€40 million will be invested into the digitization of government services over the next three years including the gradual introduction of artificial intelligence and blockchain, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Monday.

A strategic plan for the digitization of public administration was launched this morning, with the primary aim of introducing the ‘once-only’ principle for online services.

The ‘once-only’ principle is an e-government concept that aims to ensure that citizens, institutions, and companies only have to provide certain standard information to the authorities and administrations once.

On this, Dr Muscat said Digital Ledger Technology, often referred to as the blockchain, would be integral.   

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Dr Muscat said the strategic plan included around 150 measures with definite timelines for their implementation that would transform the public service's servizz.gov platform.

Principle Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar, the head of the civil service, said the reforms that will take place over the next three years would continue the overhaul of the sector that started a few years ago.

The aim was to bring the public service up to date, but to also prepare it for future emergent technological shifts such as artificial intelligence and DLT.

What are the reforms? 

According to the document, digitization reforms will be carried out at at several different entities.

Identity Malta will see reforms particularly through the introduction of a new public registry system.

At the Health Department changes will be done to the pharmacy of your choice program, and a cross-border eHealth service will be introduced among others.

The Social Security Department will see a multi-phase reform of its elderly case management system.

The Education Department will undergo several changes including a school transport parent notification system.

In the sector of Finance, tax clearance certification will move online, customs will introduce a new tack and trace function, and artificial intelligence will be merged into the taxation system.

In the Tourism and Culture sphere, tourism zone monitoring will be digitized, and Gozo-specific services will migrate online.

The national emergency services will introduce a reverse 112 emergency notification system for citizens in danger. The emergency medical system will be integrated to the online system. Global navigation satellite systems will be used to detect emergency locations, and digital radios used by first responders will eventually be replaced by integrated communication tools.

In the transport sector, a number of new initiatives will be rolled out including a new bumper-to-bumper app, a smart parking pilot project for Xlendi, a Gozo ferry boarding prediction, and an online vehicle registration system by 2021.

The energy sector will see the launch of new services online and an overhaul of equipment used.

In the environmental sector a new Environment and Resources Authority website will be launched as well as a responsive website and mobile service for green public procurement. An online environmental applications system will be introduced, and a geo-portal for the management of valleys and water catchment.

For farmers, EU funding application systems will be improved, a new field monitoring system will be rolled out, and a new veterinary regulation division will system will be introduced.

Finally, the reform will also see the introduction of a new system for the management of registration and transfer of properties.