MyInfo – Citizens’ Electronic Profile for Online Transactions
This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)
MyInfo allows Singapore citizens to provide personal data, only once (if not already made available), instead of doing so for every government digital service. It aims to increase convenience and save time in digital transactions, while reducing cost by reducing hardcopy document verification.
Personal data is one of the most widely-used datasets in the Singapore government today, with 83% (545 out of 651) of unique e-services requiring it. However, all of these datasets reside in many different agencies across the Government. Due to the lack of a single, authoritative personal data repository, many agencies still continue to obtain these data directly from citizens. For example, of the 334 services requiring an individual’s personal particulars, 69% (or 230 services) continue to require their customers to fill in these details and submit supporting documents when the information can actually be pre-populated. On the other hand, the Government already generates and collects large volume of data from citizens, which should be shared easily with the consent of users. Citizens should not be required to provide Government with data that it already has. Agencies should not be required to validate information that is already validated by another agency.
MyInfo addresses two challenges in how personal data is currently collected and verified from citizens:
-Electronic forms in e-services are pre-populated with personal data, saving time and increasing the convenience to the citizens. This also improves the public impression of an integrated Government and agencies working together to serve the public. For government agencies, resource-intensive exception handling is also minimised as instances of erroneous data are reduced.
-Validated data from authoritative sources is now made available to Government agencies reducing the need for personal data verification against physical supporting documents. This also minimises the need for citizens to produce physical documents by appearing at a counter with their identity card, or sending in physical copies of their social security balances/income tax notices of assessment. The costs of service delivery are also reduced as fewer physical counters are potentially needed, while similarly, citizens’ compliance costs in terms of printing out and submitting physical documents are similarly reduced.
To achieve these goals, MyInfo has been developed as a service which allows Singapore citizens, permanent residents and work pass holders to provide personal data only once (if not already available to the Government), instead of doing so for every government e-service transaction. The platform aims to increase convenience and time savings to citizens in their e-service transactions, while reducing the cost of service delivery to government agencies by reducing hard copy document verification. It does this by making available authorized sources of citizens’ own personal data securely by facilitating control and consent-based sharing of this validated data in government transactions.
MyInfo was launched in January 2016 with digital services such as applications for public housing and family planning schemes, so that consenting users need not fill in personal information which the Government already has, such as date of birth, registered address, and marital status. It is progressively being rolled out to 120 government-to-citizen digital services. There is strong interest in the MyInfo Commercial service from the banks. The Government is exploring extending the Pilot to other financial products such as credit cards, loans and insurance. The MyInfo Commercial Pilot service has seen good response from the public, with more than 500 profile retrievals per month for bank account applications since launch; and banks have experienced an average productivity increase of about 10% so far. This is expected to increase further as banks streamline their back office operations and implement straight through processing of applications made using MyInfo in the coming months.
The platform benefits citizens, businesses and governmental e-services providers. Citizens will enjoy time and cost savings, while finding it more convenient to transact electronically with the Government. Businesses will experienced productivity increase and a lower business costs. For the government, enhanced digital integration will raise public sector productivity by removing the need for manual data collection and verification.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Citizens have access to an electronic identity profile containing verified data from authoritative sources that they can control for use in online transactions. Users will be able to update their digital profiles via an online interface, and control the use of their personal data by providing consent for prefilling e-services forms. Their data will only need to be updated once, and it can be re-used several times. MyInfo breaks new ground in the use and disclosure of personal data for online Government-to-Citizen (G2C) transactions.
What is the current status of your innovation?
As a whole-of-government multi-agency initiative, it was recognised from the onset that MyInfo would be implemented in phases to reach all the 230 e-services owned by 60 agencies. In terms of programme governance, a three-tier governance structure comprising steering committee, working committee and project management team was setup. The steering committee is co-chaired by Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Senior Director, Ministry of Home Affairs, and comprises members from the data source and consuming agencies in Phase 1. It is expected that the composition of the steering committee will evolve in subsequent phases to better represent other agencies who will be contributing new datasets as well as making use of MyInfo data in their eservices. With the successful implementation of MyInfo Phase 1, the Ministry of Finance intends to mandate all government agencies to prioritise MyInfo data in e-service transactions within a reasonable transition timeframe.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The successful implementation of MyInfo was through the close collaboration between multiple agencies to join efforts and go beyond their current mandates, so as to unleash the next phase of data-sharing in the Public Service. The collaboration of the agencies were critical to the project as they have to adapt their current processes to allow for MyInfo. Agencies are also at the front end to deal with citizens, and are thus automatically the project’s advocate.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The immediate next steps are to review the learning points from Phase 1 so as to deploy MyInfo government-wide in the next phase. Future phases of MyInfo will include additional functionalities such as extending its use to selected private sector organizations (e.g. banks, telcos). The private sector is thus a key partner, as they have to extend or modify their system to allow for MyInfo.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
We note that it has improved customer service, reduced compliance cost, and improved data governance.
MyInfo is the first step towards allowing secure citizen-centric access to verified personal data so that it can be shared across organisations, with the citizen’s consent in a manner where they retain control over how much and with whom the data is shared, so as to receive personalised service. It is envisaged that in this future economy, firms can collect and use personal data to support individualised service delivery business models, governments can employ personal data to provide critical public services more efficiently and effectively, and researchers can access personal datasets to accelerate the development of new products.
MyInfo’s “collect once, use many times” approach to data management yields significant cost savings for Government agencies. Hence, services which traditionally require verification of physical personal documents now use the verified data from MyInfo instead.
Challenges and Failures
Prioritise citizen-centricity – To gauge user acceptance, MyInfo was launched as a five-month public pilot which included a public usability test to verify the design and user experience of MyInfo. The tests made use of eye tracking technology in a controlled environment to observe user interaction and gather insights so as to improve the system design.
Increase coverage within the Public Service – With the initial successful launch of MyInfo, the Government started a consultation process to mandate all government agencies to prioritise MyInfo data in eservice transactions by 2018. The directive will facilitate the adoption of MyInfo across all Government e-services, making it more attractive for citizens to sign-up for the service and create a significant user base for it to support other types of online transactions in the future.
Conditions for Success
What was helpful in this project was that there was a real problem that was ready to be solved. Public officers were motivated to make this project work as they see clear benefits of eliminating burdensome repetitive information filling by citizens, as they themselves are citizens too. Clear leadership in this case was exercised in mobilising the entire government to come up with a good solution using technology. Further, resources were made available for the team to initiate the project and to see it through. It was further helpful that the project was scoped in phases, with clear timeframe drawn up. Agencies were also helped onto this project in phases. This reduces the anxiety of the implementation team, as it breaks down the whole project into smaller sizes.
As MyInfo is a whole of government collaborative pilot project, regular consultations were held with the 11 participating ministries and statutory boards (i.e. 7 data sources and 17 e-services) to communicate MyInfo’s benefits to them, and understand their specific needs and feedback for refining the product. With its initial success, the government has started to engage and plan for the integration of all relevant government digital services with MyInfo by 2018. There is scope for the solution to be replicated to other countries. Almost all governments face the same need for their citizens to transact with their government, and in almost all cases, the governments either already possess the information of the citizens or will need the citizens to authenticate themselves in some form. Given so, a common solution of a self-authenticated system, and the concept of a vault of personal information of citizen, is an idea that could be adopted in most countries.
In the public usability test conducted as part of the MyInfo public pilot in Jan 2016, pilot users demonstrated an average task completion rate of 85% across the 14 system navigation tasks assigned. In the post test survey, the pilot users also rated the visual design, overall satisfaction and confidence of security for the system highly (i.e. above 8.3 on a 10 point scale). These findings were used to prioritise and design fixes that improved on the features and usability of the MyInfo system. What worked well was the keen coordination among government agencies to work together to see to the project implementation. Another area that work to our favour was the emphasis on usability and the team’s willingness to act on feedback quickly. The ability to be agile to resolve problems, the boldness in concept and implementation and the collaboration among different agencies are key to the project’s success.
Please refer to the following YouTube links for the overview video of MyInfo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdiSXeQ2i5s