The Ministry of Communications proposed to make the public services portal a single window for complaints and appeals of citizens to authorities. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to process requests. The technology should also be used to verify the relevance of the responses to the initial requests, experts say. In their opinion, the public services audience can limit the possibility of criticism of government agencies, where only a little more than half of the country’s population have verified accounts.
It is proposed to make the public services portal a single electronic window for citizens’ appeals and complaints to the authorities, it follows from the bill (available to Kommersant), developed by the Ministry of Communications. Only a citizen registered in the unified system of identification and authentication (ESIA) of public services will be able to file a complaint or appeal.
visits to public services website recorded, according to SimilarWeb, in May
The portal will create a rubric of situations for referring requests, introducing automatic referral to an authorized body, receiving notifications about the progress of consideration, as well as structuring calls and using AI to process typical requests, follows from the explanatory note.
It will also be possible to file written appeals and complaints in multifunctional centers or by mail. The bill should come into force 180 days after publication, this time will be needed to adopt by-laws and finalize the public services portal.
According to the Ministry of Communications, every year citizens send at least 10 million letters, including complaints, statements and suggestions on various issues, to 250 thousand authorities at all levels.
About 65% of requests are already sent through forms on official websites or by e-mail, said Oleg Pak, the first deputy head of the Ministry of Communications. “This is often inconvenient – each time they are different sites, addresses, ways of filling in information – all this works extremely inefficiently. A citizen sends an appeal and does not know whether it was received or not, but to find out the fate of the appeal, you need to call the information phones, which are often busy or do not answer, ”he explains. The bill, according to the official, is aimed, inter alia, at solving these problems, as well as at increasing the efficiency of interaction between government agencies themselves when considering appeals.
This is not the only initiative of the Ministry of Communications to expand the functionality of the public services portal. As Kommersant reported on June 2, the ministry suggested that online aggregators of goods and services connect to ESIA on public services to identify users. The experiment should begin on July 1.
The current regulation, on the one hand, does not contain the necessary incentives to consider citizens’ appeals on the merits, and on the other hand, it allows using the mechanism for abuse, said Boris Edidin, member of the digital economy legal support committee of the Moscow branch of the Russian Bar Association. “There are frequent cases when high-level officials are forced to fend off planned provocations under the guise of mass and repeated appeals of citizens,” he says. Thanks to localization on a single platform and reliable identification of applicants, there will be more opportunities for evaluating and analyzing appeals, monitoring compliance with the review deadlines, and identifying mass problems, the expert believes.
But the problem of assessing the effectiveness of considering citizens ’appeals – how satisfied the applicant is with the results of interaction with the state agency, and the official is interested in resolving the issue on the merits – has not been resolved in the bill, Boris Edidin emphasizes.
Potentially, AI could analyze the relevance of the rules of law given in the responses of departments to the initial appeal of citizens, believes Nikolai Legkodimov, head of technological practice at KPMG in Russia and the CIS.
Another potential weak point of the single window system is reassignment routes, adds Mr. Legkodimov. “They should not violate the basic principle, when the complaint cannot be directed to the agency to which they complain. Control should be provided, which is also relevant for the manual process – the adjustable length of the chain and the transparency of the settlement process, ”he says, assuming that automated analytics should identify the problem areas.
In addition, the registration itself on the public services portal may become an administrative barrier in creating a “one-stop shop”, which will limit the possibility of criticism of state and municipal authorities, Mr. Yedidin warns. As of June, the number of citizens registered in ESIA was about 119 million people, and the number of verified accounts was 69.5 million (data from the Ministry of Economy) with a population of the Russian Federation in 2020 of 146.8 million people.