Main/General recommendations

This section consists of a summary of the commonalities across sectors. It highlights the main recommendations for the provision and uptake of open eGovernment services to enhance accountability, transparency and trust.

User-centered design

Awareness of user expectations when dealing with the public sector through eGovernment services may facilitate the interaction between public administrations and users. Open eGovernment services should be developed around how users can, want, or need to use those services, rather than forcing people to use a service that does not meet their expectations.

Articulating these expectations requires service designers not only to analyse and envision the way the service will be used by citizens and businesses, but also to validate their assumptions. It is also important that once services have been developed, users continue to contribute to their improvement. This requires training of developers in emerging user-centered design methodologies and tools. Methodologies for co-creation can also support this action and eParticipation can be used as a means to assess existing services, to learn of citizens and businesses’ needs and to co-create new solutions.

Finally, these processes should consider different groups within society, e.g., migrants, elderly, people with disabilities and computer illiterate.

See also

Stimulating the creation, delivery and use of new services

Universal accessibility of services

Universal accessibility is a fundamental requirement for the success of any open eGovernment. In contrast to the private sector, which can be excluding by reaching only target market segments, public administrations should design open eGovernment services that are inclusive by default and cater to the needs of everyone. However, accessibility options are often few and ill-locatable on open eGovernment services.

Considerations for universal accessibility of services are related to alternatives for audio content, such as transcripts and captions or sign language; page structure and content, which need to be properly coded so that they can cater to text-to-speech synthesis or audio descriptions; and textual content that follows Easy-to-Read guidelines. Although there are international guidelines such as WCAG 2.0 for the design of accessible websites, it is generally agreed that they do not cater to people with cognitive difficulties so greater effort should be applied in this respect. The W3C Accessibility Guidelines Working Group is working on requirements for a WCAG 3.0 version that should widen the spectrum of the 2.0 version.

The Web Accessibility Directive, which regulates accessibility of public sector websites and mobile applications in the EU, will reduce uncertainty for developers and foster interoperability. Member States are expected to comply with this directive by September 2018.

The European Accessibility Act, currently under discussion by the EU co-legislators, is expected to make sure that both public and private sectors follow accessibility requirements when designing their products and services.

More personalised public services

Ubiquitous services (computers, mobiles, tablets)

In general, only one third of public sector websites in the EU are mobile-friendly. Specifically, there is a lack of mobile apps for eGovernment services.

As mobiles are fast becoming the main device through which people access the internet, it is imperative that more services are provided through mobile friendly websites or apps that would open access to a greater number of citizens and businesses.

Moreover, public administrations should be up to date on new developments of devices and eGovernment services should be responsive.

Stimulating the creation, delivery and use of new services

Meeting the once-only principle

The once-only principle states that a user should not have to supply the same information more than once to public administrations. Open eGovernment services should offer this option to users whenever possible. However, people should not be forced to apply it.

Interoperability and identification play a very important role in meeting his principle; that is why the European Interoperability Framework (EIF), and the eIDAS directive are recommended here. The use of open source software, open standards and open APIs will result in more open and scalable ICT systems for public service delivery. This will pave the way for the integration of systems and the implementation of the once-only principle for citizens and businesses.

An interesting approach, which is also relevant for people's access to their own data, is to provide a personal-data repository that applications can access when necessary, instead of having applications exchanging personal data.

Stimulating the creation, delivery and use of new services

Service personalization

Personalisation is a way to improve user satisfaction by tailoring a service to specific individuals or segments of individuals' needs. Open eGovernment services should be customisable and adapt to the user or group of users' profile. Besides, services should be proactive, and notify or prompt a person to use them according to circumstances like age or health-related parameters.

More personalised public services

Services in multiple languages

A great majority of eGovernment websites in the EU are available only in the native language or in the native language and English; the English version often only provides information and not all the eGovernment services that are provided in the native language.

Language support should include not only the translation of website content but also the translation of forms and documents. This is under-developed and it is hindering access to services by non-native speakers.

Reducing administrative burden of citizens and businesses

Cross-border services

Cross-border provision of services is based on the freedom of movement, so that nationals of a EU Member State are able to pursue their activities as citizens or businesses in another EU Member State.

This goal is included, among others, in the Single Digital Gateway proposal, the interconnection of all Member States' business registers, the electronic interconnection of insolvency registers, the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information, and the exchange of electronic evidence between judicial authorities.

Reducing administrative burden of citizens and businesses

People’s access to their own data

Allowing people to "own", use and amend their data could go a long way to make them more invested in the services they use and more trusting of government. Additionally, it would cut down on information queries by governments and allow for faster resolution times. According to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), people have the right to obtain confirmation as to whether personal data concerning them is being processed, where and for what purpose. Yet only 55% of the EU Member States make this access possible for citizens.

It is important to understand how people think about their data in relation to public services and how they would like to interact with them. Also, people should know if their data are linked to data from other services. Research to comprehend how citizen- controlled data are understood and accepted in government is also vital to drive this trend forward.

This recommendation is especially relevant for the once-only principle. Control on one’s own data should go beyond all or nothing; people should be able to decide what data can be shared and with whom..

Increased transparency of and trust in public administration

Openness of data and services

Public administration’s open data that is machine-readable and that is capable of being shared and distributed, allows the development of solutions that cater to the increasing demand for transparency, accountability, and responsiveness.

Data and algorithms transparency is essential for digital trust and appropriation of emerging technologies. An important shift deals with control of the data used and the intelligibility of algorithms.

Openness of data implies the use of standards for data management, digital services and metadata, as well as shared concepts and terms (when available). Openness of services implies the use of open source software where there is no risk of vendor lock-in and code may be reviewed and maintained by the parties involved in the development of solutions.

The availability of open data together with open service components, will enable the development of new solutions by third parties and the public administration itself, and will foster reuse by small local governments that lack resources for the development of services.

See also

Increased transparency of and trust in public administration

eDemocracy services

eDemocracy enhances citizen and businesses engagement and participation in government decision making processes such as policy making, budgeting and service delivery. It is fundamental for user adoption and for building trust towards the public sector.

In general, eDemocracy and eParticipation are not offered as services on eGovernment websites in the EU. Public authorities should take into account a number of success factors for eParticipation projects, including strong government support (with a commitment to act on input received); a user-friendly interface; the use of different channels of communication (offline as well as online); appropriate security and privacy provisions (ranging from anonymous responses to fully identified participants); and a political issue that can be addressed in a way understandable by non-experts. Tools should include features such as web forums, discussion spaces and social media interaction, and make sure that the input is transparently processed.

See also

Increased transparency of and trust in public administration

eProcurement services

Providing eProcurement, eTender and eInvoicing services is very important to level the playing field and ease access to the information for all businesses, and thus develop the potential for bidding for public contracts procurement opportunities and tenders.

The transition of European Member States towards full eProcurement and use of contract registers is necessary. The focus should be on setting up eProcurement and eTender websites that are easily accessible for businesses of all sizes. Besides, open data on eProcurement guarantees transparency in the management of public funds. As with other eGovernment services, a user focused approach would be necessary to gauge both the interest and the usefulness of such websites and how they can be designed to ensure maximum take-up by businesses.

See also

Reducing administrative burden of citizens and businesses