In this post we will briefly review the evolution of electronic management applied to proceedings and processes in Uruguay, starting from the implantation of the first electronic file systems, up to now. We are working on the publication of paperwork online, to provide citizens with management, achieve major efficiency, transparency, and foster social inclusion
The pivotal technological factor to kick off electronic management and turn paper into digital format was the creation of digital certificates, based on X.509 standard. Later, with digital certificates, plus HASH algorithms (fingerprint) and asymmetric encryption, it was created the digital signature, which is as valid as holographic signature (traditional handwritten signature), as of Law 65/98.
That year we started working on electronic file systems, which are the result of the combination of two components:
a) documents electronically signed and linked to a file
b) workflows defined to guide users on the conduction of file proceedings. Eventually, management assessment would be performed to adjust these business processes and resources, among others.
The first implementation of an electronic file system, in the public domain in Uruguay, we have heard of, was in the National Civil Service Office (ONSC), in January 1999, where the national power provider company, UTE, implanted Gex500 system. From then on, other electronic file systems were implanted in state companies, which migrated from client-server technology to Web applications. This technological evolution allowed access to these systems from a browser, avoiding the installation of a program in each computer, which made them more affordable.
AGESIC (Agency for the Development of Electronic Management Governance and Information and Knowledge Association) was created in 2005, with the mission of: ““Leading the strategy of Electronic Governance implementation in the country, to set the basis of a more efficient State, citizen centered, and fostering the Information and Knowledge Association as a new citizenship, encouraging inclusion and empowerment by making adequate use of information and communication technologies.”
This was a milestone for the country. Since then, political, and technological strategies have been defined, so much so, that in the digital agenda for 2008-2010 the goal was the installation of electronic file systems in the central administration. To this end, AGESIC chose tool APIA Documentum, and encouraged its implementation in government offices and agencies.
At this point the Uruguayan State had policies and tools to carry out the electronic management of proceedings inside organizations, but still lacked the definition of a national root digital certificate. AGESIC was acknowledged as the national root certifying authority according to Law 18.600 of September 2009. This step was extremely important for the recognition of the signature nationwide. This law also defines the concept of advanced electronic signature.
Progress was been made in terms of the conduction of electronic proceedings inside organizations. But, what about ordinary citizens, and companies? They still had to go from one office to another to start proceedings or to pick up papers which they had to file at other public offices. In response to this situation, several public agencies and offices began their own projects to provide their users with the possibility of doing their paperwork fully online, or at least, reducing the need to attend.
The fact that proceedings are posted online, as an additional customer attention channel, has led to the generation of technological tools and management models as follows:
- Users have access to all the proceedings and can initiate them online (as they are being implemented) at the State's Proceedings Portal.
- Front-Office tools were developed based on the online proceedings´ model defined by AGESIC, so that all proceedings are initiated and managed similarly, making technology friendly for users.
- Users have a single identification (user name and password) to initiate all proceedings requiring authentication, regardless the office or agency. Moreover, it is possible to use the chip integrated in the new identity card instead of entering a user name and password.
- In addition, the new identity card has a digital certificate derived from the national root certificate which allows users to apply the electronic signature to the generated documents.
- Users can know where their proceedings are and have a single traceability tool for all state proceedings.
- Electronic payment gateways have been integrated, so that users do not have to go anywhere to make the corresponding payments.
As it can be observed, electronic filing has followed a long way. As noted in 2020 Digital Agenda, the progress made has been the result of the joint efforts made by the public and private sectors, academia, organized civil society and the technical community. It has been a significant contribution to become members of D7 (Digital 7) group, which recognizes Uruguay as one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world. Quanam has been part of the way all along.
In following posts, we will deal with the benefits obtained such as social Inclusion, transparency, and accessibility.