Last year at this time, Renata Puiu was preparing her documents to go out on maternity leave. Like any future parent, Renata was also interested in the procedure to get the birth allowance. She learned from a colleague that she could submit this request online.

Within a few weeks of giving birth, after getting used with the new role and routine, while the baby was taking his nap, Renata browsed the public service portal - servicii.gov.md/ecnas - to apply for the birth allowance.

"But surprise, the system did not recognize my baby ID (identification number), so I had to go personally to the National Social Insurance House (NSIH)."*

The hard road to the offices of the clerks

Renata Puiu with her daughter

Easy to say, but difficult to do. The territorial office she was assigned to, was in the opposite district of the city, and the road was full of obstacles: "Beside the fact that I must take public transport to reach my destination, which is always crowded, I had to be careful to the baby’s needs. He does not ask how many stations are left if he's hungry."

The very thought of having to push the stroller down on the damaged sidewalks and lift the stroller with the baby and personal things on the stairs frightened her. But she had to claim her right to the birth allowance, so she gathered her courage: "I was hoping it would not rain at least. If it rains, it is much more difficult. The waiting space is very small and not accommodated for strollers."

Long wait lines, few counters

Once she arrived at the NSIH Territorial Office, she did not even have time to take a breath, as she had to stand in line with the pack of documents and the baby in her arms. The waiting area was crowded, the queue was long and full of parents with children, older people, beneficiaries of allowances and indemnities. The nerves were stretched to the utmost, and the patience stood to sink.

Finally, her turn came. The documents were checked, and the she received the allowance on her bank card in one month after applying.

"The NSIH operators, being very receptive, recommended me to apply for the monthly allowance for childcare from home. An excellent recommendation!"

Out of the total number of maternity allowances and benefiting families with children, 90% are traditionally received - offline, says Elena Nazarco from NSIH. Despite that since October 2016, an online service is in place.

We rethink services for people

The online service was redesigned with the support of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Innovative Laboratory, MiLab, in partnership with the Electronic Governance Agency.

It started from the idea of ​​reengineering a service that took into account people's needs first and only after for the operators’ convenience.

"We call this user centered design approach. We had direct interviews with the beneficiaries of the allowances and the operators at the counter and accompanied the user and observed how they use the service within their natural environment. We have tried to put the beneficiary at the center of attention to arrive at novel solutions that deeply reflect the user’s needs.  After mapping the processes, we counted no more than 26 steps," says Dmitri Belan, research and design specialist services at MiLab.

Subsequently, a group of 10 people put on paper a new, simple and convenient model for this public service. This formula has been tested to avoid duplication and technical errors.

The service redesign was managed within an UNDP project, supported by MindLab from Denmark.

Trust in e-Services is growing

From the beginning of 2018, through the electronic service “e-request. Allowances for Families with children" over 12,000 applications were received.

Two weeks after her visit to NSIH, Renata tried her luck with the online service again. This time, the ID was promptly recognized by the system and the entire application procedure did not take more than five minutes.

"The request was accepted very fast. If you open your bank card, the money automatically comes to your account. There is no need to enter the card data as it is included automatically in the system."

Cornelia Amihalachioaie from the eGovernance Agency claims that e-services have more benefits for all parties involved: "Applying online to receive an allowance has shortened the waiting period, and recipients get information much faster and do not bear any expenses. At the same time, families with children no longer submit the necessary documents for calculating the respective allowances, because all the necessary details taken from the State Population Registry and the State Register of Individual Records in the Public Social Insurance System."

Renata agrees: "This service helps you to make your job as a parent better, which is a full-time one, 24/24. You submit all documents in 5 minutes and dedicate the rest of the time to create beautiful moments and memories for the child."

* The processing period and integrating the child’s ID in the online system takes one month.

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