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How changes in the law are affecting technology development in the public administration

Changes in the law are one of the drivers of technology. In the public administration, especially in times of the pandemic, they are often the result of current decisions and the response to social and economic needs. They have a direct impact on the development of digital services and are an excuse to create new solutions that simplify and speed up processes, qualitatively change people's work and improve customer service. Arkadiusz Wójcik, Director of the Social Insurance Department at Asseco Poland, talks about the impact of the law on the development of technology and how advanced IT changes the quality of the public administration based on the example of cooperation with the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS).

Paperless in the public administration

Eliminating paper procedures is one of the biggest challenges in the area of digitization of the public administration. Moving away from paper in favor of digital solutions has measurable benefits for public institutions, but above all for the end customer - the citizen. The implementation of such solutions speeds up various processes, minimizes the risk of errors made by the customer and makes it easier to go through the entire administrative procedure. Customers filling out a paper form on their own often do not know what to enter in particular fields or enter incorrect data. The introduction of an electronic form, which is interactive and prompts specific answers, makes the completion of formalities in the form of application easier and faster. Paperless brings benefits also for the institution itself. It ensures measurable financial savings - the more digital processes, the greater the scale of savings, which can reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of zlotys a year. This is the effect of reducing or even eliminating the costs of paper document circulation.

In April last year we faced a major challenge related to the IT support of anti-crisis shields. We are a company that quickly adapts to the changes expected by the market, and thanks to advanced IT we were able to perform all the tasks set by ZUS. We adapt our solutions to current legal regulations. Dynamism has always been an important value of our actions. Thanks to such an approach we have been able to implement even the most complex IT projects for 30 years.

Process automation

The implementation of new technologies determined by changes in the law is also associated with the automation of processes. And it is not about robotization, i.e., the performance by a computer of exactly the same activities that a human would perform. By eliminating (or significantly reducing) human participation in business processes, they can be thoroughly rebuilt, simplified and accelerated.

Last April, ZUS was given a great deal of new responsibilities related to the implementation of the shield. At the same time, it was not released from the ongoing work it had been doing up to that point. It also had to perform additional tasks with the same team, in difficult conditions of remote work and often with limited access to resources. An important task was therefore to automate the new processes so that the tasks could be carried out with as little human involvement as possible. Up until that moment, this kind of work related to handling applications had been largely performed by humans. Each paper application had passed through the hands of a ZUS employee and had had to be electronically processed by them, i.e. entered into the system, verified and serviced. On this basis, within 30 days from submitting the application, a decision had been made. However, the use of tailor-made IT solutions made it possible to automate the entire process - from the moment of filling out the application by the customer to issuing the decision by ZUS. As a result, up to 90 percent of all applications have been processed automatically since then.   

Creating new value

In Poland we have a lot of different sets of citizen data. The largest databases include data collected in the ZUS or PESEL database. Often information from different places is needed to make a decision on a particular issue. Data integration allows to streamline service processes, create new value in the form of new products or services, and accelerate administrative decision-making processes. In order to make it possible, the pre-condition are legal changes, which influence the development of technology and determine the introduction of new services. An example can be the service of the Polish Development Fund (PFR) shield. In order to implement it, it was necessary to integrate data between various state institutions. The decision to grant financing was made by PFR on the basis of, among others, information about an entrepreneur - whether he or she is not indebted to ZUS and the tax office. IT enabled quick and efficient handling of the Act, especially at a time when time was of the essence. The integration of PFR with the ZUS system, among others, made it possible to speed up the process of making decisions on granting financial assistance. The institutions were able to exchange data in a virtually unattended manner.

Another example of a legal change leading to the development of technology is the implementation of the Polish Tourism Voucher project. In this case, it was necessary to use data from the offices of municipalities that operate the 500+ program. People who were entitled to this benefit could also take advantage of the travel voucher. We managed to create a kind of payment system, the equivalent of a payment card with a due amount, which can be "paid" for selected tourist services. With such a solution, the employee of a hotel or other tourist facility logs into the ZUS system, and the holder of the travel voucher receives a special code via SMS, which can be then entered in order to use the voucher to pay for the stay or other tourist service. In this way, a complex payment system was created, a proven mechanism which can be used to create a multitude of services for citizens. It is also a modern form of the state-citizen settlement system, which can be used for other new services.

With such advanced IT solutions, the public administration can conduct citizen-centric activities and provide services and maintenance of a standard similar to those provided by commercial entities.