Social Security Information System(SSIS)
Korea Health and Welfare Information Service

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Before a new system was developed in 2010, Korea faced diverse problems with its social services. It had 17 government ministries separately managing 292 welfare payments and services, and none of the services was connected. Consequently: 1) Korean citizens suffered great inconvenience when applying for access to welfare payments they were entitled to. - Korean citizens had a great deal of difficulty determining which payment they were eligible for out of the 292 options. For example, the Ministry of Health and Welfare supported childcare services and the Ministry of Education supported infant tuition fee. Therefore, Each citizen had to personally check their qualifications for the welfare payments and services provided by each of the 17 government ministries. - To apply for welfare payments, citizens had to visit each public institution and prepare about 37 types of documents, making the application procedure very complex. 2) The administrative processing of welfare payments and services was inefficient, since each ministry separately managed them. - Many welfare payments in Korea are determined through an investigation of assets (income and property), and each ministry conducted its own investigation, wasting time on duplicate administrative costs and work. In addition, it took an average of 60 days from application to final decision to guarantee welfare, so ministries had difficulty providing timely support. 3) There was a high possibility of duplicate receipt or unjust receipt of welfare payments and services. a) The capability of civil servants in the welfare ministries to precisely measure the income and assets of applicants was limited because they used only 15 types of administrative papers and documents personally submitted by the applicants. Therefore, many citizens who were not qualified improperly received welfare payments. b) Designed separately by the 17 ministries, welfare payments often overlapped. Since projects were managed at different levels by the city, county, and district, a recipient was paid multiple similar payments. - For example, six ministries, including health and welfare, land, infrastructure, and transport, executed and managed eight projects to help repair houses for the most vulnerable classes. The overlap meant that the same person received similar welfare services from several ministries. This became a social issue.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Building the Social Security Information System 1) Proposal for the system - The Social Security Information System (SSIS) was first proposed and pursued by President Lee Myung-bak in 2008. As a presidential candidate in December 2007, Lee proposed, “building a comprehensive welfare information network for the efficient building of a welfare provision system” as one of his election promises. He proposed to first improve the methods and procedures of civil servants working in government ministries and local governments that dealt with issues of the delivery process of welfare. Second, he wanted to manage recipients of welfare by connecting and maximizing use of information possessed by the government, public institutions, and financial institutions. Finally, he wanted to build a social security information system to support and realize these changes. - The Park Geun-hye administration, newly inaugurated in 2013, later proposed during their election campaign that, “welfare [be] customized to each life cycle.” The management of the Social Security Information System thus became all the more important as a tool to realize the pledge. 2) Solving the problem - The Korean government built the Social Security Information System step-by-step from 2009 to 2013. It was designed to comprehensively manage information on qualification, as well as records of 14 million welfare recipients. These records provide the basis for making payments from 292 systems in 17 ministries. - At the initial stage, the system was built to manage information on recipients’ qualifications and records of welfare payments and services led by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. At the second stage, key features were applied in the 17 ministries related to welfare in the following order: a) The business process was reengineered (BPR) around welfare payments and services directed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. - Once “an investigation into the application, income, and assets” was conducted as a key and common process for the provision of welfare, a comprehensive delivery process was newly prepared for the investigation’s adoption for diverse welfare payments and services. This process was to minimize the citizens’ inconvenience in having to apply separately for diverse welfare payments. b) Measures were prepared to connect information and solve the inefficient administrative process. - The measures allowed the checking of 100 different kinds of materials necessary for determining income, thus shortening the time it took from application to decision to guaranteeing the service. c) The measures allowed for the searching of records of past receipts of diverse welfare payments and services, thus preventing duplicate receipt. - For this, a database organized by past welfare payment and service was changed to one that included individuals and households. d) An information system was built for pan-governmental use. - Ministries that used different and separate information systems to provide and manage welfare services could now use the features and information of the Social Security Information System (SSIS) for application submission, materials on income and assets, as well as receipt of qualifications and records. - The Social Security Information System used features of ministries other than the Ministry of Health and Welfare, so the system could be used in eight types of modules by combining features so different information systems could flexibly select the necessary module.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
1) The Social Security Information System (SSIS) amalgamated the maximum number of official documents from all ministries in order to minimize user inconvenience and the inefficiency of having to separately enter user data. - Information systems previously used to manage state welfare programs allowed the limited use of materials on income and assets so civil servants had to rely heavily on documents obtained by applicants. Civil servants had to reenter materials into their own information systems. The SSIS enabled civil servants in social welfare to use materials on income and assets acquired from several government offices, such as the National Tax Service, which improved existing inefficiencies. 2) Prepared comprehensive application procedures by reengineering their administrative processes. - The administrative process of the 292 welfare services provided by each ministry is diverse and complex. The priority for selecting welfare recipients differs largely between offices. To improve this, the administrative processes were reengineered to standardize as much as possible the process of “application - investigation – decision to guarantee – payment.” The standardized process was built so the SSIS could process it. This allowed each ministry that manages a welfare program to use the modules they need.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Korean government drew up a comprehensive target system for efficient welfare services and administration management that would minimize inconvenience and provide integrated welfare services. In addition, laws and systems were reorganized to prepare for this. By having ministries cooperate and connect public information as well as introduce the Social Security Information System (SSIS) step-by-step, the government minimized confusion. It did this in the following steps: 1) Reengineering the delivery process of welfare programs under the Ministry of Health and Welfare and building a target system (2008–2009): - In April 2008, the SSIS first standardized and reengineered the delivery process of welfare programs under the Ministry of Health and Welfare. It drew up an Information Strategy Plan for its programs. Representatives of local government, ministries, and private professional IT consulting companies participated in drawing up common goals, and then built the information system. - The architecture of the database, which used be built based on regions and welfare programs, was redesigned based on individuals and households. This meant that any welfare program could be processed using the system, and that individual and household recipients were at the center of state welfare programs rather than the government and its programs. - In December 2009, the “Social Welfare Project Act” was amended to amalgamate the maximum number of official documents necessary for the SSIS from government and financial institutions. Comprehensive work guidelines for social welfare projects were prepared, and standards for delivery processing were proposed. Finally, civil servants in social welfare working in local governments were notified. 2) Managing the SSIS and preparing its pan-governmental spread (2010–2011) - During the first stage of managing the system, local governments used the system for about 100 welfare services from the Ministry of Health and Welfare (January 2010). This helped minimize work confusion among civil servants and citizens. The system was successfully introduced through continued publicity targeting the public and training of civil servants. - The Ministry of Health and Welfare conducted investigations twice a year to check the qualifications of service recipients using the SSIS. Unqualified recipients and newly qualified recipients could thus be identified. 3) Pursuing the pan-governmental use of the SSIS (2011–present) - Encouraged by such achievements, the government held a state policy fine-tuning meeting in June 2011 and decided to connect the SSIS beyond Ministry of Health and Welfare programs but also to the programs of all 17 ministries. - The government enacted a prime ministerial order in September 2011 that formed a task force for the comprehensive management of welfare information, because the implementation of such policy decisions demanded a cooperative system between the relevant government ministries. - Two measures were pursued for the pan-governmental use of the SSIS from August 2012. First, pan-governmental use of the comprehensive investigation process (application–investigation–guarantee–decision) using the income, asset, and personal data of the SSIS was promoted. This allowed the precise selection of those in need of welfare payments and services. Second, the government acquired records of welfare program recipients from the ministries and public offices managing welfare programs. This allowed for advance inspection of prohibited welfare payments and services or duplicate provision by taking follow-up measures. - The implementation of these policies, however, demanded a firm legal basis. When the current president Park was a legislator in 2012, she specified that government ministries must actively use the SSIS in the amendment of the Framework Act on Social Security. In addition, the government is currently investigating how the system can be used to create “welfare customized to the life cycle,” as pledged by the current administration in 2013.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The Social Security Information System (SSIS) was first proposed by former president Lee Myung-bak as an election pledge and a tool for building of an efficient welfare delivery system. The Blue House, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, other government ministries as well as private institutions collaborated to complete the system in stages: 1) The first stage of the SSIS - The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Task Force to revamp the system of providing social welfare formed in 2008 amended relevant laws in 2009 to prepare a legal basis for the building the new information system. - According to the legal basis thus prepared, 37 government offices including the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the National Tax Service, and public institutions worked together for pan-governmental cooperation to acquire and use 448 types of official documents. - On achieving pan-governmental cooperation, The first stage of the system was thus built, enabling the management of welfare services under the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In addition, the Korea Health and Welfare Information Service (KHWIS) was established in 2009 to take full responsibility for the management of the system after its development. 2) The second stage of the SSIS - After 2010, the KHWIS organized and developed the SSIS for pan-governmental use. The prime minister’s office mediated the diverse needs of multiple offices for welfare payments and services. - After February 2013, the 292 separate welfare services from 17 ministries were integrated, connected, and are now managed together using the SSIS. - About 35,000 civil servants responsible for social welfare of local governments are now the main users of the system, as well as the civil servants of 17 ministries related to welfare. User polls are regularly conducted to address and solve any inconveniences they experience.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The budget to build and manage the Social Security Information System was consolidated by a strong leadership of Korea’s former president. A structure for the comprehensive provision of welfare services is now being built. 1) Consolidating financial resources to execute the president’s pledged project - The Social Security Information System was an important pledge made by former president Lee Myung-bak, and a government budget was devoted to develop an information system for the management of welfare that reflected the characteristics of all official aids and payments made by the Korean government. - A total of KRW 58 billion(54 million USD) was invested to build the system by the end of 2012. The first stage saw KRW 25.6 billion(24 million USD) invested to build the system, of which there was KRW 9.9 billion(9 million USD) in labor cost from 2009 to 2010. For later repair and maintenance, KRW 10.3(9 million USD) billion was spent. For the second stage, KRW 12.2 billion(11 million USD) was spent from 2011 to 2012. 2) Consolidating technological and human resources - Technological resources for the Social Security Information System were consolidated by signing technology service contracts with private companies specializing in IT under the management and decision-making of the Ministry of Health and Welfare. As a large information system civil servants could not have built the SSIS, so assistance from the private sector was indispensable. In particular, business processes, which are difficult to realize with existing Web browsers, were made possible using X-internet technology. For this, the ministry signed user-right contracts and transferred technology. - The Ministry of Health and Welfare established a division to be fully responsible for the stable management of the system. Today there are about 30 staff members working in the division and make decisions for additional development, expansion of features, and management of the system. About 100 staff members are employed at the Korea Health and Welfare Information Service, established at the end of 2009, and they currently provide technological support for the system, and are responsible for the working-level management of the system.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1) Information precision of the Social Security Information System - The system collects and uses 448 types of data from 37 government and public offices to precisely calculate the qualifications of welfare recipients. The state possesses the information, which represents all the data the government can legally collect. The precision in calculating and managing the qualifications of welfare recipients has largely improved since 2010. 2) Comprehensive management of welfare recipients’ qualifications and records - The Social Security Information System generates or collects information on the qualifications and records of diverse welfare service recipients in order to regularly update it. Such information is highly reliable because it is provided in a simple way to numerous welfare providing institutions in need of the information to support their business processing. In this regard, the Social Security Information System plays the role of a hub in Korea’s welfare system. 3) Greater flexibility and expandability because of the newly designed database based on individuals and households - The welfare administration information system that preceded the Social Security Information System had its database organized by region and program. Thus, when a welfare recipient moved, necessary information was often not transferred to the welfare organization in the region a recipient moved to. Furthermore, when a new welfare program was introduced, it suffered from technological limitations in adding features and processing relevant work. However, the Social Security Information System manages information on qualifications for and records of welfare payments by individuals and households, so that even if people change residence or new welfare programs are introduced, it is relatively easy to process them. 4) Supporting the welfare business processes of numerous ministries, including those of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, by comprehensively turning the processes into modules - The Social Security Information System reengineered the business process to realize a standardized process of “application – investigation – guarantee – decision.” Each stage was combined and turned a module in 2013, in order to provide eight features and thus support the welfare business processes. This enabled civil servants involved in welfare provision to not only use information on the qualifications and records of welfare recipients in the Social Security Information System, but also to use all or parts of its business process features when in need to support its welfare provision work.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The Social Security Information System (SSIS) is regularly monitored by a security system and civil servants in local governments. 1) Building a system for regular monitoring and management of the SSIS included: - The System’s stability is very important for local government employees because they use it carry out everything from applications to investigation of qualifications, rulings, and the provision of payments. - Given its importance, civil servants regularly monitor the system. The Korea Health and Welfare Information Service regularly manages the service, and as the system manager it requests organization as well as maintains a structure to immediately respond to errors. In addition, there is a regular monitoring system for the operation of the information system and anticipatory response protocol that works against potential problems. - Key persons from local government who are using the System are selected to monitor the system’s operation. Regular activity reports collect opinions on improvement, which are reflected them in the system, thus making efforts to build diverse management monitoring structures. In addition, investigations are conducted twice a year to check and monitor both welfare recipients and the system. 2) Management of a system for regular monitoring and protection of personal information - The Social Security Information System uses personal information, making monitoring the security of information very important. In order to secure the system: - A technological and systemic security device was created for the protection of personal information and as a regular monitoring protocol. In particular, “the system for regular monitoring of personal information protection” determines rule violations through system log analyses and violators face disciplinary action. - User awareness programs stress the importance of personal information protection through training. 3) Evaluation of the information system’s achievements alongside the evaluation of the Korea Health and Welfare Information Service - The Social Security Information System is evaluated via the Korea Health and Welfare Information Service. - The Ministry of Health and Welfare mandated the Korea Health and Welfare Information Service to manage the Social Security Information System. It is charged with ensuring quality management, linkage of information, and integration of information of the system through annual evaluations of the service by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance. - In addition, Korea’s Board of Audit and Inspection regularly audits and evaluates items to supplement operating and managing the system, and the service reflects the findings of evaluations in its management.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Although there were stumbling blocks, such as legal problems, information protection problems, and the differing attitudes of ministries in supporting the building of the Social Security Information System (SSIS), the government and the KHWIS prepared measures to overcome them. 1) A legal basis for the pan-governmental use of the SSIS - According to the current Social Welfare Project Act, the personal details can be collected under strict conditions. However, the legal basis for the use of the SSIS’s information for welfare projects of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and other ministries was weak. - In 2012, when the incumbent president Park Geun-hye was a legislator, she eagerly tabled amendments to the Framework Act on Social Security and collaborated so that all government institutions could smoothly operate the system. 2) Solving the passive attitude of government institutions - For the system to use the personal information collected by 37 government institutions, they would precisely fit the set standards. This task took much time and manpower because the government institutions responded passively to the initiative at first. - To solve this problem, a separate task force was formed under by the prime minister to conduct monthly monitoring on progress made and to promote progress for the building of the information system. 3) Solving concerns over personal information leakage and abuse - Many were worried of possible abuse and leakage of the information because the system contained personal details. Risk of hacking and leaks was minimized because the system did not operate on an open Internet network, but a closed administrative network. Risk remained, however, from system users leaking personal information. - To solve this problem, 2 enforcement regulations and 39 guidelines were amended to enhance the degree of personal information protection. The system is also regularly monitored to prevent such problems.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Building the Social Security Information System (SSIS) helped improve administrative inefficiency and reduced citizens’ inconvenience due to the separate provision of welfare services by each ministry. In addition, it prevented duplicate or unfair receipt of welfare and saved government spending. 1) Convenience in using welfare administration services rapidly improved. - The SSIS has a database of 14 million welfare recipients. In the past, it was difficult for civil servants on the front line to tell which payments could be provided to each applicant because welfare payments were too complex and diverse. However, after the system was built, it became possible to guide potential recipients through a one-stop initial consultation for 292 welfare payments from 17 ministries. - The system linked information thereby enabling applicants to apply at once for numerous welfare payments without having to collect documents to prove their qualifications. As a result, applicants were able to learn about welfare payments and even apply for some through a portal Web site (Bokjiro). Since 2011, the number of payments that can be applied for online has increased annually. 2) The Social Security Information System improved administrative efficiency by: a) Enabling the timely processing of work to ensure speedy support to citizens in need of welfare services. - The government can now use the SSIS to comprehensively manage its welfare administration process from application to decision to provide payments for each of the 292 welfare payments. This shortened the time it took to provide National Basic Livelihood Security from an average of over 60 days to 12.8 days. In addition, in the case of the house rental project, what took 20 days in the past has been shortened to within 3 days. Furthermore, the types of documents applicants have to submit have been simplified from the existing seven to one. b) The consolidation of business process precision has saved government money. - Before the System was built, government institutions selected welfare recipients using the information that applicants submitted and the 15 types of official materials they collected. Now, the government links 448 types of official information collected from 37 government ministries, including the National Tax Service. In particular, for greater precision of income and asset investigations, over 45 types of information are linked for use, while in the past, only 2 were linked. This helped prevent cases of duplication, improper payments. Of a previous 14 million welfare recipients, 170,000 (1.2%) were ruled not qualified, thus preventing improper receipt of welfare. - Welfare payments and services are thus stopped or adjusted according to the living conditions of recipients. Given an administrative culture that makes it difficult for the government to actively punish or file a lawsuit against fraudulent recipients, the system is indispensable for sustainable consolidation and reliability. 3) Welfare finance execution has become more transparent. - In 2009, many payment processes could be temporarily changed and embezzlement by civil servants occurred. After the system was built, as the business process became electronic, it also became possible to check and prevent any corruption by giving each civil servant and ID. 4) A coherent welfare system. - The System collects records of 292 diverse and complex welfare payments and services, enabling the checking and prevention of improper provision of services. This naturally leads to greater coherence overall between the welfare systems and to a fine-tuning of each system. 5) Example - The management of the house rental project by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs changed as follows after the information system was built: First, documents for income and asset investigation changed from 4 to 21 for enhanced precision, and required documents from applicants were simplified from 7 types to 1. In addition, the time it took to investigate applicants shortened from 3 weeks to 2 days. It also became possible to conduct investigations into qualifications every 2 years and weed out improper welfare recipients. ※ House rental project: project wherein the central and local governments support 85 percent of the construction cost of refurbishing homes and then have the residents or the National House Fund pay the rest. It is a service supporting the rental of houses constructed with public funds to ensure stable residence for the urban low-income class.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Social Security Information System began operating in 2010 and is being continuously expanded to a greater number of welfare projects. Korea is now expanding its welfare projects and the system is an indispensable tool for their efficient and effective management. Both the preceding administration of Lee Myung-bak and the current administration of Park Geun-hye identified the management of welfare systems using an information system as a key state task of the government. 1) Building and managing a sustainable information system - First, the government has not only the Ministry of Health and Welfare, but all ministries use the Social Security Information System in managing recipients and payments of their welfare projects according to the Social Welfare Project Act and the Framework Act on Social Security. It has now become impossible to manage public aid and social services without the system. - Second, annual funds necessary for the operation and management of the system are being stably supported with state funds that allow the system to be repaired, maintained, and upgraded every year. 2) Sharing the case of the Social Security Information System - The Social Security Information System is easily applicable to any country using numbers to distinguish individuals. International standards are being prepared to support the international transfer and spread of the system. - Korea’s Social Security Information System processed eight projects under the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2010. Its application was expanded to 130 welfare services from 10 government ministries in 2012 as a first stage and then to 292 services from 17 ministries in 2013 as a second stage. The system was sufficiently consolidated and its flexibly expanded. - In terms of the international spread of the system, a government delegation from the Ministry of Social Development of Bahrain visited the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea Health and Welfare Information Service in 2010 when the system was first introduced. The delegation sought to revamp Bahrain’s social welfare service provision system. During their visit, the delegation learned the organizational, systemic, and financial cases of Korea. - The visit was made at the recommendation of UNDESA, which called the system as an example of e-government best practice.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The Social Security Information System (SSIS) enhanced the transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness of public administration and ultimately helped recover the reliability of public administration and improve citizens’ satisfaction with it. 1) Necessity of responsible government and leadership - Cooperation between many ministries is indispensable for building an information system to be used by 17 government ministries. However, because the goals pursued by each ministry differed, it was not easy to mediate all of their interests and opinions. Measures were therefore necessary in order to minimize egoism between the ministries. - The conflicting interests of the ministries were overcome with powerful leadership by the head of state. Both the former and current presidents strongly pursed the building and spread of the Social Security Information System for its pan-governmental speedy and stable application. Such powerful leadership led to efficient pan-governmental execution of welfare services, improving the experience of the citizenry. 2) Pursuit of policies reflecting the characteristics of each welfare project - Ministry of Security and Public Administration was the central body dictating Korea’s state informatization policy. The role of the ministry and that of the Ministry of Health and Welfare came into conflict when building the pan-governmental Social Security Information System in 2011. To solve this problem, state policy mediation meetings were held, led by the prime minister who proposed the pursuit of welfare informatization policies headed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, given the characteristics of welfare projects and the particularity of welfare payments and services. Under such policy mediation, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration transferred its accumulated know-how to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which used this information to successfully build the Social Security Information System. Therefore, policy mediation by the government is necessary when conflicts exist between ministries, and the relevant ministries should collaborate and cooperate for the successful building of such a system. 3) Touring training services are necessary for ideal adaptation to the new system - Even the best systems cannot spread smoothly if their users find them difficult to use. The early stage of implementation saw difficulty spreading the use of the system because of difficulties experienced by users. The Ministry of Health and Welfare responded by providing touring training services to ensure the smooth spread of the system. It also managed an online and offline Service Request Center to reply to users’ questions. Therefore, it is necessary to enhance advance training and follow-up support to maximize user convenience and minimize burden for civil servants. 4) Future tasks - The Social Security Information System has currently become an indispensable tool for government and society. The system needs to further develop into an intelligent e-government system that will be fully responsible for all welfare services provided to Korean citizens. The aim is that it will provide customized service for individual needs by analyzing and using big data.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Korea Health and Welfare Information Service
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Young Jin Ham
Title:   Dr  
Telephone/ Fax:   82-2-6360-6373
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   173, Toegye-ro(Chungmuro 3-ga), Jung-gu
Postal Code:   100-705
City:   Seoul
State/Province:   Seoul

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