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Champion e-government appLications to increAse tRust, accountabIlity and TransparencY in public services

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CLARITY (Champion e-government appLications to increAse tRust, accountabIlity and TransparencY in public services)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-02-28

• What is the problem/issue being addressed?
The CLARITY project supports the up-take of open eGovernment services across Europe, which is still faced with barriers, such as fragmentation, uneven adoption of technology, lack of public sector technology expertise, dedicated budgeting for development of services and of citizen trust. The EU’s eGovernment action plans have had a positive impact on this field, however the full benefits of digital services for both citizens and governments are not being realised. The Current EU eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 has the vision that by 2020 “public authorities and public institutions across the EU should be open, efficient and inclusive, providing borderless, personalised, user-friendly, end-to-end digital services to all citizens and businesses in the EU.” EU member states vary greatly when it comes to providing open eGovernment services and this stems from differences in governmental structures, budgetary limitations and differences in technological infrastructure. However, there are pockets of innovation and good practice examples to be found within Europe at national and the local level that need promoting so that stakeholders can adopt similar technologies and practices. The CLARITY project first and foremost aims to connect stakeholders working within open eGovernment development and provision across different European countries and share good practice and build networks that allow for knowledge and technology sharing across the continent. This will cut down on duplication of work, which can be costly, and allow public authorities to learn from each other. CLARITY will also raise the profile of services and applications that protect users’ privacy and their data as well as use it in an ethical manner.
• Why is it important for society?
There are a range of reasons for why increasing delivery of open eGovernment services is important for society, e.g. cost savings, increased efficiency, more personalised services and transparency of processes. Governments are increasingly seek to reduce cost of providing public services, by using electronic means for delivery. Public authorities across Europe are under pressure from austerity cuts and demographic changes, which see an ageing population requiring increasing health and social care arrangements. Electronic services are also seen as a way of providing more personalised services, as public authorities increasingly attempt to meet the “once-only” rule (whereby a citizen only has to submit their information once to have access to a range of services), by relying on electronic identification and big data processing. The provision of electronic services to businesses and SMEs to lighten administrative burden is also seen as a major contribution that open eGovernment services can make to lower costs. The availability of mobile technologies and citizen access to the internet is also documented as a strong driver to justify changing over to electronic services, and provides a strong rationale for industry to take part in open eGovernment application development. Political and social changes towards a more open society, with calls from citizens for transparency and increasing role and participation in the government and democratic processes also feature strongly in the literature.

• What are the overall objectives?
The CLARITY project seeks to support European Member states in their pursuit for greater trust, transparency and efficiency within government via the increase of take-up of open eGovernment services. To meet this objective CLARITY partners will take the following steps: Mobilise and engage with the multidisciplinary network of stakeholders across the European open eGovernment ecosystem; Conduct an interactive needs assessment and gap analysis in order to understand gaps in the market to support the growth in open eGovernment applications; Review and catalogue current open eGovernment service applications across Europe; Set up a marketplace which highlights good practice applications so that these may inspire or be adopted by governments seeking to implement new open eGovernment services; and work with the open eGovernment network to develop a blueprint for the future of open eGovernment in Europe
The CLARITY project will focus especially on four public sector areas in their work: General practice health, local government services, small businesses & self-employed, and disability services. The CLARITY project will also conduct a gap analysis between needs and provisions within the field, to ascertain what needs are not currently being met with respect to open eGovernment services. This will allow developers, industry and public authorities to target their efforts specifically to fill these gaps with new and innovative services.
The CLARITY partners conducted extensive desk research to deliver a Stakeholder Taxonomy to categorise the stakeholders operating within the open eGovernment ecosystem in Europe. This work was further developed in the subsequent CLARITY driver analysis and needs assessment carried out later in the first year.
Following the stakeholder taxonomy, the CLARITY partners examined the factors that are driving the current need for change with respect to the development of open government practices in the four public sector areas and desk research to ascertain the key stakeholder needs within the open eGovernment service sector. The overall task was divided in to focusing on societal, public authority and industry needs. These findings were presented in the project deliverables D2.2 Preliminary Needs Assessment and D2.3 Considerations for the up-take of eGovernment services in Europe.
The project partners set up a project website and social media accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn and connected with stakeholders within the open eGovernment services sector. The social media will be used to assist with network building, promoting the project results and events, as well as promoting other projects and initiatives within the open eGovernment service development.
CLARITY will stimulate the creation, delivery and use of new public services by identifying and evaluating current, emerging and new eGovernment applications that can efficiently provide public services. By identifying and evaluating these eGovernment applications in relation to the various stakeholder needs, CLARITY will contribute to knowledge of the state-of-the-art of eGovernment applications, and the research and development required to deliver new services that meet stakeholder needs in Europe.
CLARITY will provide a network of stakeholders with opportunities for collaboration with others both within and outside the consortium, and drive innovation in the creation, delivery and use of new ‘open’ services. Work so far has provided a good overview of needs and drivers within the field of open eGovernment services. These are the first steps towards ascertaining the gaps that exist in current provision and how these can be addressed through targeted innovation.
CLARITY will focus specifically on encouraging innovation and modernisation in the delivery of public sector services to reduce the administrative burden of citizens and businesses. The creation of a Blueprint (in Year 2) for the next steps of open eGovernment service development and delivery will provide guidance for those stakeholders who are willing to employ eGovernment applications.