish materials), and parents (they can enroll their children in the school and monitor their success level). The system allows to avoid the communication gap in education sphere. All the schools and libraries have the Internet connection. After high school, all graduates take national exams, with the result being entered in the system. Each graduate can get familiar with them both visiting the national portal or receiving a text message onto their cell phones.
Economic success depends on citizens’ business activity. Any entrepreneur can start his business in a couple of clicks. It only takes 18 mins to register a company at Business portal. The information will appear in the register of enterprises, tax department and other structures, as required. To perform this procedure, one should have an Estonian ID-card only, although the system reads such cards from Belgium, Portugal, Lithuania, and Finland. The work on providing the citizens from other countries with a possibility to set their business in Estonia online is in progress. When creating a company, all documents may be signed with digital signature.
The e-Land Register information system allows to search real estate objects based on their nominal value. The e-Tax system allows to submit tax declarations and verify tax information. The system works 24/7-, it is accessed via an ID-card, mobile ID-card or Internet bank. The “e-Bank” system identifies customers by their ID-cards or mobile IDs, which are more reliable comparing to the passworded cards. Every day the Internet banks process 98% of transfers.
The system of digital prescriptions has become a widespread practice in Estonia. This prevents loss and makes it impossible for evil-doers to falsify or misuse a hard copy. The e-Patient system allows to register for an appointment with the doctor, change the time of the visit or cancel it, and remind the patient about the upcoming date of the visit. The user can see updates made by the doctor to their clinical records and get familiar with the test results.
The e-Police information system provides police with an access to the databases of Schengen area, which significantly facilitates the procedure of detection of possible violations made by a detained person or makes it easier to trace the car such individual is driving. The e-services system is interoperable with the population registries, road registry, business registry, e-health system, banking system, registry of permits, and other registries required for e-services provision.
There is an information system for parliament sessions in Estonia which relieves ministers from the necessity to carry paper documents. Officials have access to the databases and can always get familiar with relevant materials. This cuts the decision-making time from hours up to 30-90 minutes. A parliament session can be viewed on the air via the parliament’s web-page, the process of decision-making is taken in shorthand and published not later than the following day.
The draft legislative acts can be reviewed via the “e-Legislation” system which allows to trace a bill from the stage of its creation up to its passing through various authorities. The direct access to the registers of documents of public institutions ensures transparency of apparatus, guarantees lower corruption degree among officials due to automatic recording of any document transmission. Also, one can trace the sessions and documents of Tallinn city council on the Internet.
Since 2005, Estonians can vote at elections online (using their ID-card or mobile ID no matter whether they are at home or travelling abroad). The citizens may vote at election online several times, with only last vote registered.
Estonian experience proves a positive dynamics of e-services provision: all users, especially people with disabilities or those working or studying abroad have 24-hour access, with confidentiality preserved; the use of various remote communication channels will save time and money, and will contribute to nature conservation with less fuel and paper used; the information retains at one place, which allows to meet the customers’ needs; lessening of an administrative burden, high security level (e-invoices and documents are not lost and are accessible at any place and at any time), easy filling of the forms eradicates the occurrence of technical errors, transparency in public procurement sphere, e-services restrict corruptive practices and raise the public trust.
Summing up, the speaker noted that Ukraine had chosen its path towards creating an “e-State” through e-governance, which would allow to achieve the balance between the interests of the State, society, and business. Therefore, Estonian experience is so topical and useful. At the national level, as of 31.10.2019, an important step towards efficient operation of Ukrainian national registers was made. The Parliament passed the draft law “On Electronic Public Registers” in its first reading, which sets forth the following:
- identification of base register (original data sources);
- prohibition on duplication of the data contained in the basic registers;
- uniform requirements to creation and operation of registers;
- prohibition on demand of the information already contained in state registers;
- optimization of the quantity and structure of registers;
- electronic interaction based on Trembita system;
- a right of a person to have free access to their personal information;
- and many other important provisions and principles.
Such work is being carried out in Berdiansk already. Currently, the U-LEAD initiative “e-solutions for communities, is being implemented based on the “Center for Innovations Development”. Creating such unified electronic registers as “Register of Berdiansk Amalgamated Territorial Community”, “Register of Addresses”, will significantly simplify the process of receiving social and administrative services. Citizens will not have to visit Administrative Services Centers, as all data will be available online.