An efficient way to get a National Insurance Number please, season 1, episode 2!!
By Peter Baeck
As described in my blog a few weeks ago I am in the midst of trying to get a National Insurance Number, which has at several occasions seemed harder than untying a Gordian Knot.
I did however in the end manage to make an appointment for the NI number interview, and yesterday was the big day.
What is demanded of you to get a NI number is a driver’s license, passport, proof of residence and a letter from employer. All of this could be filled out online, as they do it France, taking less than five minutes. Instead 20 different forms have to be filled out and stamped by a NI worker by hand. He has to fill out each form with applicants name, address etc. which all together took more than 45 minutes. The NI worker then explained to me, that he has to enter most of information in to an online database after I leave.
My question is, why all this time consuming paperwork?
Online application forms are used in so many areas of the private and public sector. If I want a Barclays Bank account all I have to do is fill in an online application stating the most basic information about me. A bank employee can then check the data before calling me to an interview, saving both mine and the banks time.
In Denmark online public service has been introduced through the web portal citizen.dk. Here you can apply for the Danish equivalent of a NI number, change your address, fill in your tax report etc. And through ‘digital signature’ it is ensured that the online applications hold the same legal value as physical applications.
Not only do you save time and money, but you also improve the service level significantly, since users can now optimize their time and use public services when it suits them rather than when it suits the system.
Our search for public sector innovations that deliver better outcomes for lower cost suggest that these in most cases aren’t about inventing groundbreaking new technologies or tools, but instead its about using what has already been developed in different ways.
While waiting for my interview I counted 6 desks open for interviews. This means that if the office had had the online application system enabling each desk could to handle an application in 5 – 10 minutes rather than in 45, they could during the time it took to interview me and 5 others have saved 3.5 working hours.