One-Stop Portals: An Enabler for Digital Inclusion

Thu 20 Apr 2023

The Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which has been publishing an assessment of the digital government landscape for the United Nations every two years since 2001, dutifully introduced a new rating scale for the 2022 edition of its survey to better reflect the ability of users to carry out their procedures independently. The scoring breakdown is as follows: the country being assessed is given a score of 0 if the targeted service is not available via an official online service channel. A score of 1 is assigned if relevant information or an application form is available, but other aspects of the service must be completed through other contact channels. A score of 2 is assigned if the service is complete or the application process is available online. Finally, if users are additionally able to manage their entire process via a digital service channel, including the potential payment and receipt of all relevant documents, a score of 3 is awarded.

Indeed, instead of simplifying them, the digitization of administrative procedures alone can seem like a proverbial obstacle course, with a succession of hurdles and complex or poorly specified routes to obtain information.

The implementation of service portals (or “one-stop shops”) is therefore a natural part of the process of simplifying administrative procedures — one that is centered on the user. These portals contribute to improving the efficiency and governance of the administration of services through the automatic exchange of reliable information between the various public structures in strict compliance with the rules of personal data protection and privacy.

Facilitate Procedures and Promote Digital Inclusion for Citizens

The primary objective of a one-stop-shop portal is to provide the various services offered by the administration for citizens and businesses without discrimination, thus contributing to the overall goal of digital inclusion.

This optimal one-stop-shop portal must provide citizens with the following functionalities:

  • To lay out the various administrative steps adapted to each particular situation in an intuitive way.
  • To inform users about their duties and rights.
  • To facilitate the completion of the corresponding electronic forms online (e.g., the birth of a child, travel abroad, the General Assembly of a company, the creation of an association, etc.) through single requests for information and by avoiding repeat requests for information previously gathered by the administration.

The portal can be enhanced with interactive chat assistants to help users complete procedures and provide guidance for them. Finally, the portal must allow users to follow the progress of their current applications and access their digital files at any time.

Among the various technical components of a one-stop shop, the Content Management System allows the design, management and updating of websites or mobile applications in a simple and dynamic way. It implements accessibility rules that take into account the different profiles of the users and their varied abilities to use such digital services.

The Business Process Management system provides intuitive tools for both modeling and executing administrative procedures. When interfaced with a variety of parameters, including the national digital identity system, electronic payment gateways, electronic signature systems, time stamping, notification systems and electronic archiving systems, the service was able to achieve the aforementioned top score for technical proficiency in the UN Online Service Index.

In this context, users are able to perform all transactions via an online channel and thus fully contribute to digital inclusion.

By making it widely accessible to the greatest number of people, especially those with disabilities or senior citizens, a government portal allows the largest number of citizens to benefit from the host of opportunities offered by digital technology to facilitate access to the widest variety of government services.

The development of its use by citizens also requires the mobilization of public and private actors to achieve the following:

  • Strive towards autonomy and appropriation of digital uses;
  • Guarantee human support by giving caregivers the means to bridge the gap between digital administrative procedures and users;
  • Propose various support paths; and
  • Support the local initiatives of territories and actors in the field.

In short, the aim of such online access and provision is to provide the largest number of people with the digital skills and the confidence to use these tools, facilitate services and contribute to overall social and economic integration.


Karim Bensaid: Consultant and architect in information technologies

Philippe Tardieu: e-gov. manager