By the initiative of President Lee Myung Bak, the social security information system was implemented in Korea. During the December 2007 presidential election campaign, then presidential candidate Lee Myung Bak pledged to “establish an integrated network of welfare information in order to make an efficient welfare delivery structure.” After his inauguration, President Lee said in March 2008 that the “welfare budget has increased, but its delivery system remains almost ancient,” directing the government “to improve the welfare delivery system,” leading to the decision to change that system. First, this was intended to increase efficiency in procedures and methods by which the related government offices and local government welfare officials operated. Second, the reform was intended to maximize the use of matching data provided by the government, public agencies, and financial institutions. Third, the reform was to establish an information system aimed at achieving and supporting these changes.
In April 2008, a task force was organized to reshuffle the social welfare delivery structure, led by the Presidential Blue House Office and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, with participation of related ministries and public and private institutions.
In April 2009, the Social Welfare Project Act was revised to prepare a legal basis for establishing and operating the social security information system. The new law served as a basis for the cross -government cooperation of 37 ministries and public agencies, through which each could obtain and use 442 categories of public documents owned by these ministries and agencies, including the Labor Ministry, the Supreme Court of Korea, and the National Tax Service. The system was constructed between December 2008 and January 2010, when the information system began running for the benefit of the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The Korea Health and Welfare Information Service (KHWIS) was established in December 2009 as the exclusive agency operating the social security information system.
Since 2010, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and KHWIS have led efforts to streamline and integrate information from related institutions, leading system development projects. The Prime Minister’s Office, which stands above these ministries, coordinates diverse issues and inter-ministerial differences of opinion that may arise when managing welfare benefits.
Following this development process, the information system now operates to provide 10.4 billion dollars of welfare benefits a year. At the same time, it creates information about qualifications of diverse social service beneficiaries and recipient history, providing 54 types of information to 18 governmental offices and public agencies. As it now stands, about 40,000 government officials in charge of social welfare at local governments are using the information system in handling their welfare work.