It’s not unusual for EU citizens to use a day of their paid leave for the sole purpose of carrying around documents from one branch of the administration to another. Frustrating, right? Luckily enough, the EU set out to change that in 2018 with the Single Digital Gateway regulation. By the end of 2023, important information shall be provided only once. Registering a car, changing your address or claiming pension benefits will be done from a single online platform that all branches of the administration can tap into. It’s the once-only principle (OOP). A key example of successful OOP implementation in the social protection domain is the Austrian child registration and family allowance (ALF). “When a child is born, parents have to go only once to the citizen service of their municipality. They bring their personal ID and that’s it: No other documents are necessary for the registration process and its accompanying procedures. Furthermore, the child’s healthcare card and the application for child benefit are issued automatically. This case dramatically reduces the burden and efforts for the parents, and the public administrations also benefit from smarter procedures and higher quality of data,” says Prof. Dr Maria Wimmer, coordinator of SCOOP4C (Stakeholder community for once-only principle: Reducing administrative burden for citizens) and Chair of the research group eGovernment at the Institute for Information Systems Research, University of Koblenz-Landau. SCOOP4C is one of two cornerstones of the once-only infrastructure, along with the TOOP project. While the latter explores and demonstrates OOP principles across Europe, the former makes an inventory of existing solutions, identifies best practices and provides political recommendations. “SCOOP4C has developed ideal scenarios for OOP across borders. It demonstrates how the OOP can be realised in domains such as health, education, taxation, change of address and social protection. It also highlights its benefits for both citizens and administrations,” says Prof. Dr Wimmer. The project essentially revolved around the identification of OOP cases – public service provisioning cases where citizen data is shared and reused between public administrations – and OOP enablers. “OOP enablers refer to crucial building blocks supporting the implementation of OOP cases in different policy domains. Examples include: central infrastructure for sharing and re-using data; semantic and technical architecture; solutions building blocks; as well as organisational, legal and political enablers,” Prof. Dr Wimmer explains. The project, which brought together a community of 810 stakeholders, successfully identified 56 OOP cases and 35 enablers before making them accessible via a knowledge base. But SCOOP4C also provides important insights into the current state of OOP in Europe. It notably presents evidence that whilst OOP solutions are not widespread, their realisation brings considerable benefits to citizens and administrations. These include less time and effort invested by public services, higher quality of data, faster and easier service provisioning, considerable reduction in the administrative burden, and greater citizen satisfaction. Besides its knowledge base, the project’s most important outcomes include five cross-border scenarios for specific domains, roadmaps for achieving the OOP, a stakeholder engagement plan and nine key policy recommendations. Whilst SCOOP4C is now completed, project partners intend to use their expertise to guide future OOP implementation. The knowledge base will be maintained, while dissemination and communication plans around the roadmaps and policy recommendations will continue.
SCOOP4C, Singe Digital Gateway, OOP, once-only principle, administrative burden