Easybrussels, the Brussels administrative simplification agency, which was created in 2015, evaluates its first administrative simplification plan, for the 2015-2020 period.
A cross-cutting mission
During the five-year period of the plan, Easybrussels has first installed a framework to enable its cross-cutting mission, in conjunction with all administrations and all Brussels public interest organisations.
Thanks to its steering committee and cooperation agreements with the Brussels Regional Informatics Centre (BRIC), the Economic and Social Council (ESC), Brulocalis and the Federal Public Service Policy and Support, but also specific task forces, Easybrussels has ensured an efficient outreach to develop its actions in the Region.
The digital inclusion
By forging a partnership with the BRIC and the sector of Digital Public Spaces (DPS), Easybrussels has seen to it that the evolution within administrations to simplify administrative formalities for citizens and businesses in the Smart City always take into account digital inclusion and vulnerable profiles with regard to digital matters.
Accordingly, a coordinator dealing with digital inclusion at the BRIC was appointed to develop a DPS label and a charter for all Brussels administrations and municipalities on this subject, for a clearer distinction between training areas and digital access areas. The coordinator also leads actions intended for the concerned population groups on the Brussels territory.
The citizens at the core of our considerations
In order to optimally devote itself to implementing measures that will improve administrative procedures and make them easier for citizens, Easybrussels did not limit itself to the measures and projects imposed by the European Union, but took the initiative to launch a citizen survey so as to become aware of the needs of the Brussels inhabitants and to make sure the measures taken by the agency fulfill those needs.
A few results from this survey show that:
- On average, a citizen will undertake 2.3 administrative steps per year.
- 71% of all Brussels citizens want the administrations to step up their mutual cooperation, so that they will no longer be forced to send/fill in the same information over and over again. Therefore, Brussels administrations will have to improve the information flow between them to ensure administrative simplification.
- 69% of the Brussels citizens want to keep the physical government offices. The public services must be aware of the fact that they are at the stage where two systems co-exist: they must be able to respond to citizens who want to access their administrations digitally for their administrative steps, but they must also maintain their services for the most vulnerable population groups.
Citizens use 1.6 channels to contact an administration.
> Citizens that go straight to the government offices: 56%
> Citizens that consult their administration online: 48%
> Citizens that consult their administration over the telephone: 35%
Therefore, Easybrussels stresses the value of staying close to the citizens. This is why the agency has striven to maintain close contact with the Brussels municipalities through Brulocalis.
At this municipal level, Easybrussels contributed to the gradual shift of the department of population and civil registration towards virtual offices. Furthermore, the agency stimulated the creation of administrative simplification departments in Saint-Gilles, Koekelberg, Saint-Josse, Ixelles, Jette, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Anderlecht, Molenbeek, Woluwé-Saint-Pierre and the City of Brussels. As of now, Saint-Gilles is the only Brussels municipality that boasts a municipal administrative simplification plan.
Digital tools to gain comfort
The Brussels virtual government counter has significantly evolved thanks to the energy of Easybrussels: the amount of form requests submitted through IRISbox has increased by 81% since 2015.
On another note, promoting Mon Dossier (My File), the federal virtual government counter, has led to the IRISbox documents being free of charge in several municipalities, and has stimulated the arrival of digital terminals at the municipal administration offices, so as to familiarise the users with these tools.
The eBox strategy, which concerns the individual mailbox for every Belgian citizen, containing all administrative documents sent by the public authorities, contributes to reducing administrative steps, travelling and costs, leading to a sustainable comfort gain for citizens while at the same time heading in the direction of a paperless administration.
Making access to information easier and reducing the obstacles with regard to administrative steps is also the point of the very ambitious procedure catalogue project: a platform where Brussels citizens and businesses can easily find information about the administrative procedures they are looking for, and which will direct them towards the right institutions.
Trainings to support citizens
Acting in the Smart City does not only imply that the Region offers its citizens and users tools that are adapted to the technological evolution. It also implies developing a smart administration within the smart city. Therefore, regional and municipal government officials need to be prepared for the changes and need to receive training.
It is with a view to build a smart administration that Easybrussels has made significant progress with regard to online tenders. Thanks to a protocol with the FPS Policy and Support and the implementing of a regional circular, Easybrussels has encouraged the Brussels administrations to accelerate their transition towards online tenders, so as to make the tender process more transparent and easier to react to for Brussels businesses. Since 2016, the agency has taught 750 government officials about the modules of the online tender management platform e-Procurement.
The regional agency has also helped to streamline the contact between administrations and providers through electronic invoicing, which frees up time that can be spent on other activities than keeping track of invoices. Since the launch of the project, Easybrussels has observed that nearly all Brussels administrations, both at the regional and local levels, have taken steps in the direction of electronic invoicing, by registering on the Mercurius platform.
The Smart City is also a place where sharing data makes the users’ lives easier and enables the creation of new services.
Since 2016, Easybrussels has been able to prove, in cooperation with the BRIC, the value of Open Data in creating new applications for citizens.
This is how the regional platform opendatastore.brussels has received more than 200 additional data sets since its creation in 2016. Easybrussels has raised awareness among all administrations about authentic sources and the Once Only principle, which help administrations avoid asking citizens information again that they already possess, and has worked on an ordinance that will make implementing this principle mandatory.
The agency has received the support of the European Commission in the frame of the Structural Reform Support Programme, budgeted at €390,000. This reinforces the value of this principle with a view to simplify administrative steps for citizens.