Citizen Shops
Agency for the Public Services Reform

The Problem

The citizens’ access to public services is naturally at the centre of public authorities concerns, since it's a pre-condition for the success of any service provider at the public sphere. In this sense, the development of conditions that can boost the citizen’s access and satisfaction with public services is a permanent objective of any administration. Portugal isn't an exception in this domain, and in the 90's several new models were tested to improve the delivery of public services. One of them was so successful and widely recognized by the Portuguese that it continues to be until our days one of the best examples of public administration adaptation to citizens needs and conveniences: the Citizens Shops.

The Citizens Shops are one of the most emblematic projects in the service delivery domains in Portugal. In one place, citizens can have access to a wide range of public and private services. From social security to taxes services, from electricity or water suppliers companies to Citizens Card emission services.

Before the project's implementation's start in 1999, the Portuguese citizen was confronted with several public service networks, highly fragmented, with little communication between them and geographically dispersed. The Social Security had its own network, as well as the DG Finance, the Employment Institute, the DG Roads, etc. All of them existed with total independence and almost no communication with each other. Each was a state inside the State. The public administration was disposed having in mind its convenience and not the citizen’s convenience. Services integration was almost non-existent and any citizen could be submitted to almost a rally paper every time he needed a service that could involve more than one public body.

Public services were increasingly faced by citizens as bureaucratic, inefficient and even despotic, as the citizen was assumed by the administration not as the reason for its existence, but almost as burden. The public service delivery culture was seen as a serious handicap for national development. Gradually accustomed to models of service delivery in the private sector where customer's satisfaction is number one priority, public services were assumed as a face of an old school that appeared to be stuck in time.

But besides the general panorama of public's services low quality standards, the situation also generated a serious inconveniences: the time spent and the costs of service delivery were clear in terms of (in)efficiency. A totally fragmented service delivery system was a clear sign that strong efforts should be made in these domains envisaging to embrace a new paradigm to provide public services.

In this sense, the launch of the Citizens Shops represented a clear sign that something should and was being changed. The power of that change continues until today.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The benefits resulting from the projects’ implementation and continuous development are several and very diverse. However, we can summarize them in five global positive impacts:

One global benefit from the Citizen Shops project was that it clearly introduced a new concept of public service delivery, based in a model where the public administration adapts to citizens needs and conveniences, and not the inverse. In this sense, it literally revolutionized the model citizens’ access public services. In one single place, with an intuitive organization and following common rules of service delivery, the general public could now have access to a wide variety of utilities, from water or electric supply companies to ID card emission, from social security services to passport emission.

It worth’s also underlying that quality monitoring practises used in the Citizen Shop pushed in a positive way the adopted service delivery models. The Citizens Shops project has seriously promoted a quality oriented culture in public services delivery between its partners. With a serious approximation to a service provider/client referential, citizens’ opinions and satisfaction became much more important and was increasingly considered in the revision of service delivery practises. The willingness to overcome great challenges in service delivery domains became the motto of the initiative.

The efficiency increases were naturally one of the major results of the project. Not only serious improvements were obtained in terms of time for the delivery of public services, but also important savings were achieved due to the concentration of services and much more client oriented procedures.

The mentioned physical concentration of services was indeed an excellent proof of concept to impulse collaboration and partnerships between entities. As mentioned, Citizens Shops concentrate a wide variety of public and private services. The project is not only the result of a common effort to provide service delivery on the same spot, but also contributes to a major proximity between those actors. In this sense, the development of integrated services (e.g. I Lost my Wallet service; Changing Address service) or multi-services desks are also a result of that proximity, of common goals collaboration experiences

Although in our days, a Citizens Shop is a very common and familiar concept to Portuguese citizens, there is a clear notion that the project transformed the concept of in person public service delivery. It’s an unavoidable mark of public services modernization efforts of the last decade. .

Has mentioned, quality monitoring practises became central instruments to evaluate the project’s impact. In this sense, the increasing number of attendances at Citizens Shops – 81 millions from 1999 to June 2010 – is a clarifying indicator of objectives accomplishment by the project. On the other hand, the users’ satisfaction, monitored trough regular queries, is also a important practise to have in mind.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The XIII Constitutional Government (1995-1999) assumed public services reform, namely in terms of service delivery models, as one of its main priorities. The Government bureaucratic system should be more adapted to citizens’ needs and conveniences, promoting in this sense a major proximity between government and citizens. With that background, the Secretary of State for Public Administration created a Mission Structure with the objective of implementing in one single public spot a set of diverse public services. Created in 1997, that Mission Structure was responsible for the project's implementation in a first phase.

With the opening of the first shop in Lisbon in 1999, the concept was implemented for the first time. Several services, from public and private spheres, were delivered in a single place for citizens’ convenience. In this sense, the Citizens Shops is an obvious result of a serious effort and compromise of several entities in service delivery domains. Since the network is disposed at national level, municipalities have received an increasing role supporting the Citizen Shop implementation in their villages.

After the model proved to be successful, the Institute for Citizens Shops Management was created with the objective of coordinate the network at national level. In 2007, the institute was extinguished and its competencies were integrated in the new AMA - Agency for the Public Services Reform. AMA continues to be in our days the public entity responsible for the Citizens Shops network at national level.

Since the Citizens Shops is an unavoidable reference in public service delivery in Portugal, all the entities that integrate them – about 40 - contribute seriously for the model’ development. It’s not an excessive to say that the initiative is a worthy result of all the observed collaboration.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
As mentioned previously, the development of a network of Citizens Shops followed a global objective of developing a new concept of public service delivery, citizen centred and much more goal oriented. The following sectoral objectives of the project can be underlined:

1 – Citizen Convenience
2 – Services Effectiveness
3 – Collaboration

The Citizen Shops became an inspiring example that public services don't deserve to be seen as old fashioned service delivery models. Public services can and should use successful models already tested in others activities and should be in the forefront of the promotion of citizens’ convenience.

In his sense, the strategy to implement and develop the network has been based in the following axis:

1 – Strong Political Support
Since the project needs to mobilize several public and private entities to into a common goal of service delivery, it requires a clear political support.

2 – Robust Partnerships
The involvement of several entities with very diverse objectives and missions is also a key factor to succeed in the area. In this sense, the relations between the entities that integrate the network have become increasingly closer, enabling a productive collaboration in service delivery domains.

3 – High Quality Standards Commitment
The quality compromise, reflected in a citizen centred approach, promotes a new service delivery culture. The citizen is no longer someone the State can help, but mostly the reason of existence of each public service. Having this in mind, its convenience and satisfaction are the central objectives of the project.

The objectives and strategies of the project have been established in several programmatic documents from diverse entities. From the Government Programme to Public Services Improvements Actions Plans, the development of the Citizens Shops network is currently assumed using very diverse means. In the last years, the Secretary of State for Administrative Modernization is the primal responsible for the policy objectives in this domain.

As a natural development for a successful model, the 2º generation of Citizen Shops is already being implemented. It foresees new concepts and models of attendance. The two following should be mentioned:

- Integrated Desks
The integration of several public services into life events service delivery is one of main evolutions of the Citizens and Business Shops concept. One stop services are being increasingly developed, in loco or online, in a tremendous effort of collaboration between several public entities. The following services are already available in Portugal for any citizen

- Multi-services Desks
Consists in the aggregation of several simple services from diverse entities in one single desk. The citizen can, in this sense, avoid going to several entities and, from other perspective, the entities involved can use this model to decongest some of its services.

- Assisted Self-Service Kiosks
provide access to on-line services with assisted support by a member of staff.

This reloaded concept of Citizen Shops allows the project to adapt to public’s new demands in service delivery: integration, simplicity and effectiveness.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
We can underline the following development steps in the project:

1997 – A Mission Team was created depending on the Secretary of State for Public Administration. The objective was clear: to develop a model that allows the provision of multiple public services in one single spot.

1998 – Acquisition of two properties in Lisbon and Porto in order to install the first two Citizens Shops of the country

1999 – Inauguration of the Citizens Shops of Lisbon and Porto

2000 – A Resolution of the Council of Ministers defined the objective of development of a network of Citizen Service Points (CAP). CAP are multi-service stations that, in areas of lower population density, function as an extension of Citizen Shops. Inauguration of the Citizen Shops of Aveiro and Viseu.

2001 – A protocol was celebrated with the government of the Autonomous Region of Azores envisaging the development of a regional network of citizens service points. Inauguration of the Citizen Shops of Braga and Setúbal.

2002 – A protocol was celebrated with the government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira with the objective of creating a Citizen Shop in the region. Inauguration of the second Citizen Shop in Lisbon.

2003 - Inauguration of the Citizen Shop of Coimbra.

2005 – In the end of the year, eight shops were operating at national level.

2007 – The first Citizen Shop of 2º Generation was inaugurated in Odivelas, one of the most populated counties of the Lisbon area.

2009 – Inauguration of 9 Citizen Shops (Borba, Faro, Murça, Resende, Vimioso, Esmoriz, Tavira, Águeda and Freixo de Espada à Cinta).

2010 – Inauguration of 10 Citizen Shops (Cantanhede, Ponte da Barca, Campo Maior, Guarda, S. João da Madeira, Penafiel, Castelo Branco, Santo Tirso, Tarouca and Vila Nova da Barquinha). In the end of the year, 28 shops were operating all over the territory.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Instead of obstacles, we prefer to talk about challenges. In this sense, a project with the size of the Citizens Shops Network faces continuous obstacles that must be overcome. We can underline some with a global scope that reflect the path that is being tread:

A - Changing paradigm
The Citizens Shops model continues to represent a strong change in the paradigm of public service delivery. The citizen is now clearly in the centre and all is made having in mind its convenience. The quality procedures undertaken in the network are a perfect example of the permanent will to get simpler, faster and globally more effective public services.

B - Partners Articulation
Since each Citizen Shop involves several partners, from public and private spheres, its permanent reunion in a common effort constitutes a serial challenge. Although the model looks simple at first sight - to get several public services in one single spot - it also means that several organisms should now abdicate from its own network. That’s a great change that demands a strong political leadership.

C - High Demand
Since the first Citizen Shops in Lisbon and Porto back in 1999, the public demand has been always very high. As such, the response to that demand maintaining the quality of spaces, low waiting times and front office and back office capacity to respond to constitutes an obvious challenge.

D - From one stop shops to integrated services
The concentration of several services in one space continues to be a serious challenge. However, the natural tendency in our days is to achieve a next level of sophistication. Integrated services based in life events, for example, constitute an ultimate challenge in terms of citizens convenience. But it also corresponds to a deep back office connection and articulation effort between several services and entities. That’s the path that is being progressively undertaken in several domains.

To overcome the mentioned global scope challenges, there isn't a single remedy that can be undertaken. Diverse solutions have been adopted, but a transversal aspect should be mentioned: the projects success and the political consensus that benefits him are key enablers to any challenge that has been posed. The permanent will and serious trust in its benefits to all citizens is one of the major advantages of the Citizen Shops model.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The Citizen Shops network is a national project. The resources involved reflect that dimension and the political support the project obtained since its beginning:

̶ More that 50 millions euros invested in Citizens Shops of first and second generation.
̶ About 1500 employees all over the country, 150 of them from AMA and the and the rest from the participant entities
̶ About 90 millions attendances from 1999 to 2010

Although it worth’s underlining that its diverse dimension and tipology, here’some Examples of the investment made to open some Citizen Shops:

̶ Citizen Shop of Penafiel
Opened in November 12, with a total area of 885 m2 and 6 entities desks available, the total investment foreseen was of 1 500 000 €

̶ Citizen Shop of Vila Nova da Barquinha
Opened in September 2010, with a total area of 502 m2 and 3 service providers desks available, the total investment was of 590 000 €

̶ Citizen Shop of Campo Maior
Opened in September 2010, with a total area of 400 m2 and 3 service providers desks available, the total investment was of 338 000 €

To develop staff competences, a training programme on a b-learning format has been created. Its aims are:

• Enabling lifelong learning to the staff working at the Citizen’s Shops;
• Encouraging staff to take responsibility for their own learning;
• Providing all Citizen’s Shops with a Learning Management System that integrates all the training solutions available;
• Creating a collaborative and participative environment that stimulates staff to take part on the Shop’s improvement;

Until August 2010, 56 courses were developed and 723 trainees were involved.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The Citizens Shops model is a clear example of how a public initiative can accomplish with high standards of sustainability. In fact, that’s one of the elements that makes this project so unique.

In financial and economic terms, it should be clarified the management model that sustains the project. All the Citizens Shops spaces are managed by the Agency for the Public Services Reform (AMA). The agency proceeds to the renting of the spaces based on its dimensions. As counterpart of the services delivered by the Agency (e.g. cleaning, security, water, electricity, several kinds of technical assistance), a certain monetary value is charged to all entities that participate in the Citizens Shops. Besides those revenues, AMA also obtains some financing to that end from the State Budget.

In environmental and also economical terms, the Citizens Shops model has also very positive characteristics. As it can be easily understood, several recourses savings are obtained due to the concentration of services in one spot or even its integration. Important savings are obtained avoiding duplication of space rents or spaces maintenances, as well as support services. In sum, a lot is done with less resources.

As mentioned previously, the Citizens Shops network benefits from a strong political support from all national political forces. The consensus that involves the project is responsible for the regulatory and institutional framework that favours the project expansion. In fact, public service delivery distribution on urban areas is increasingly based in the model. Almost all district capitals in the country have a Citizen Shop, reflecting the institutional hegemony that the network has in terms of public service delivery policies.

As mentioned, the project as benefited from a strong expansion at national level. In 1999, two Citizen Shops were inaugurated. In the end of 2010, twenty eight were operating all over the country. And about 10 new are foreseen to 2011. The impressive expansion of the project at national level is a clear example of the models recognition.

The model was also recognised and adopted in Cape Vert. Launched in 2007, the House of Citizens project was inspired in the Portuguese example. A regular cooperation has existed between the two countries envisaging to continuously improve the model. The share of experiences and good practises has been very beneficial to both projects.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The initiative impact is naturally one of the key proofs of its success. In this sense, some numbers are clarifier in this domain:
- 28 Citizen Shops all over the country and about 10 new foreseen for 2011
- More than 81 millions of attendances since 1999; 5 millions in the first semester of 2010

But besides the above numbers, it worth’s to mention that Citizen Shops changed deeply the concept of public service delivery. And that change can be understood mostly trough its costumers i.e. the citizens that regularly used it. In that case, another proof of the success of the initiative is that almost everybody that has used it, adopt it as the privileged channel to interact in person with public services. It becomes a concept and a habit absolutely interiorized by user citizens.

Several lessons have been learned, as it can be expected from a project with dimension and front office experience like the Citizens Shops network. However, we can highlight the following tree, as they reflect several learned dimensions:

1 - Public Service Delivery Revitalization
In a time where public service delivery was increasingly criticized fort its inefficiency and mismatch from citizens conveniences, the Citizens Shops represented a clear good example. They have proved that public services can use models with the best quality standards available. And an all new culture of public service delivery, deeply citizen-centred, has largely emerged in Portugal inspired by the Citizen Shops example.

2 - Positive Experience in Public Services Partnerships
The Citizen Shops became in Portugal a clear example that partnerships between public institutions are very welcomed service delivery domains. These kind of common efforts become very useful and convenient to citizens, and also represent important improvements in terms of efficiency. The savings obtained trough cost reduction for support services are also important indicators of the path that should be followed in several public services domains.

3 - Contagious Improvement Will
The success of the one stop shop model also became very useful to motivate continuous improvements in several directions. Having always in mind the citizens’ convenience, the simplification of the necessary procedures to use a public service became a priority. And very innovative models of in person public service delivery have been developed since then. On the one hand, the integrated services based on life events (e.g. buying a house, changing address, I lost my wallet) are naturally seen as an immediate need in terms of development in service delivery. On the other hand, multi-services desks are used as a way to provide with a single interface several simple public services. All can be done through one single interaction with a public official.

As a conclusion, we can underline that Citizen Shops were and continue to be a very inspiring model of innovation in public service delivery. The citizen centricity becomes the cornerstone of a all new paradigm based on simplicity, efficiency and convenience. That’s, in short terms, what the new public administration should be about.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Agency for the Public Services Reform
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Gonçalo Caseiro
Title:   Member of the Board  
Telephone/ Fax:   +351 21 7231210
Institution's / Project's Website:   +351 21 7231255
Address:   Rua Abranches Ferrão, nº. 10 3ºG
Postal Code:   1600-001
City:   Lisbon
State/Province:   Lisbon
Country:   Portugal

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