Administering benefits undeniably impacts the way citizens feel about their government. We can take managing social benefits to the next level, where states assume the active role by proactively offering aid.
People, having gotten used to all kinds of services made more and more convenient, now also expect governments to apprehend their needs. Innovation in government services now is not simply moving its services online, but foreseeing its citizens needs from birth to death and providing support throughout the key events in their cycle of life.
Estonian digital services are based on the once-only principle, meaning that the government can ask the citizen for their information only once. When need be, the same information can then be requested by other public administration offices not from the citizen, but from the registry via secure data exchange.
Developing this idea further, Estonia has created the world’s first proactive service. Proactive services are based on the idea that instead of citizens filling out forms, the government takes on the active role and sends all eligible citizens an offer for benefits, which they can agree to with the simple click of a button.
Estonian Social Insurance Board is in charge of roughly 20 percent of the country’s distributed annual budget paying benefits to about 700 000 people.
Estonia’s first proactive service aims to make life easier for parents. Before this, there was zero automation and only 15 per cent of benefits were offered instead of managing the applications. And even those proposals were drawn up by hand.
In November 2019, parents received a proactive offer for benefits for the first time. When a child is born, the entry made in the population register will activate all following services without the parents having to apply. The proposal directs the parent to a self-service portal where they can accept the offer or additionally change the recipient of the benefit(s), e.g. from the child’s mother to the child’s father.
The proposal also informs the parents about the benefits they are entitled to, the sum they are entitled to, the calculations their benefits are based on, when the benefits are paid out, and what they should do next.
To allow this, an automated system based on complex algorithms operates in the background. This system supports a massive analysis of data, which creates the detailed information concerning who is eligible for benefits and in what amount. The system repeatedly validates data via various registers to approve the benefits and the entitled sums. It also enables the fewest people possible to manage the multitude of applications for different benefits. Proactive services, thus, utilize the databases and registries that already hold extensive information about citizens.
What will you win from automating processes? Time and quality.
When automated processes deal with most of the standard cases, customer service experts have more time to concentrate on special cases and more time to create value and quality in their work.
Fresh parents don’t have search for a place to apply for benefits, deal with paperwork or do difficult calculations. They can instead concentrate on their newborn and know that all the above is taken care of for them by their government.
Agility might be a buzzword, but when working with digital government services, it does matter. The ability of a government to act quickly enables the development of new services at incredible speed — like helping its citizens during a severe crisis.