Integrated Social Welfare Management System(ISWMS)
Korea Health and Welfare Information Service

The Problem

The social welfare policies of Korea are mainly determined by the central government and executed by local governments. Prior to developing an integrated information system, there were a number of problems with execution of welfare budgets such as duplicated receipt of benefits, administrative waste and corruption. Such problems occurred because the information system and the administrative process are not advanced enough despite increased welfare programs and budgets. Furthermore, clients have limited access to how the application is processed and when the services will be received, so, it failed to provide client-centered services.
In the late 2000s, the low fertility rate and aging population emphasized the importance of social welfare in the Korean society. Improvement in the delivery system was demanded to achieve value for money in welfare services and to resolve problems arising from ineffective welfare policy implementations. Using advanced information technology in Korea, the need to integrate welfare benefits and services provided by governments and to build an effective information system has been discussed continuously.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The Korean government established the Integrated Social Welfare Management System (ISWMS) to manage information regarding income and assets test and individual service records of approximately 14 million recipients. The system supports the delivery of 159 welfare payments and services for a number of governments including the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security. The system has brought to administrative 3Es (effectiveness, efficiency and economy) and transparency as well as means test accuracy.
First, the time required from application to determination on the delivery process was reduced from 50 to 17 administrative days after establishing the ISWMS. By virtue of real time inquiries of recipient records for the income and assets tests, the civil servants’ workload reduced significantly. Furthermore, while 15 official data came from 10 agencies were used in the past for means test, 385 official data connected automatically from 35 central governments and public agencies, including the National Tax Service and the Ministry of Labor. The information about recipients is collected for a lawful purpose, so the ISWMS is bound by strict confidential law. The integrated information is currently used in order to improve the accuracy of the recipient selection and the quality of benefit provision.
Second, a real-name service for delivering welfare benefits was implemented by conferring a distinct ID for each civil servant. Financial transparency was secured by preventing administrative corruption, embezzlement and duplicative benefits. It has produced financial results in saving annual budgets approximately 328.7 million dollar.
Third, as a core function of the ISWMS, ‘one-stop customized information system’ was promoted by connecting official data between agencies, allowing recipients to check and receive all available welfare payments and services quickly. The system enhanced the public satisfaction with welfare services.
Welfare administration specialization and delivery process efficiency have been improved via the ISWMS along with increasing public access convenience and increasing the client satisfaction with welfare benefits and services.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The establishment of the ISWMS for ‘a welfare delivery system responding to public needs’ was one of the main government agendas for the present administration beginning in 2008. To this end, the information system was formed to alleviate the workload of civil servants, to integrate benefits and services and to improve the public satisfaction. A task force for reforming the welfare delivery system was established with the participation of nine ministries and public agencies, local governments, academia, and private firms. Through this participation along with public hearings, a common understanding was formed by the public regarding the delivery system reformation.
The welfare information task force set the Korean government informatization plan and an agenda for improving welfare administration efficiency. In April 2009, the National Assembly provided a legal basis and related institutions, including the amendment of the Social Welfare Program Act. The Korea Health and Welfare information Service (KHWIS) was thus created on 7 Dec 2009 as a specialized information management public body.
Business Process Re-engineering and Information Strategy Planning (BPR/ISP) was carried out in partnership with KHWIS and other IT firms, such as Samsung SDS and LG CNS to establish a comprehensive database for the system. Since April 2010, KHWIS has been responsible for the development of the system. KHWIS has supported policy decision making processes for central governments and provided training programs for civil servants in local governments.

(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.
The main goals for the establishment of the ISWMS were to increase welfare administration efficiency for local governments, to enhance the satisfaction of recipients of welfare services, and to secure value for money in welfare budget.
In order to achieve these goals, the first strategy was the standardization of welfare services, and preparation of a basis for collecting official data for income and assets tests through automation, simplification, and welfare administration standardization using IT.
The second strategy intended to integrate information regarding means test from governments and other public bodies. It secured both budget savings and value for money through preventing administrative corruption in local governments and reducing duplication or omission of welfare benefits and services.
The third strategy was the connection of private resources and case management activation by strengthening customized services.
The final strategy was the amendment of the Social Welfare Program Act to establish KHWIS as a specialized information management agency, and to prepare a lawful basis for information connection, operation, and management.
Through these strategies, time consumption for welfare administration was reduced, local government welfare service was enhanced, and the efficiency of welfare budgets was increased.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The need for such an information system has been raised continuously since the 1990s. The need for an information system to support the service delivery process was also raised. During that period, however, establishment of an information system was not selected as a specific government agenda but merely remained as personal ideas of policy practitioners and the academia.
In the late 2000s, the central government specified information system establishment as a government agenda. During this period, the central government specified the necessity, concept, and provided a rough direction and made a plan for such an information system.
The establishment of an information system was selected as a core government agenda of the 17th presidential transition committee and the current Administration which commenced on February 2008. President Lee’s Administration set the establishment of an information system as an official agenda. To proceed with the specific plans, the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs specified the information system concept as ‘a system reducing the administrative workload of welfare civil servants in local governments, strengthening field service, improving the public satisfaction, and preventing duplication or omission of welfare benefits’ in March 2008. The basic system establishment plan and the information strategies were immediately set by the Ministry in April 2008.
The process of the system establishment was carried out in two phases. In the first phase, the Center for Social Policy and the Secretary official for Welfare Information set up their roles for implementing the plan under the supervision of the Deputy Commissioner for Social Policy. In the second phase, the project was led by the special task force. Central and local government civil servants and academic and research institution specialists participated in the task force along with private firms, such as Samsung SDS and LG CNS Consortium.
The ISWMS was opened on January 4, 2010. The initial phase was led by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. On April 26 of 2010, however, system management and operation was consigned to KHWIS. The tasks of functional improvement, and system management and stabilization really began at this time. KHWIS maintains the system stability and improvement by responding to functional improvement requests and other service requests from civil servants in local governments.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Difficulties in the ISWMS can be largely explained by two perspectives, such as network developmental process and network management phase. In the developmental phase, there have been problems due to a lack of understanding between agencies and an improper delivery system. In the management phase, changes in local government organizational structures pursuant to new system implementation and cognitive load to civil servants arising from the introduction of a new information system emerged as concerns.
While increased information connection and integration were required compared to other systems, the legal and systematic basis was weak, and understanding between agencies was also inadequate.
To overcome these difficulties effectively, the current government promoted institutional improvement along with the establishment of the information system. Comprehensive countermeasures termed ‘Smart Welfare’ were thus established to improve the delivery system encompassing pan-governmental agencies and other related institutions for welfare information integration, and the Social Welfare Program Act was amended for the system. Through these systematic improvements, a basis for forming cooperative relationships between agencies was established. On such basis, 385 units of official information for means test from 35 ministries and agency are linked to the Integrated Social Welfare Integrated Management System (ISWMS).
The change of organizational structure of local governments in the wake of the establishment of the ISWMS incurred lack of adaptability to the changed roles and duties of civil servants and cognitive load regarding a new system, which caused difficulty in its operation.
The central government and KHWIS prepared and implemented a variety of incentives and compensations in the process of system expansion, including providing training courses continuously and promoting system efforts to overcome difficulties in operating the system. In particular, KHWIS contributed significantly to the successful management ISWMS by providing training programs for civil servants and setting an official communication channel for central and local governments.
As of 2011, 230 local governments in Korea use the system successfully, along with system management and quality improvement being achieved through continuous training programs for civil servants in related fields.

(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 Integrated Social Welfare Management System (ISWMS) was established for enhancing the efficiency of delivering social welfare benefits and services including Basic Livelihood Security, Basic Old-age Pension and Childcare benefits. The ISWMS was promoted for the purpose of preventing administrative corruption and inappropriate budget execution and supporting various services to prepare a basis for comprehensive welfare benefits and services.
Approximately 25.6 Million Dollar was provided for system establishment, with 9.9 Million Dollar for labor costs in 2009, totally 35.5 Million Dollar. In the mean time, the welfare budget was successfully saved by virtue of accuracy improvements in means test for selecting recipients and investigating income and asset data. By modifying income and assets data on the ISWMS, removing inappropriate receipts of benefits were carried out. As a result, 179,000 out of 7,151,000 benefit recipients were found to be unqualified and removed off the benefit list. The welfare budget was thus saved by approximately 328.7 Million Dollar annually as a result. The budget savings were reused for the further eligible recipients, and are contributing to recipient satisfaction significantly.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The ISWMS was promoted as a key national informatization agenda for the present government. It was supported institutionally and financially for its sustainable operation
First, a basis for system operation and management was prepared by amending the Social Welfare Program Act, and sustainable operation is guaranteed by the Act.
Second, necessary financing for system operation and management were secured by amending related laws. Also by establishing KHWIS, a basis for organizational management has been established. The reform of national welfare delivery process is being grounded in the ISWMS, and welfare policies and budget plans are assisted by this system.
Currently, 230 local governments are also delivering welfare services on the behalf of many other ministries through the ISWMS, and from 2013, all welfare services executed by central ministries will be implemented through the system.
To attain transferability between nations, Information Technology patent registration was completed, and organizational support is being provided by preparing to meet international standards. KHWIS had an opportunity to introduce the performance of the ISWMS in the International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IISA), Asian Group for Public Administration (AGPA) and UNDESA international conference held in Beijing, 2011. Bahrain government representatives have been bench-marked the system for reforming their social welfare delivery system in 2010. KHWIS conducted the basic consultation for organizations, environment, institutions and financial supports for the Bahrain government.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The ISWMS has contributed to the administrative efficiency, upheld client centered welfare services, and expanded welfare service opportunities through efficient management of welfare budgets. In particular, an active public welfare service has been made available through delivery system improvement.
The core successful components of the ISWMS were national interest, governmental cooperation grounded in pan-government connectivity, preparation of a legal and institutional basis, gaining common public understanding, and the integration and connection of public agencies’ information for welfare delivery system improvement.
Finally, based on a strong commitment by the President and related agencies towards system improvement, the active participation of the public was also a core component for the success of the sustainable system.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Korea Health and Welfare Information Service
Institution Type:   Public Organization  
Contact Person:   Young Jin Ham
Title:   Research Fellow  
Telephone/ Fax:   +82-2-6360-6475/+82-2-6360-6360
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   15F Kukdong Bldg., 60-1 Chungmu-ro 3ga, Jung-gu
Postal Code:   100-705
City:   Seoul

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