The Danish government’s “Away with the Red Tape” plan has put the citizen and deregulation at the top of the agenda. Three studies of young citizens present solutions that improve citizens’ overall experience of the public sector.
I don’t understand why the public sector is so bad at communicating and I think it’s provocative. I don’t know where they are, what they look like or what they do. And so I get irritable when I speak to them on the telephone.
Incomprehensible tax returns. Frustrating online assessment systems. Bewildering letters from the authorities. These were some of the experiences that were described to MindLab when we interviewed a large group of young Danes about their encounters with public sector bureaucracy under the headline “Away with the Red Tape”.
The project is a result of the Danish government’s “Away with the Red Tape” plan, which puts the citizen and deregulation at the top of the agenda. The aim of the government’s “Away with the Red Tape” plan is to see how we can eliminate outdated and unnecessary rules and digitise and simplify complicated administrative procedures and processes.
The “Away with the Red Tape” plan led to three studies being carried out by MindLab; working in collaboration with the Danish Tax and Customs Administration (SKAT), the Danish National Board of Industrial Injuries and the Danish Commerce and Companies Agency (DCCA).
– Nine young taxpayers under the age of 30
– Seven young victims of industrial injury under the age of 30
– Seven young business owners who worked without any staff
– Relevant external experts
Working in collaboration with our colleagues in a range of government departments and agencies, MindLab developed a number of different possible solutions that are intended to eliminate the perception of red tape for the three different groups of young people.
– Solution Type 1: Knowing what to expect. Having a clear overview of how a case is handled by government decreases the likelihood of misunderstanding and frustration. We explored how case work can be more transparent, so that decisions and experiences seem more reasonable to those affected by them.
– Solution Type 2: From digital access to digital self-reliance. Citizens don’t just require digital literacy, they also need to understand how to complete a given online task. This means that usability must be understood as more than just a technical solution.
– Solution Type 3: Investing in Personal Contact. Even the best IT solution cannot translate laws, rules and procedures to a citizen’s everyday solution as effectively as a face to face meeting. For this reason a personal encounter can be used as a way of making an initial investment in a citizens long-term self-reliance.
– Solution Type 4: Building Strategic Alliances. Caseworkers are only one of many other different actors that individual citizens typically meet in their encounter with public sector bureaucracy. We looked at how to ensure that other actors contribute positively to the overall handling of cases and deliver the right information at the right time.
Deregulation has often focused on objective criteria, such as time consumption and the number of rules. But the MindLab studies deliberately avoided predefining a rule or procedure as the “red tape”. Instead, the three studies examined citizens’ subjective experiences with public sector regulations, communication channels and service.
The initiatives that have been devised in the three studies stem from a design-driven process, which is characterised by systematic idea development and prioritisation, the development of concepts and the description of specific prototypes in direct dialogue with citizens
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Expert interview provides specific knowledge about the problem and the context that you investigate. This provides a qualified foundation for the further project work.
The ethnographic interview provides an in-depth and specific insight into user experiences in relation to the current situation. The interview can also help to refine the existing knowledge and provide new perspectives for the further analysis and concept development in the project.
Concept development creates a single whole out of the ideas that have been developed by combining key elements from all the different ideas into a complete solution. In order to do this it is important to consider all aspects of the concept and specify the ideas that you have worked with.