In a blog about our report, “Wait no more: Citizens, red tape and digital government”, we wrote about carrying out government transactions in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Whether you’re applying for child benefit or renewing your vehicle tax, for example, the process is often slow, bureaucratic and frustrating.
We all want transactions with government to be easy, friendly and practical, but how can governments in LAC achieve this? Here’s our message to them:
Analyse the citizen experience
How can you improve transactions without first knowing what the problems are? Use administrative data, surveys, and direct observation and other sources to acquire objective, precise and timely information. Incorporate this information into iterative cycles of evaluation, adaptation and implementation. This means you can constantly refine and enhance your interaction with citizens.
Cut out unnecessary transactions
Some transactions are essential, others are superfluous. Eliminate them through regulatory reform or by cutting red tape and duplication. Exchange data between government agencies, don’t make citizens do it for you. Be proactive – reach out to citizens, not the other way round.
Redesign from the citizen’s point of view
Government services are meant to serve citizens and should be designed with that in mind – protection against fraud is not the only goal. Design systems so people can go to one place online to access government services. And don’t make them enter information more than once – information submitted to one institution should be readily available to others.
Improve access to digital transactions
Moving transactions online means more than just creating websites. We believe there are five crucial steps:
a. Lay the foundations for online transactions – this includes interoperability platforms, digital signature and identity, and electronic notifications and payments
b. Make online access easy for users who have different levels of digital capacity
c. Expand digital literacy programmes
d. Ensure that transactions work from any device, including mobile telephones
e. Provide payment methods that do not require a bank account.
Invest in better face-to-face interaction
Although many countries have made big strides in digital government, LAC continues to be a mainly analogue region where around 90% of government transactions are carried out in person. Thus it’s vital to improve face-to-face interactions, which many people still prefer. Invest in staff training and recruitment, and bring together services from different entities under one roof.
And that’s how you can cut red tape: understand our needs as citizens and respond to them – in person and online.
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