New Bulgarian State e-Government Agency commences work according to national strategy based on once-only principle

With an ambitious statement titled “Citizens still trapped to act as “messengers in captivity” between various administrations” the recently established State e-Government Agency (EGSA) of Bulgaria inaugurated its website on 14 February 2017. As Rosen Zhelyazkov, since September 2016 director of the new Agency, pointed out, the Agency will focus on implementing the national strategy “Elaborating e-Government in Bulgaria until 2021” adopted by Parliament on 16 June 2016.

The State e-Government Agency is responsible for implementing e-governance projects as well as coordinating national policies with the EU acquis and international best-practices, but also for capacity building in the area of cybersecurity through a Computer Emergency Support Team (CERT) under its supervision. In 2016, Bulgaria also launched its first unified e-government offering – the Government Services and Information Portal (EGOV.BG) – in an effort to speed up deployment of e-services and profit from the considerable benefits for citizens and business alike.

During a presentation of the national strategy on e-government until 2021 to civil society and businesses, Mr Zhelyazkov remarked on the necessity of introducing and closely adhering to the once-only principle (OOP) as part of the planned reshaping of Bulgaria’s e-service landscape:

In the recent years, despite the investments made, the citizens are still forced to act as “messengers in captivity” among various administrations. Over 60 percent of the electronic services used in Bulgaria are related to issuing various certificates. The “end-users” of those services, however, are neither the citizens, nor the business, but rather the various administrations themselves.

In its official statement, the EGSA outlines the current state of e-government in Bulgaria, which is falling short of providing e-services in accordance with the OOP:

Still the main challenges related to the introduction of e-Government in Bulgaria are the huge number of “services” and regulatory regimes the citizens and business face; the lack of liaison among the administrations; the multiple data collection processes, such data not being exchanged and used by the respective administration structures; the information and communication infrastructure and data are dispersed in over 2200 locations and server rooms, while less than 20% of them comply with the technical maintenance requirements.

Finally, by explicitly mentioning shortfalls of the past, Mr Zhelyazkov clearly maps out one of the main goals of the EGSA under his chairmanship, in pointing to the much-needed transformation of certification services provided by the Bulgarian public administration into internal processes, thus relieving citizens and businesses of having to go between different public administrations as “messengers in captivity”:

“The implementation of the principle of one-off data collection and multiple use of data has been envisaged in the Electronic Governance Act as early as 2008, but has never been complied with, because the administrations do not have the necessary tools to meet this requirements in reality.”

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