What goes into making service delivery to citizens remarkable?
Written by Dayna Camilleri Clarke
MITA plays a considerable role in our day-to-day lives by enabling technology to streamline processes to make several government service deliveries so much easier for us. The MITA teams work relentlessly (and all too often in the background) to provide services every one of us encounters daily, yet where can you stumble across a MITA project?
The answer is everywhere. Dayna Camilleri Clarke spoke to three Project Managers, Simon Formosa, Thomas Desira, and Marvin Zammit, at MITA to find out more about their latest projects and the work they have been undertaking to overhaul archaic systems.
Malta Public Registry
From the use of Maltese diacritic letters when registering a new-born’s name to other legislation updates, MITA together with Identity Malta Agency has worked on modernising Malta’s Public Registry System, making it more robust and capable of holding colossal catalogues of records. “MITA works in close collaboration with the Public Registry Office to further enhance internal processes through the modernisation of the legacy systems for recording Births, Adoptions, Marriages and Deaths, and the delivery of new solutions. The ‘New Public Registry System (NPRS)’ was implemented in December 2019” – explains Thomas Desira, Project Manager responsible for the technical delivery of the Systems for Transport Malta and the Public Registry, “This was a huge overhaul as the records of Malta and Gozo date back to 1863.”
The Public Registry Office has embarked upon numerous projects with MITA. One recent project is the provision of an eService for Births and Deaths, whereby citizens have the facility to notify the birth of a child or the death of a person online without the need to visit the Public Registry offices. Citizens are informed in real-time once an Act is registered and signed by the Public Registry, following which certificates can also be bought online through the Certifikati website (https://certifikati.gov.mt), another solution that has been modernised by MITA during 2020.
The NPRS captures information which is shared legally across Government Systems through the Common Data Base (CdB).
If you’ve bought, sold or registered a vehicle locally or applied for a driving license – you’ve already encountered a MITA-enabled system through Transport Malta. “MITA has worked in many areas to digitalise Malta Transport systems, and one recent eService that has been implemented is the learner permit application and booking of a driving test online. Another popular one-stop-shop service across the Island includes the online VRT and renewal of vehicle road licences used by authorised Transport Malta eAgents such as Insurance providers. It used to be the case that individuals would have queue at Transport Malta offices (after visiting their insurance provider), but now we have crossed over to synchronise processes and systems, ultimately saving everyone lots of paperwork and time. The same applies to the transfer of vehicle ownership. This is now possible through authorised eAgents, thanks to MITA, adds Thomas.
Tax should not be taxing and MITA has been working with the Tax Office for a long time to provide the backbone and the accompanying administrative/IT solutions in the areas of Capital Transfer Duty, Income Tax, and Value Added Tax. Working hand in hand with the Ministry of Finance and Employment (MFE), the Commissioner for Revenue (CfR) as well as other key stakeholders, such as the Mala Institute of Accountants and the Notarial Council, the project team is involved in various activities such as providing consultancy, software development, and building business models. Project Manager responsible for the taxation team at MITA, Marvin Zammit explains, “one of our main remits is to improve taxpayer services; being it a business or a citizen”. For example, Marvin explains that through the Non-Filer Initiative, taxpayers are not required to file an Income Tax Return, because the system has been designed to calculate the tax due and tax credits automatically and made available to the taxpayer both online and in paper form. If the information is correct, no further actions are required from the taxpayer.
Data sharing is at the centre of making this initiative a success. Thanks to entities reporting different types of information – in the likes of employment income, the tax deducted by employers and school fees paid by private independent schools, the CfR can simplify citizens’ tax obligations and tax collection. In fact, Marvin explained that “in the year 2020, from the auto population of information gathered, 80% of the citizen taxpayers, did not need to report anything to the CfR and thus identified as Non-Filers”. Marvin continues “also, as my colleague Thomas said in relation to the NPRS, several of our systems communicate with the NPRS through the CdB to use data already available and thus eliminating the request of information from the citizens”. An example of this is the CfR uses the NPRS data to automatically register life-event changes of taxpayers such as marriage.
Key to the Team’s successful implementations are their end-users, explains Marvin. So, by keeping their feedback and requirements in mind, a suite of simplification measures and other handy services for the taxpayer are being implemented such as the launch of mytax personal tax portal. Through this portal one can access the revamped online personal tax return which simplifies the tax-return filing process by auto population of taxpayer information known to the CfR, the automatic calculation of tax and tax credits, with clever in-built controls to minimise mistakes, having the possibility of saving a draft and continue later and receiving instant acknowledgement of your submission.
“If you have encountered the system myHealth, you’ve met MITA”, adds Simon Formosa, Project Manager responsible for the Health Team at MITA. This is an extremely important service since it enables the Ministry for Health’s strategy to facilitate the continuation of patient care between public and private healthcare providers. Through this portal, citizens are placed in control of parts of their health records; they can give their private family doctor access to their patient health records such as laboratory results and medical imaging reports, Pharmacy of your Choice (POYC) data, and COVID-19 PCR test results, amongst others. “Important parts of your medical information can be found in one place, and the portal is a one-stop-shop that enables data sharing and the integration of services successfully” explains Simon.
It goes without saying that MITA’s services have benefitted the public of Malta immensely in a year of a global pandemic. The team had to work fast to design effective systems and services to keep up with the progressing COVID-19 scenario. Simon explains that their latest service delivery is the Rapid Antigen Test Application. To give some context, he explained that the Ministry for Health has just published a legal notice to regularise the use of Rapid Antigen Test kits to detect an active coronavirus infection in a person. The legal notice obliges that all Rapid Antigen Tests results must be submitted to the Superintendent of Public Health via a web application, and this is where the MITA Health Team came in. Simon continued explaining that “timescales were extremely tight to deliver, which meant that the team had to work closely with the client and apply the Agile working methodology to deliver the project in the shortest possible timescales.” The team produced an early prototype, and throughout the lifecycle of the project, enhanced the prototype through collaboration with the business owner, employed continual planning, experience learning and improvement accordingly to deliver business benefits and the solution. It essentially encouraged flexible responses to the changing needs of the client. Simon carries on saying that “the MITA Health Team and the client were fully engaged on this project, and as they say in project management, the client’s commitment is just as important as that of the supplier. This was key to successfully deliver the solution within a few weeks”.
System Integration Services is another important service provide by the team. “As my colleagues mentioned earlier in this interview, data has become a strong lifeline in our operations” says Simon. The MITA Health team has implemented the infrastructure to enable the centralised provision of data services for consumption by various health systems, and thus facilitate the interfacing of health systems. This is a service provision that works in the background and is not directly visible to citizens. “It is an enabler” says Simon; “and what is essentially happening, is that we are facilitating that the right clinical data from various health systems is placed at the fingertips of clinicians, and thus, assisting in the improvement of patient care.
So, by way of conclusion, in a world where Governments are sitting on tremendous amounts of data; the ultimate way forward is indeed the (legal) sharing of data between entities, which with proven scenarios allows for the improvement and simplification of service delivery. Data is undeniably the key to unfolding and predicting peoples’ wishes from their Governments.