It is an important strategic goal for Hungary to modernize its public administration and to increase the use of modern information and communication technologies in the interactions between state institutions themselves as well as between state institutions and citizens.
During the last five years considerable measures have been taken by the Hungarian government to reform the public administration of the country. The most important results of these reforms include the reduction of administrative burdens and the simplification of administrative procedures.
Since 2010 the number of ministries has been reduced to 9, and the number of the central public administration institutions decreased from 649 to around 300. At the same time on the level of the territorial administration 17 former administrative organs became integrated in the so called County (or in case of Budapest District) Government Offices. These changes made it possible to separate front office and back office functions. The electronic restructuring of the back office functions began on a standardized basis, in the framework of projects financed by EU funds.
Another important step towards a less bureaucratic public administration was the setting up of the system of physical points of single contact since January 2011, these are called Government Windows. In autumn 2015 there will be altogether 278 physical PSCs in Hungary. These physical PSCs make it easier for the citizens to personally administer their affairs. The physical PSCs draw on the electronic solutions available through the central electronic PSC portal. This suits the general requirement of the eInclusion principle as well. At the moment approx. 300 procedures can be administered in the Government Windows.
In April 2012, with the amendment of the Act CXL of 2004 on the General Rules of Administrative Procedures and Services by the Act CLXXIV of 2011, and the introduction of the so called regulated electronic administration services, the legal preconditions for eGovernment services were established. In July 2015 a new law on the Hungarian eID card has been adopted, and the new card will be issued from the beginning of 2016, replacing three different cards, hence further simplifying the lives of citizens.
The new legal framework gradually introduced after 2012 is open and technology neutral, thus can better adapt to changing conditions caused by the fast development of ICT technologies. During the deregulation process around 200 outdated eGovernment-related regulations have been removed. As the scope of the Hungarian eGovernment developments continuously grew, the need for a separate eGovernment law appeared, works on it have already been started, at the moment it is in the pipeline. This new law will keep the achievements of the 2012 reform and further extend the possibilities of electronization of processes.
Between 2007 and 2015 Hungary used European Union co-financed projects to develop the back office and front office functions of electronic public administration within the framework of the comprehensive New Széchenyi Plan. These funds were available through the Electronic Administration Operational Programme (EKOP) and the State Reform Operational Programme (ÁROP). During the actual financial period between 2014-2020 the funds for further developments will be available mostly within the Public Services and Public Administration Development Operational Programme (KÖFOP).
The institutional framework for eGovernment is based on five main institutions. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for the legal framework and the development of eGovernment services. The Central Office for Administrative and Electronic Public Services (KEK KH), as a background agency of the Ministry of Interior maintains the authentic national registries and is responsible for i.a. issuing official documents (ID cards, passports, etc.); providing data for public administration bodies, local municipalities, business sector and citizens; operating some of the most important systems of the Hungarian public administration; operating some of the governmental web portals and other public administration web pages; operating the 0-24 Government Hotline and the customer service of the EUGO Portal; providing ICT support for the elections, referenda and national consultations.
The fully state owned National Infocommunications Service Provider Ltd. (NISZ Zrt.) also operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior, and is responsible for providing full-scale ICT services for state institutions and authorities, operating the governmental ICT infrastructure and supporting eGovernment solutions.
Other key players of the Hungarian eGovernment landscape are the Prime Minister’s Office that is responsible for the coordination of the development of territorial public administration and the development of physical points of single contact, the Ministry of National Development responsible for the ICT infrastructure development, and the National Council for Telecommunications and Informatics (NHIT), an advisory body operating by the side of the Government.
Hungary was among the first countries to implement the 1999/93/EC Directive on electronic signatures in 2001. Nevertheless the technology did not become widespread during the last decade because single electronic signature certificates were too expensive and the central system lacked adequate applications and services. To promote the use of the services, the amendment of the Act XXXV of 2001 on Electronic Signatures created a simpler, more comfortable and more cost-efficient environment for using e-signatures.
Since 2014 NISZ Zrt. operates a Governmental Certification Service Provider (Certification Authority), providing both qualified and non-qualified (advanced) electronic signature and time stamping services, and offering complete packages including certificates, chipcards/USB tokens, chipcard readers and e-signature applications to government organizations and public institutions.
The most important eGovernment application in Hungary is the Client Gate (https://ugyfelkapu.magyarorszag.hu/), which is the official central electronic administration web service of the country. A Client Gate account can be opened personally at any Government Window (PSC), any office of the National Tax and Customs Administration or online if one possesses a qualified digital signature. After confirming the registration via e-mail the Client Gate can be used for administration and communication with the authorities. Certain administrative procedures can be administered entirely online via the Client Gate (e.g. the annual tax declaration), and it is possible to fix an appointment for the physical one-stop-shops as well, and to launch the administration of many type of procedures. The fully online services of the Client Gate include:
- services for employers and employees
- personal annual tax declaration and company tax declaration
- VAT declaration
- company registration (via an attorney-at-law)
- statistical data provision
- customs declaration
- permissions related to environment protection
In 2015 Client Gate had around 2 million registered users, and more than two thousand forms are available for download, with tax declaration, notification, account services, healthcare and social status and company registry inquiries being the most popular ones. New services and forms are made available constantly.