In the European Commission’s report “e-Government Benchmark Report 2017”, Malta ranked in the first position in all the established indicators, namely related to accessibility and technical availability of online services.
In the last four years, Malta has worked hard in this regard and invested heavily to improve the accessibility of online services. To complement this development, Malta has also established several one-stop-shops for citizens who either prefer a personalised experience or who do not have access to the internet. Through one-stop-shops, citizens can be provided with all the available services they require from one outlet.
Through online services, citizens can benefit from over 800 services, also made available through e-forms. E-forms have helped in reducing bureaucracy and subsequently enabled the simplification of the process. For one specific service, it was previously required to fill 22 different forms, whereas today it is only required to fill one form.
Through these services, Government not only managed to simplify the process but also reduced the waiting time related to Business First, where the time required to start a new business has been reduced from two months to only three days.
The online services and one-stop-shops confirm Government’s commitment in providing the required services to all citizens. Through this investment, services are available 24/7 and accessible from anywhere.
Results from the e-Government Benchmark 2017
The e-Government Benchmark Report 2017 measures the delivery and performance of e-Government services in 34 countries (comprising the 28 European Union Member States, together with Iceland, Norway, Montenegro, Republic of Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey). Malta’s performance in the 2016 benchmarking exercise has been outstanding, with Malta reconfirmed the as leader and the best performer in user centricity and in the delivery of digital public services in Europe, leading the way forward in Europe’s ambition to create a Digital Single Market. The benchmarking study carried out by Capgemini, Sogeti, IDC, and the Politecnico di Milano measures four top-level indicators, while comparing the performance of eGovernment services between the participating countries. As happened last year, Malta has again attained an exceptional result by leading in all the top-level indicators and ranking first in the overall results.
The first indicator is User Centricity, where the report measures the online ‘availability’, ‘usability’ and mobile friendliness of eGovernment services. Malta has ranked first in the online availability and usability measurements and also in the overall indicator, with a score of 98% - 18 percentage points more than the EU average.
The second indicator, Transparency, examines the extent to which governments are transparent about their own responsibilities and performance, the service delivery process, and the personal data involved. The EU average score in this indicator is 59%. Malta is clearly ahead of all other participating countries with a score of 94%.
The third indicator, Cross Border Mobility, assesses governments’ ability to provide businesses and citizens seamless access to online public services when they are away from their home country. Once again, Malta has a stong lead in the rankings with an overall score of 98.5%, 35.5 percentage points more than the EU average.
Malta is also leading in the fourth indicator – Key Enablers – which measures the availability of several technical elements which are deemed important for the delivery of eGovernment services. In fact, in this field Malta has achieved an overall score of 98%, 46 percentage points more than the EU average.
Principles promoted by the new eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020
With the new Action Plan for 2016-2020, the European Commission wants to promote several principles that support the plan’s different dimensions. These include the delivery of digital services as a preferred option; the Once Only Principle where citizens are only required to provide the information once to a public administration; inclusive and accessible services that cater for both elderly and people with disabilities; sharing of information and data to make services transparent; making digital public services available across borders; designing public services to work seamlessly across the Single Market and all services must be compliant with data protection, privacy and IT security by integrating these elements during the design phase.
Several good practices presented by Malta
The e-Government Benchmarking report presents several good practices that were implemented by the EU member states. In the case of Malta, these include Maltapps, together with the Servizz.Gov portal, the e-Courts portal, the BusinessFirst portal, the MyHealth portal and the JobsPlus portal.
Through Maltapps, the Maltese Government launched the first set of mobile Government systems in March 2017 giving access to a wider range of public services such as taxation, education and culture. Through the ‘mother app’, users can access all the other apps published by Government.
In 2018, Government will be launching a second wave of apps that will provide additional functionalities such as transactions. Through these apps, citizens will be able to make payments through their mobile devices. Furthermore, Government will be introducing other apps that can be used to provide feedback and to participate in Government decision-making processes. The Servizz.Gov portal encapsulates all the Government services, allowing citizens to communicate with the central Government, local councils and public entities. Services are classified under 12 sectors, representing various Government entities and departments.
The eCourts portal has been designed as ‘mobile first’ and provides digital access to the work done by the judicial process to both legal professionals and citizens who are involved in the legal process.
Through the BusinessFirst portal, Government provides a point of single contact for businesses. Apart from providing important information for businesses, this portal also contains tools that can be used by both start-ups and established businesses.
Another portal mentioned in the report is the Next Generation myHealth portal which provides citizens and their respective private medical doctors with the possibility of accessing and viewing parts of the patient’s medical records maintained in the Maltese public healthcare system. This information can be accessed through the e-ID credentials.
Finally, the report also mentions the JobsPlus portal which offers the opportunity to job seekers to create a personalised digital profile include the skills and roles they are interested to work in. Employers can create their vacancy profiles and the portal matches these profiles to the skills of the job seekers and vice versa.
Raising awareness about the availability of online services
Together with the Office of the Principal Permanent Secretary and several other Ministries, MITA is not only working to make online services accessible through mobile devices, but is also raising awareness, with the objective of increasing the take up of these services. Moreover, government has already embarked on a training program, with the aim to equip public officers with the required technology background to be able to support the take up of mobile public services.