A soft launch of m-government services took place yesterday, with numerous mobile applications (apps) tested by focus groups.

Speaking at the launch, civil service head Mario Cutajar said mobile apps were a natural step for reducing bureaucracy.

The aim was to offer 24/7 access to government services, he said.

The two-year m-government strategy, covering 2017 and 2018, acknowledges that a continuous service cannot be provided while there are static, traditional government departments which are not flexible enough to keep up with the demands that the new levels of accessibility will create.

Mr Cutajar said offering these new services without renewing the civil service would not suffice. He added the apps had to be seamless by functioning across different government departments.

The number of one-stop shops for government services will be increased

The ultimate aim was the only-once principle, which meant that users would only have to submit their information once, instead of multiple times for every different service they made use of. A shift was required from data storage to data management in order to fulfil this goal, Mr Cutajar said.

He said the number of one-stop shops for government services would be increased. This community level service meant that people who preferred a face-to-face service no longer needed to commute to Valletta, Mr Cutajar said.

MITA executive chairman Tony Sultana said the official launch of certain m-government services would take place in March. A soft launch of mobile payment services would take place the following December, with the official launch in March 2018, Mr Sultana said.

Apart from the development of specific apps, the strategy aims to make all government websites fully accessible from mobile devices. It will also seek to provide a government notification facility, including acknowledgments and confirmation of appointments.

A live chat service is envisioned to facilitate real-time, two-way communication between citizens and public officials within the different mobile services.

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