e-Government for Better Civil Services: How the Korean Government Implemented the e-Registration System

YOON, Ji Woong

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Countries around the world use information technologies to interact with their citizens, provide information, enable service delivery, and perform other government functions—a phenomenon referred to as e-government. The Republic of Korea is widely regarded as a leader in the realm of e-government (Centre for Public Impact, 2016; UNDESA, 2018; Ewha Women’s University, 2016). One area in which e-government systems have been deployed in the Korean government is in the digitization of that country’s national Resident Registration System (RRS). This electronic RRS (E-RRS) is integrated with systems that link information held by government agencies, enabling them to share administrative information more effectively to administer a wide range of government services. This system drew on the residence registration number (RRN), a unique national identification issued to each Korean citizen, which are in turn linked to resident registration cards (RRCs).

The use of RRCs is tied to a wide variety of key activities, among others “elections, tax collection and revenue services, school enrollment and assignment, military conscription and affairs, welfare services, and housing” (Yoon 2015). Prior to the establishment of the E-RRS, Koreans needed to obtain a variety of paper certificates to access public services. For example, to access social welfare services, data from multiple ministries, insurance systems, and income information needed to be gathered and attached by the applicant. This was less convenient for citizens who needed to gather this information, imposed a significant burden of paperwork on officials, and had costs for government (see for example, Kim Yeong-Mi, et al. 2007, in Yoon 2017).

The E-RRS made it possible for Korean citizens to access an extensive range of public services using just their RRN/RRC, often online through a system of government websites, and for government systems to automatically share and check information rather than requiring the submission of additional forms. These services included obtaining a birth certificate, health insurance, paying taxes, accessing pensions, military service registration, and welfare and social programs.

This case study (prepared by Ji Woong Yoon) and delivery note (adapted by Jacob Bathanti based on the case study for the Global Delivery Initiative) examines how the government of Korea was able to create the E-RRS and harness it to more efficiently provide services.

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KDI School of Public Policy and Management, World Bank
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