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Innovative digital solutions for a more transparent, inclusive and efficient public service  

The key to promoting digital innovation in the public sector is in the hands of the cities and regions, the European Committee of the Regions affirms in an opinion issued at the request of the Estonian Presidency of the European Council. The opinion was drafted by Frank Cecconi (FR/ALDE), Regional Councillor for Ile-de-France, and adopted unanimously by elected local and regional representatives of the EU Member States at the Committee's plenary session on 30 November.

The opinion by Mr Cecconi urges the public sector to commit to innovation focused on users' needs and incorporating the principles of equal access to digital services for everyone and every business, a high level of protection for sensitive data, "co-production" "digital by default" and "once only". The "once only" principle means that public administrations will only ask for the same information once from people and businesses.

"Going digital can help us to build a new model of government which is more transparent, simpler, more efficient, more inclusive and thus more in tune with users' aspirations. The shift to digital nevertheless poses a challenge both for administrations and for some users who may be not be familiar with the world of new technologies. This is why it is important to take this change in the way public services are delivered as an opportunity to make our administrative procedures and working culture much simpler. Local and regional authorities can play a crucial role here as the administrations most immediately responsible for providing direct, day-to-day services to the public", said Mr Cecconi.

"A few months ago, in the Regional Council of Ile-de-France, we launched an app called "Anotéa" , which is basically the Tripadvisor principle adapted to the world of vocational training. This symbolises the win-win philosophy that must underpin the switch to digital. The app informs users of the range of training courses available to them and will provide a means of matching the training we offer more closely to the actual situation on the ground and to user needs", Mr Cecconi explained.

In order to provide cross-border and transnational digital public services, the Committee sees a need to improve interoperability between the different administrations and to develop techniques such as e-ID and e-signatures. "To cite just one example, Estonia and Finland are currently working on a platform that will ensure the direct and secure exchange of data. Using this system, people can already obtain medicines prescribed electronically in the other country", said Mr Cecconi.

The opinion also points to the need for a radical overhaul in the cultural organisation of the public sector, focusing on the continuous training of public officials in new digital working methods so that they can act as "catalysts for innovation". Defining concrete indicators will allow for reliable comparisons to be made between public administrations as regards their openness to digital solutions.

Finally, the opinion calls for local and regional authorities to be more closely involved in ongoing initiatives, including the 2016/2020 eGovernment Action Plan Steering Board , the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation and the Open Government Partnership (OGP).


Lauri Ouvinen

Tel.: +32 2 282 2063

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