Due to geographical, social and economic differences between local communities, different levels of digitisation have existed within the local government level (3178 local municipalities and 19 counties) in Hungary in the past. Although there were several digitisation projects at the local level before, most of them resulted in isolated solutions. This contributed to the development of local government silos, and at the same time no real e-government services have been established apart from providing information online.
The Municipality ASP 2.0 project arises from the need of the Hungarian central government to overcome the former differences in levels of digitisation in local governments around Hungary. It needed to improve efficiency in public accounting and local taxation, and be able to monitor in real time the anonymised financial management and taxation data of the local municipalities.
The central government’s main needs were to introduce a solution for the local government sector to ensure their standardised operation and up-to-date financial data monitoring possibilities. In other words, it had to develop and spread unified technical quality standards and to ensure an optimal use of investment and operational resources. Finally, a centralised application service providing (ASP) model has been chosen to promote local government digitisation in Hungary.
The Municipality ASP is a centrally provided shared IT service that has standardised the internal operation of local governments. Its main goal is to provide modern, integrated and cost-effective state-of-the-art IT solutions in a software as a service (SaaS) model for local governments. The idea was to provide integrated back-office software for local governments for their functions and a common platform for e-government service provision on the local level for the end-users. This would enable them to use unified, local e-services all over the country. Thanks to this, the main issue of the differences in levels of digitisation of municipalities and local silo solutions have been resolved.
The advantage and main innovation of the ASP model also demonstrated its success during the pandemic because the users (citizens, businesses, organisations) can access the SaaS provided by a remote service provider online. This is achieved via a simple web browser, following the necessary authentication. On the other side, the municipality’s employees could easily work remotely and carry out the wide range of their functions (such as local financial management, tax administration, industry and trade management). Thanks to this project, it has become possible to provide e-government services of the same quality through a single portal via the municipalities. This has made it easier for the citizens and businesses to interact with the local public administrations.
The project also introduced an innovative data warehouse that is automatically loaded with anonymised data from the sector-specific systems of the service portfolio. This means that automated business intelligence analysis can be run to prevent local governments from indebtedness in time, and avoid situations such as the one that occurred between 2011 and 2014.