REGOS e-usluge (ENA)
Središnji registar osiguranika

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Central Registry of Affiliates (REGOS) is an institution founded by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, with the aim of providing technical support for the second pillar of pension insurance. The founder of the Central Registry of Affiliates is the Republic of Croatia. REGOS aims to be an institution serving citizens, recognized by the wider public for its efficiency and the high level of quality of the services it provides, as well as best business practice, in accordance with EU accepted standards. REGOS continually improves the quality of services, through the efficient, economical and rational management of available public resources, while applying modern organisation, contemporary technical and technological solutions and a high level of expertise and professionalism among staff and management. Main goals of REGOS are to meet the needs and expectation of clients, institutions and individuals, and society as a whole, as the end users, by means of rational, transparent use of budget resources and the optimum allocation of sources of financing, to develop and promote e-business with clients in the wider context, while applying global standards for the protection and security of the IT system, and to improve continually the operations and results of each segment of the system. One of the official documents REGOS generates upon the affiliates' request is the Registry Certificate. The Certificate contains information regarding a person's income over specific period of time. This certificate has become a de facto proof of income, requested by banks, leasing companies and other financial institutions, when a person applies for loan. In order to receive a Certificate, citizens had to fill and file a request form and enclose a revenue stamp which costs 40 Kn (circa 5,3 EUR). Certificates were issued at a single physical location where citizens could file the request in person and also receive the Certificate - at the REGOS's service desk. Requests could be sent in by mail, in which case the Certificate was also mailed out by registered mail. In most cases, citizens required the Certificate urgently, within a day or two, which was impossible to obtain by mail. The process created a geographical inequality, impacting 3/4 of the population - those living outside of nation's capital, where REGOS is located. Those who decided to visit the REGOS service desk, in most cases, had to be absent from work. Occasional forgeries impacted financial institutions, Certificate's end users. This issue forced many dutiful clerks to verify the Certificate's validity with REGOS, and had even created a number of legal cases against forgers. Over the span of several years, number of Certificate requests increased from up to 50 per day to a range between 100 and 150. Combination of these factors put REGOS's limited resources under stress, causing significant delays and overall service level degradation.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
REGOS proposed implementation of the system which would enable equal availability to all of its users. It would accept requests for documents via Internet, and documents would be issued in a timely fashion, within several seconds, regardless of the requester's location. REGOS's affiliates and other persons would use the same authentication procedure for electronic document access, ensuring confidentiality and personal data protection. The system would have to be extremely easy to use, without the need for any special hardware, software, drivers or configuration. Ordinary web browser, supporting common protocols on the World Wide Web, should be sufficient. Access should be possible for desktop computers and mobile devices, such as smart phones or tablets. Document file format should be based on an open standard, universally readable on a multitude of devices and operating systems. PDF file format was chosen because it fit these requirements. System would also be based on open-source technologies. During January 2013, an online system was implemented. It enabled its users to both apply for, and receive, electronic documents. A new, electronic version, of previously described Certificate, which is issued as a proof of one's income, was created. All other documents that REGOS issued were made available in the same fashion. Electronic data delivery became a completely automated process, consisting of the following steps: - user authentication, - online document request submission, - request forwarding into REGOS's internal software system, - electronic document creation, - digital signature addition, - document storage for online access, - document availability notice delivery via e-mail and/or SMS. Today, electronic version of Certificate issued by REGOS is universally accepted by banks, leasing companies and other financial institutions. Newly adopted system enabled equal service access to all the citizens, living in both rural and urban areas alike. It also eliminated negative impact on working population because documents can now be requested 24/7, using any device with internet access. Electronic document delivery service is completely free of charge for all its users.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
This project introduced first widespread use of electronic documents in the Republic of Croatia. Involved were the public sector - REGOS, business sector - banks and other end users of electronic documents, and the citizens. This was first widespread use of signing electronic documents with server digital signature in an automated process. The system was designed to deliver any type of document existing in paper form, if it could be created electronically, which was the case with all documents REGOS issued to citizens. Also, electronic document delivery is implemented as a modular system, currently handling several different document types, with the option of adding new document types as needed. Embedded digital signature enables standardized, fast and simple document authenticity validation by its end users, the business sector. This was also first major e-government system in Croatia built using open-source software components. Open standards and open-source technologies form a flexible software base, simple to implement and extend, supporting seamless interoperability with other systems.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
After the initial system outline was envisioned, further steps were taken to refine its design details. The project had to fit within significant temporal and financial limits. At this point, REGOS barely kept up with the document issuing process, so a working solution had to be implemented in a matter of months. On the other hand, budget cuts across all government departments left no significant financial resources available. An IT company was chosen to implement the software using open-source components. Among other positive aspects, open-source software entails no licensing fees, so major savings were achieved. Also, it eliminates a potential vendor lock-in - an unpleasant situation in which proprietary software delivered by a single vendor becomes very expensive over time, but it is also prohibitively expensive and/or impractical to replace by another vendor. In order to save both time and money, any preexisting compatible systems and processes would be reused. User authentication subsystem, in use since 2002 by another REGOS's process, was reused through an open user authentication standard. It was eventually replaced year and a half later by a national-level user authentication infrastructure (NIAS). Both of these basically map a username/password combination to a national identification number, which uniquely identifies a person requesting a digital document. Another reused system was document generating application, used previously for paper-based documents. Instead of printing and stamping the PDF document, REGOS's staff would upload it to a new system, which in turn added a digital signature and made it available for download by the requesting person. This process was not ideal, since it still involved REGOS's operators, but it was an improvement. Eventually, automated request processing was implemented using open standard. It connected new document delivery system and the preexisting databases, so the requests could be handled in a matter of seconds, 24/7. Parallel with the software development, meetings and seminars were organized for the business sector members. Clear and direct communication was critical because any misunderstanding of the new document delivery process by its end users would cause the project to fail. Processes within business entities required minimal adjustments, however these still had to be communicated clearly across all of their hierarchy levels. Test environment was established for several key users so they could provide feedback before real world use started. After the system was put into production, information was disseminated through media and REGOS's electronic newsletter. User feedback was collected via REGOS's call center. Chronology of the activities: June 2012 Basic idea and system outline was presented. June - October 2012 Further improvement of the system architecture design. Identification of existing resources. Identification of major implementation steps. October - December 2012 System design was accepted. Initial implementation guideline was produced. Software implementation started. Software was implemented in a test environment. December 2012. Seminars for electronic documents' end users (business sector). January 25, 2013. System was made available for public use with total of 5 document types available. REGOS's operators were still needed for request processing. Automated request processing development started. July 29, 2013. Automated request processing was completed and put into production. March 2014 Total of 8 document types were available. June 10, 2014 Integration with NIAS (National Identification and Authentication Service) was implemented.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Project was designed by REGOS's staff. The following partners contributed to the implementation: Ultima A private software company, implemented electronic document delivery service and the integration with other systems. APIS A public software company, provided legacy user authentication system (in use since 2002) and initial document request submission. FINA A government agency, maintains REGOS's database systems which were adapted for automated document issuing. Croatian Chamber of Economy Supported the project, organized seminar for their members (leasing institutions and other companies), helped disseminate information via electronic newsletter. Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts Included relevant information regarding electronic documents in its printed monthly publication sent to all the members. Government of the Republic of Croatia Initiated implementation of e-Citizens project. This umbrella project standardized user authentication (through NIAS) and some other visual and technical aspects of all the e-government systems. All major banks in Croatia, and other leasing and financial institutions They accepted electronic documents as relevant documentation in their internal systems. This required policy adaptations.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Financial resources allocated for the project: - Initial software development: 4,200 EUR, - Annual maintenance (software bug fixes and upgrades), computing and networking resources lease, SMS notifications, digital certificates: 14,200 EUR. Project was entirely funded from REGOS's budget. Investment was approved by the Ministry of Labor and Pension System, REGOS's parent institution. REGOS's IT department and document issuing personnel spent 1,200 person-hours on the project implementation. APIS development team spent an estimated 120 person-hours on authentication protocol implementation. This protocol was also implemented for partner's other internal purposes so the expenses were not billed. FINA developed web service for automated document issuing. This activity was classified as maintenance within the existing contract. Use of preexisting technical resources included the following: - REGOS's database systems maintained by FINA agency, - Web based reporting system for affiliates and it’s authentication system - PDF document creation system previously used for paper-based document issuing process. Outsourcing partners Ultima, APIS and FINA utilized their software development and testing environments for the implementation of necessary software components.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Equal availability - electronic document request can be submitted from home or any other location with Internet access. If the user has no Internet access, it is still possible to use old, paper-based forms. Efficiency - requests are processed 24/7. Electronic document is available for download seconds after the request has been filed. Confidentiality and security - encryption protocol commonly used on the Internet secures the communication between user and the service. User authentication is performed over a standardized protocol, used by several e-government services in Croatia. It is important to note that users need to authenticate themselves when requesting an electronic document due to personal data protection requirements. After their identity is confirmed, the request can be filed. Once the document is generated, its unique access identifier is created, together with protection code. These two pieces of information are then sent via e-mail and/or SMS to an e-mail address or mobile phone number provided on the request form. Any person with this information can download a specific document. This mechanism enables citizens to forward document access data to their bank clerk or any other person they wish to share the document with. Fraud prevention - use of digital signature enables document authenticity validation. Any subsequent document change invalidates the signature. Signature validation is performed by document viewing software (i.e. PDF viewer). If the document has been tampered with, this fact becomes clearly displayed. Rationalization - there are no more fees involved with the document issuing process, so this service became completely free for all users. REGOS also cut expenses because physical document handling was reduced to a minimum.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Identification of critical document delivery components, permanent monitoring and timely response are major factors contributing to system sustainability. Computing infrastructure and system's major software components are monitored 24/7. IT support team is notified within minutes of any detected anomaly. Project administrators can generate statistical reports for any given time period. Reports contain the following information: - total number of document requests, - total number of document downloads, - breakdown by document type. Statistical reports are generated and analyzed on regular basis, showing any emerging trends. Management decisions regarding electronic document delivery service are backed by this usage data. Members of business sector (documents' end users) are also frequently contacted by REGOS. Any identified issues are discussed and the findings are fed back to the document delivery system design team. Service has to be able to adapt to new requirements over time. This is particularly important when legislation introduces new document type. Apart from just technically enabling its download, communicating any related business changes to all the end users is also important. REGOS maintains a call center for citizens. Most questions can be answered and issues resolved at this level. However, complex issues and those that keep reappearing are forwarded to a higher support level. For example, if it becomes evident that a certain system feature is frequently misunderstood, design team will review it and try to come up with an improved version.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Obstacles encountered can be classified within three categories: - percentage of population using the Internet and their general level of technical knowledge, - insufficient or ambiguous legal framework, - acceptance of a digitally signed electronic document as a secure, accurate and traceable source of information by the requesting end users (financial institutions). According to Eurostat's 2013 Internet use statistics, 67% of Croatian population uses Internet at least once in three months - a moderate result, below the European Union average of 75%. Next major technical obstacle is a user authentication. Citizens have to register a unique, password protected, username, which is then tied to their national identification number. This implies one-time visit to a service desk (located in every town), presenting their identity card and filling the form. Most questions received through REGOS's call center are related to this issue - citizens are not sure where the registration should be done and what to do next. Technical support for citizens was mainly done through Call Centre which was supported by additional staff during first months of project implementation. Croatian laws do regulate use of digital signatures. However, use of a specific type of digital signature involved in an automated process used for electronic document delivery was somewhat ambiguous, especially because this was its first major implementation. The issue was successfully resolved. REGOS has presented to financial institutions all the benefits of this project, and they had agreed to adjust their internal processes and accept electronic documents. Information campaign lasted for two months. It was short but very successful, thanks to the involvement of professional associations - Croatian Banking Association, Croatian Chamber of Economy and Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts. They helped inform all of their relevant members and their involvement greatly contributed to the initiative's success.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
This was a first public administration project in Croatia which enabled free, simple and immediate access to its output documents for all the users. The initiative saved both time and money and displayed a positive example of service flexibility and transparency. It proved that public services can be made readily available at any time to any citizen. A major step forward was achieved, creating positive attitude toward e-government services and easing the adoption of new services that followed (government's e-Citizens project, June 2014). The project received positive media attention and the public displayed permanent and sustained interest growth. Number of electronic document requests was regularly monitored. The analysis showed usage increase from about 2,000 document downloads per month when the project started, to about 8,000 today. During the period of little over 1.5 years, more than 18,000 citizens accessed the system. There were 123,000 downloads of about 80,000 unique electronic documents (single document can be downloaded several times). Significant savings were achieved, both by the public and REGOS itself. Since there are no more fees involved, citizens saved over $520,000. Electronic document delivery implementation benefits citizens in multiple ways: - Overall information technology literacy is raised because of the online-based process. This further benefits any subsequent e-government services adoption. - Both time and money are saved. - Sadly, there are still some employers who do not fulfil all of their financial obligations, directly violating their employees' rights. Using online document system, employees can control whether their employers' obligations related to legally required pay-related social contributions were fulfilled. - There is an improved understanding of the public administration and its processes. Service quality was measured using several methods: - number and trend of document requests is monitored on weekly basis, - end-user support is established both via e-mail and call centre, - public is kept informed through media, REGOS's web page and e-mail newsletter, - survey regarding electronic document delivery satisfaction was conducted online. Online survey was posted on REGOS's web page and also publicized via e-mail newsletter. There were 2,606 responses. Of those who responded, 24% used the electronic document delivery service. 49% scored it 5/5 and 36% gave a score of 4/5. Time and money saving together with almost immediate document delivery were identified as the top ranking positive aspects of the new service. REGOS continually improved the system, which resulted in "Personal Mailbox" implementation on July 29, 2013. The mailbox enabled delivery of several types of messages and notices, sent by REGOS to its affiliates which REGOS is obliged to make available to affiliates. User authentication service is streamlined, so both the Mailbox application and the electronic document delivery system use the same user log in mechanism. REGOS became a leader of e-government service implementation. Mailbox concept was later implemented as a part of government's e-Citizens project a year later. By implementing these services, REGOS actively prepared itself and public for a wider e-government initiative, e-Citizens, set forth in 2013 by the Government of the Republic of Croatia. Goal of e-Citizens initiative was to provide citizens with streamlined access to government and public service related news, provide public service related information and enable simplified e-government service access. e-Citizens project was put into productions on June 10, 2014. Innovations implemented by REGOS most certainly helped shape positive attitude toward e-government service adoption.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Electronic document delivery service is completely sustainable. It developed into a mission critical system for REGOS, citizens and many financial institutions alike. Any service disruption would significantly disrupt normal business flow of many commercial entities in Croatia. Because of this, system is run on highly available computing infrastructure and monitored 24/7. Procedures are put in place for support teams to address any operational anomaly within minutes. Its simple, modular and flexible basic design enables other institutions and public service segments to apply its design principles and proven, real-world tested usage scenarios. Even REGOS's own service can be used as a communication channel for other institutions and their electronic document delivery. All new entities implementing similar service can use REGOS's experience, acquired through the implementation of this initiative. Project integrated four major information technology systems, each designed and operated by different company/agency. User authentication is one of most critical system components. It was elegantly implemented using open standard, achieving high level of confidentiality and personal data protection. Public facing interface of this service demonstrated simplicity for the end users, regardless of the complex information systems underpinning the document generating process. Several segments were specifically addressed as to implement a sustainable initiative: Financial - free use raises public awareness that public services exist for citizens' benefit, not as a commercial product sold for a price. REGOS also made internal savings - data delivery in electronic form is always cheaper than logistics involved with the same data delivered on a physical medium. Open source software components used for system implementation have no license fees. Also, open source ensures REGOS will never be locked to a single software vendor. Social and cultural - e-government services establish an effective two-way communication channel between government and both citizens and businesses. Usage and understanding of online interactions promotes computer literacy within a population, which is a process generally beneficial both socially and economically. Legal - technological progress and a high degree of technology adoption within a population enables implementation of e-government services, such as the one described. Usually, this process does not fit within the established legal framework so it is imperative to adjust and improve the legal framework in order to enable simpler access and effective two-way communication between public services and citizens. Electronic document delivery service was a positive example of an effective communication between public sector and the citizens. Several other institutions in Croatia implemented services based on the same or very similar principles - Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (Electronic Records) and the Ministry of Public Administration (birth certificate, marriage certificate and the certificate of citizenship were made available for download as digitally signed electronic documents). REGOS and all partners involved in development of this project are ready to share their knowledge and experience with any interested party, regardless of their status or location.

 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)
With reliable process analysis, financial justification, political support and staff enthusiasm, public service can implement modern communication techniques in a flexible manner. This way its internal processes can become more transparent and properly aligned with citizens' needs. Implementing technology-related process change which affects multiple stakeholder groups requires clear and unambiguous communication between an institution initiating a change and other stakeholders. Scope and effects of the change should be publicized well before the launch date. This is especially relevant if the change has far-reaching consequences. Feedback should be collected during the design phase. Every issue should be carefully analyzed and properly addressed. Depending on the nature of the change involved, sometimes information needs to be disseminated over several levels of entity's organizational hierarchy. Sometimes this process is not executed correctly so clerks, who can become most important factor in the process, are not properly informed. When this happens, there should be a procedure in place to inform them of the proper proceeding.. First several weeks of service use are critical. During this phase, the initiative should be actively publicized using any channel available - traditional media, social networks, blogs... When a new, simple process, designed to replace the old one, is properly advertised, it will certainly gain positive momentum. It is critical that performance monitoring is put in place during this delicate phase. Any reported defects should be handled effectively in a timely manner. Usage of open standards has great benefits. This gives all the involved parties greater freedom when choosing an implementation of certain required hardware or software component and raises project's chance of success. User facing part of the e-government service should be as simple as possible, ideally supporting all the commercial off-the-shelf devices. This too increases project's adoption rate. Open source components used for project's software implementation greatly reduce costs while providing flexible and reliable platform at the same time. Success of this initiative was a result of cooperation between public administration and the business sector in order to satisfy citizen's needs. Financial and other institutions from business sector require certain documents generated within REGOS's domain to provide services for citizens. REGOS, on the other hand, addressed business sector's needs and remarks. This way a free, simple, effective and first of its kind service could be implemented, fulfilling the needs of all the involved entities. This can serve as a positive example of public service improvement aimed at efficient handling of citizens' needs.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Središnji registar osiguranika
Institution Type:   Public Agency  
Contact Person:   Nada Merkaš
Title:   Mrs  
Telephone/ Fax:   +385-1-4898911/+385-1-4898903
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   nada.merkas@regos.hr  
Address:   Gajeva 5
Postal Code:   10000
City:   Zagreb
State/Province:  
Country:  

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