Digitalization of administrative processes in tax appeals
30 de Septiembre de 2022
“Digital technology is a fundamental force for change in this century, reshaping economies, government, and civil society – thereby impacting almost every aspect of development. The profound consequences and exponential pace of digital transformation demands both local action and global leadership to reimagine development in a digital age.”
UNDP Digital Strategy 2022-2025
The digital revolution has radically changed life as we knew it. The adoption of digital tools has been accelerated by the pandemic changing the way we work and interact with implications that go much further of digital adoption, they are oriented to the paradigm shift towards the optimization of processes and resources, collaborative work, added value for the citizen and to accelerate the close the development gaps.
For governments, the use of digital technologies has the potential to make the state more effective, efficient, inclusive and transparent. The challenges of digital transformation in Bolivia are addressed through the Electronic Government and the Information and Communication Technology Agency (AGETIC) which has the mission of leading and consolidating the development and implementation of policies, programs, projects and services to achieve technological sovereign,ty and the digital transformation of the State for the benefit of citizens. Several government institutions have already begun the road to digital transformation.
This challenge has been undertaken by the Tax Appeals Authority (AIT) which by its mandate and nature uses large volumes of physical documentation as the main input of its activities. The AIT is a national institution whose main objective is the resolution of appeals and hierarchical appeals that are filed for disputes between the taxpayer and the Tax Administration. Physical flow of documentation is essential in the AIT, it is very dynamic and requires various resources. As part of its 2021 strategic plan, the AIT prioritized the project "Digital Transformation, E-government and Digital Citizenship", to address process optimization and implementation of online services as first steps toward digital transformation.
The flow of documentation in the AIT is linked to correspondence management which is a critical administrative process. This correspondence usually carries annexes of up to 80 sheets, or even entire boxes with accounting vouchers, which are inputs for the activities carried out by the officials of the AIT. During the 2021 administration, 1300 hours of correspondence management and more than 500,000 sheets of paper were spent.
With the support of the UNDP Acceleration Lab, the AIT designed a system of digitization of correspondence that was named "SURI" (a large and very fast bird that lives in Bolivia and is known as the Andean ostrich). SURI was developed based on the adaptation of an open source and incorporated digital signature as innovation and added value to the internal administrative processes of the AIT. For this leap in internal management processes "SURI" won the National Award for Technological Innovation organized by the Agency for the Development of the Information Society in Bolivia (ADSIB).
The initial implementation of "SURI" was carried out with a leading team and allowed them to measure and project the savings and impacts in the management of correspondence: the estimated time for documentation management decreased on average by 76%, with greater impact on generation, registration, and delivery of internal documents, which by the incorporation of the digital signature reduced its average time from 12.52 minutes to 1.12, a 91% saving!
On the other hand, a 38% saving in the quantity of used sheets of paper was projected, a consumption that will gradually decrease once the other administrative processes are also digitized. Baseline measurement and the effects of the digitization exercise were performed by AIT officials, that organized carrying out a rigorous process that allowed them to know in detail the resources involved in the flow of physical correspondence and how digitization can improve the performance of your organization.
Evidence generation on the potential contribution of SURI to the organization was one of the keys aspects for building a team engaged with digital transformation. This team will foster the SURI scaling up at national level within AIT. In addition, since SURI was evaluated by the Electronic Government and the Information and Communication Technology Agency (AGETIC) there are expectations to scale at central government level.
Among the lessons learned, the importance of organizational enabling conditions to begin a digital transformation process, stands out. Aspects, like a culture opened to change, investments in tools and the motivation and autonomy of the team to build new proposals to innovate were key aspects to develop SURI. This experience is a solid first step to improve internal services, the quality of attention to public sector users and to achieve the kind of transformative impact necessary to accomplish the goals of the e-government established at the Economic and Social Development Plan 2021-2025 (PDES) of the Bolivian government.