Marc Le Noir has over 20 years public sector industry experience with a particular focus on business transformation, IT strategy & governance and IT-outsourcing. Currently he is matching IBM’s business solutions to the needs of our public sector clients.
In the previous posts of The new relationship Citizen – Government series, we touched upon why it is important for governments to be open, how they can empower their citizens and what the benefits are for being mobile. Now we will take a look at specific examples of governments that understood the need for digitization and then took action in the dialogue with their citizens.
Belgium is one country that has already taken some important steps in the transformation of the public services from reactive to proactive. The tax-on-web service is one of the very first platforms that has been available online, since early 2003. The application allows taxpayers to calculate the amount of their income tax, validate and save their data online, submit their returns electronically and get a receipt from the Tax Administration. Furthermore, users can find details of their outstanding tax liabilities, backtrack over their past tax history, build up a preference list, and keep an eye on the progress of their tax return, as processed.
The Federal Public Service Finance has also made available an online help system that assists citizens through the different steps of the process. The new way of dealing with public obligations has not only eased the job of public workers, but has also created a more time and money saving solution.
In order to use the tax-on-web application, and actually to complete all the obligations a citizen has, all one needs is the electronic identity card – which comes along with a card reader – or a federal token that is issued by the local city hall. This way, the citizens can avoid the long queue at the Tax office, as well as the mistakes that one could do when filling in the forms. Moreover, the requests submitted online are the first ones to be processed. Therefore, anyone who uses the online app for filling their obligations will get an answer faster.
The tax-on-web application not only empowers the Belgian government with a very great tool to make macro-economic predictions, but also the data that is gained in the process can be used in tailoring the tax legislation to the budgetary reality.
However, Belgium is not the only successful example. There are many more cases of cities, states and federal governments that have made their public services available online or on mobile. Examples include Utah in the United States, UK, Canada, and Singapore. This is only a start as in the next two articles we will see in-depth how a government can actually build up a new relationship with its citizens by adding technology in the process.
*The new relationship Citizen – Government is full series of 8 articles and studies about how the new era of technology changes is perceived and embraced by the public authorities and which are the new challenges encountered when trying to keep or build a relationship with the modern citizen or when trying to ensure them with security.