Home > Digital technology in four urban domains > Improve relations between local authorities and citizens > Start with pilot actions to initiate a virtuous circle with (...)

Improve relations between local authorities and citizens

Step 4

Start with pilot actions to initiate a virtuous circle with citizens


E-governance allows increased population participation in decision-making, monitoring of administrative procedures and the payment of taxes.

A virtuous circle can be initiated between better quality administrative services, accountability and confidence, and willingness to pay for these services along three lines.

  • The introduction of a communication and consultation strategy that is regular and transparent, interactive, enabling bilateral exchanges. This is not only a question of providing information on a website, but also of being able, via online spaces for discussion and dialogue, to gather users’ opinions and needs to orient decisions. This communication cannot just be a showcase: if the local authority is not able to respond to citizens’ expressions, it runs the risk of creating frustration. Taking feedback from citizens into consideration is also a means of increasing relevance and legitimacy of decisions made.
  • The dematerialisation of the procedures that render fluid and facilitate access to the administrative services, while contributing to reducing distances and delays and increasing transparency in treatment and follow up of dossiers and payments. This simplifies procedures for users and municipal agents.
  • The collection of taxes thanks to digital tools. Mobile payment is a first means of removing technical and administrative obstacles to receiving payments. But more globally, ICT contributes to reducing suspicions of embezzlement, corruption or malfeasance thanks to the automation of tasks. Monitoring systems that are neutral and objective instil confidence and defuse possible complaints.

For these solutions to operate, the local authority must be responsible for awareness raising among citizens, their free, representative participation, and the accessibility of the services.

Becoming an “online” local authority assumes in-house work is conducted to digitalize its internal organization (Part C, pillar 2). Clarifying this willingness and capacity to provide services to match the aroused expectations must be included in the balance when priority goals are defined.

Practical exercise

Identify quick, easy pilot actions to introduce digital technology in the relations between local authority and users

Define pilot e-governance actions to be implemented to respond to social demand

  • Online communication to the general public of motions voted after each council meeting?
  • Transparency and online publication of major items in local budgets each year?
  • Targeted online survey of the population’s satisfaction and needs?
  • Test online participation of citizens in the annual budget?
  • Online collection and management of a tax or duty as a test?
  • Dematerialisation of a targeted administrative procedure?

Define a friction point for developing an experimental solution

  • On a procedure that is particularly expensive for users?
  • On a procedure that is particularly ineffective for local authority?
  • In each case, think about what can be dematerialised, automated or digitalized simply for citizens?
Suggestion box

Digital technology for facilitated exchanges with citizens

  • Introduction of a website, social network pages, web portal.
  • Dematerialisation of administrative procedures and procedures: civil registry, permits, etc.
  • Creation of online libraries and archives of regulatory documents.
  • Votes and questionnaires online for citizen consultation.
  • Creation of tools for citizens to notify urban malfunctions.
  • Installation of interactive terminals, Wi-Fi and public digital spaces.
  • Forums or email systems for exchanging among politicians, administrative staff and users.
  • Mediation and digital education systems to facilitate appropriation.

Digital contributions to a participatory budget
Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Online citizen consultation for drafting municipal budget.

Participatory budget initiatives started in Brazil in the 1990s. The city of Belo Horizonte tested a participatory e-budget to increase and diversify participation.

Reunião da Comissão de Acompanhamento e Fiscalização da Execução do Orçamento Participativo (Comforça) da Regional Centro-Sul de Belo Horizonte. Foto: Reprodução/Prefeitura de Belo Horizonte.

The online voting platform created in 2006 by the municipality provides information on the scheme and on the projects; videos and images allow the citizen to query the municipal authorities and offer possibilities of discussions (online forum).

A communication campaign mobilised the municipality and civil society stakeholders (associations) who disseminated the information by traditional means (flyers, posters, television, radio), but also via an online campaign (social networks, mailing-list, etc.). Public Internet voting points were set up all over the city.

In 2006, the e-budget gathered seven times more participation than the traditional system (almost 10% of voters). Among the 500,000 votes, slightly over a third registered online. ICT enabled the cost of participation to be reduced, in particular voters’ travel costs.

The municipality opted for an iterative approach for the second edition in 2008: the voting systems were extended to include telephone voting (10% of total votes) and a chat was integrated into the platform. Furthermore, the municipality oriented projects preselected around a single goal: improving traffic, with virtual media (maps, images) and a higher budget (22.2 million US dollars on average per project). A team was dedicated to improving the system and contact with the inhabitants.

Lessons learnt

  • Involving the population in the drafting of a municipal budget using digital tools ensures better transparency of the action of the city and reaches a wider public.
  • Digital systems are complementary to conventional participation systems and it is not possible to leave out the “traditional” communication campaign.
Suggestion box

Digital technology for increasing municipal revenue

  • Creation of digital tax payer profiles with monitoring of payment statements.
  • Public terminals for paying taxes, invoices, licence fees and duties.
  • Applications for online or mobile payment of taxes and duties.
  • Applications for recording, monitoring and payment of fines.
  • Payment reminders and confirmations by SMS or email.
  • Portable connected printers for issuing receipts on site.
  • Tablet computers or connected terminals for collecting taxes on site.
  • Interfaces for information on local budget expenditure.
  • Complaints and claims services online and via SMS.

E-Citie for tax collection and payment
Kampala, Uganda

A unified information management system that enables online registration, tax returns and payment of taxes, duties and rates.

The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) launched the E-Citie programme in 2014 to improve efficiency of tax collection, increase the weight of local taxation in the operating income and thereby limit dependence on transfers from central government.

Several types of payment system have been introduced: windows, points of sale, banks, mobile phones or computers.

The system was first tested in the transport sector (road user taxes and taxi operation fees) and will be adapted to other revenue flows (hotel taxes, commercial licences, real estate taxes). It enabled the identification and centralisation of the tax payers base in a municipal register, which facilitates monitoring and improves the collection of taxes and refunds (SMS reminders of deadlines, confirmation of payments).

Between 2011 and 2016, the KCCA experienced a 266% increase in its tax receipts. Total revenue collected through mobile payment reached 12.8% of revenue collected.

Lessons learnt

  • Using simple digital tools for tax collection represents a very profitable investment for local authorities.
  • Tax collection was introduced in stages, in the first instance limiting the use of digital tools to a specific domain.

YTax for the collection of municipal taxes
Mbacké, Senegal

A municipality and an NGO engage as partners in the use of digital technology to improve the collection of local taxes.

The project YTax was set up in Mbacké (Senegal) east of Dakar to extend the tax base of the local authorities and develop good financial decentralisation.

Ytax Sénégal. Source : Bachir Kanouté, 2017.

The initiative was launched by Enda ECOPOP, an NGO headquartered in Dakar. The integrated system for the collection of municipal taxes available since 2015 was devised in partnership with the municipalities of pilot towns to make up for the inadequacies of the existing tax collection system:

  • an obsolete system often subject to fraud and corruption;
  • lack of effective control of the sums collected;
  • an tax payer information and communication deficit on the use made of the local financial resources collected, and lack of transparency.

One of the difficulties encountered when the system was introduced was the collection agents’ resistance to change and difficulties in appropriating the new tools. When a municipality joins Ytax, the officer in charge of tax records the different stakeholders in municipal tax management in the system and each player is given a user account. The collectors then go door-to-door with a mobile phone, a 3G device and a mini-printer (for receipts), in liaison with a municipal server, enabling the creation of reliable databases. Tax payers are geolocalised, aware and involved with the support of the neighbourhood councils.

In Mbacké, tax collection rose from an average daily amount of 75 euros to 540 euros after three months experimentation. The initiative is now seeking to scale up within the scope of a national programme in fifty-three Senegalese municipalities, and to develop a mobile banking module to dematerialise the tax chain in its entirety.

Lessons learnt

  • Digital technology improved tax collection, but required a change management strategy backed by an NGO.
  • The return on investment of digital technology in this domain can be very promising.

Share: Linkdin Google + Twitter Facebook