| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Electronic Application System (EAS) was implanted gradually. Development began in 2007, but the first applications fulfilled by users, was received in 2008.
The first system specifications were developed in 2007, this year programming work started. For the system to be easy to use for the clients of Rural Support Service (RSS) and ensure the users would not require additional resources to work with this system, it was decided to build a web-based. Thereby, the system users for its use was required only computer with a browser and Internet connection (https://eps.lad.gov.lv/login).
RSS Electronic Application System was recognized as high quality and innovative on national level – that was the main precondition to include services of the other state institutions in the system. All e-applications regarding agricultural sector are now in one portal.
Electronic application system implementation process from 2008 to 2014: 35 applications for ~ 70 aid schemes
Year of implementation System module Number of aid measures
2008 Client information 0
2008 EAS user information 0
2008 Area payment application 22
2009 Payments 0
2009 Documents 0
2010 Field borders clarification 1
2010 Diesel fuel for farmers 1
2010 Investment applications 1
2011 Sustainability criteria application 1
2012 Support for breeding 39
2012 Preservation of genetic resources of farm animals 1
2012 School fruits and vegetables 1
2012 School milk 1
2013 Support for insurance policy 1
2013 (State Plant Protection Service) 1
2013 Agricultural Data Centre e- application 0
2013 State Technical Supervision Agency e- application 0
2014 Subsidized electricity tax 0
2014 Seasonal farmer module 1
2014 Reports on fishing licenses 0
2014 Fertilizers plan summary (service of State Plant Protection Service) 0
2014 The agrochemical soil research (service of State Plant Protection Service) 0
2014 Document registration module 0
The users of EAS can authorize into the system using unique username and password, with E-signature and Bank authorisation (https://eps.lad.gov.lv/login).
Now in EAS are available more than 30 e - application forms, additional services (payments, documents, csv files, shp files, client and user information's) are introduced, there are additional guides how to use e-applications (guidebooks, video).
In futures Rural Support Service of Latvia plans to improve the usability and design, the mobile application now are in development process as well as increase the number of e-applications in the system.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Project initiative came from the Rural Support Service (RSS), which is responsible for administration of various support measures for agriculture, rural areas, fisheries and forestry in Latvia. Electronic application system development was developed by “Tieto Latvia” Ltd., which won this right in an open tender procedure.
The first versions of the system was developed in cooperation only by RSS and “Tieto Latvia” Ltd. In the process of system development and taking into account increase of the number of users, new services were integrated in the system. RSS take into account the ideas if the clients – users of system about necessary improvements in the system as well discuss them with the public organizations of farmers - Farmers Federation, Agricultural Organizations Cooperation Council, etc. Non-governmental organizations have also submitted ideas for the improvement of the system and ways how to improve usability. For example, they were involved in EAS geographic information usability testing to make this section most convenient and easy to use.
One of the latest system module "Seasonal farmer module" development initiative came directly from public organizations with the implementation of this module was reached that:
• decreased administrative burden for farmers, fishermen and rural entrepreneurs ;
• many rural residents moved from economic "shadow" sector to the legal income and got the opportunity to obtain a minimum social guarantees basket.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Total Electronic Application System development during the period from 2007 to 2014 (inclusive) were consumed more than 1300 system developers man-days in total monetary value of more than 500 000 EUR (including Geographic Information Component, which provides essential system modules activity) .
In the system development participated RSS workers, who defined the requirements and tested the system and “Tieto Latvia” Ltd., who were the developers.
Also, a lot of work system ideas and specifications defining invested Rural Support Service, which is responsible for various support measures for agriculture, rural areas and fisheries administration in Latvia.
Electronic Application System development was financed from the Latvian state budget and the European Union EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development) technical assistance funds.
Funding for Electronic Application System development was requested by the Rural Support Service. Throughout the course of the project was supervised by the state.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The success of Electronic Application System (EAS) was due to several specific benefits that could be obtained through the farmers, rural communities and other groups:
• One of the key parameters required, which is indicative and important to prove the success of the project is the growth of the number of users. Since there was (and still exists) services, which can apply for using the system and submit on the paper, the EAS growth in the number of users very well point to its success (1064 users of the system in year 2008 to more than 21 500 users of the system in year 2014);
• The latest system module "Seasonal farmer module" implementations positive outcome result was reduce the shadow economy in the seasonal agricultural workforce, it give make a direct impact on the economic performance of Latvia. This indicator will also be evaluated again in the future in Latvian government;
• EAS module “School fruits and vegetables” (780 schools) and “School milk” (917 schools) success rate is also number how many schools are using this module and how many children receive healthy food under the program. The data shows that more than 90% of all schools in Latvia use module ;
• Very serious demand of the results was for EAS module "Diesel fuel for farmers," because according to the Latvian government's conditions, diesel fuel on preferential terms to farmers may be marketed only through records in the module. This means that only the successful implementation of this module could provide relief to the farmers in the purchase of diesel fuel.
• Rural Support Service (RSS) received state prize as the best e-service provided by state institution. The RSS client satisfaction surveys every year show increasing number of clients using EAS and positive evaluation of the system.
These are all indicators point to a successful implementation and development of the system and are a good platform for future opportunities for expansion of the system.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Rural Support Service (RSS) introduced Electronic Application System (EAS) project as part of RSS Information System development. Project management including monitoring was organized with the following approaches: setting regular work priorities, transfer of system modules tests, processing of applications from the clients, identification of change requests occurred in project management workgroup, which was organized at least once a week.
On current issues affecting the clients, they were informed in the RSS and non-governmental organizations meetings. In these meetings RSS also informed the farmers' organizations for new opportunities in EAS and also heard the views of the organizations of the project development process and proposals for EAS performance improvement.
In turn, the entire project oversight, escalate issues solving, reporting, change requests coordination was held in the project board meetings, which was organized at least once a month. Project board meeting was scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month, but was able to also agree on other date. Reports on the progress of the project was prepared by the project managers and sent on the day before the board meeting.
In process of developing EAS functionality list, it was created from User Stories, which is a small system usage scenario from the point of view of particular user roles. User Story described one particular system usage scenario from the perspective of a single user role. User Stories were used as a planning unit in the planning process.
In this process, the RSS also involved non-governmental organizations to find out their views on what the system would need to make it the most user-friendly for farmers, rural communities and other population groups and categories of the clients, which uses this system.
Of course, one of the key moments of the surveillance was very simple – did EAS users within the deadlines have the opportunity to use the new system functionality or to use enhancements of the existing functionality?
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Electronic Application System (EAS) development initially took place in the period (2008 to 2009), when the whole world was affected by the economic crisis. Consequently, in Latvia measures were taken to reduce costs. However, the EAS development funds were allocated and the work continued.
We can also mention some of the problems encountered in the development and implementation of the project:
• Level of internet access in the Latvian countryside, in 2008 - 2011 was quite low, and thereby the system could not be used by all who wished to do so. From 2011 the Latvian internet service providers began to rapidly develop internet coverage. Appeared new broadband mobile internet opportunities for 3G and from 2013 is rapidly developed the latest generation of 4G coverage. The availability of internet has enabled the faster growing number of EAS users;
• The second problem was related to EAS Geographic Information System (GIS) section which was initially difficult and difficult for users to learn. Gradually, this section was improved. In this process was an also involved system users representatives from farmers organizations, who tested the GIS and gave their views. The result of the work was maximally simple user-friendly opportunity to draw maps in EAS without special prior knowledge and skills. In process of complementing the system was designed opportunity for copying the previous year’s applications and make adjustments in them, which contributed to the EAS usability and user-friendliness.
• There was also a problem that many rural inhabitants because of their weak knowledge of information technologies were afraid to use the system. The problem was solved by creating "Consultant module" that allows customers authorized persons to submit applications on behalf of clients. As well as Rural Support Service introduced Demo version of the system.