When the assessment of the supervisory authorities involved in the implementation of the “Consult first” principle initiative in 2019 completed, the State Agency of Medicines was recognised as the leader of the initiative in 2019. The State Revenue Service, the Food and Veterinary Service, the Register of Enterprises and the Central Statistical Bureau also obtained the highest assessment in different nominations.
The Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš emphasises: “The “Consult first” initiative is a positive signal for the population and businesses that public administration is an assistant in exercising duties and rights. The population and businesses get their impression about it from meetings with any employees of a state agency or authority. When we look back at the progress made by the authorities and agencies this year, I encourage to set even more ambitious targets in customer service, so that the public feels both care and support of the state in resolution of different administrative matters”.
Ralfs Nemiro, the Minister of Economics: “The “Consult first” principle is for better cooperation. I would like to see that cooperation between public administration and businesses is not a “Nationball”, where the aim is to knock out of the game as many players as possible, but to make it more like a frisbee, where, despite the high dynamics of the game, there is mutual respect, a fair game spirit, and where the players agree on disputable situations themselves, without the help of the judge. We are evaluating every institution that has contributed to improving customer service culture and welcome new participants into the initiative”.
In 2019, the leader of the “Consult first” initiative was the State Agency of Medicines (SAM), which also received the award in the “Choice of Businesses” nomination. SAM’s leadership in this year’s assessment was promoted exactly by customers’ assessments – its employees were described as competent and forthcoming in interviews. In many situations, they proactively helped to find a solution, so there is a good dialogue between the institution and customers.
For the second year in a row, the State Revenue Service (SRS) received the award in the nomination “Leader in Supervision Strategy 2019”. When working with businesses, the SRS implements the initiative very clearly and experts also acknowledge that the strategy implemented by the SRS can serve as a model for other institutions.
The Food and Veterinary Service (FVS) received an award in the nomination “Leader in Conformity”. The institution has developed an effective and systemic approach to risk management and compliance. Customers have particularly appreciated that FVS employees do not get affected in decision-making.
The Register of Enterprises (RoE) won in the nomination “Leader in Information and Consulting” – its customers have highly appreciated modern and easy-to-use information channels that provide convenient communication and consultations both on-site and remotely. The experts, in turn, highlighted the first chat bot Una in public administration.
The Central Statistical Bureau (CSC) received an award in the nomination “Leader in Customer-Oriented Service” – the respondents admit that the institution is doing its work professionally, graciously and responsively. CSB has developed and successfully introduced principles for the interaction of employees with customers and for the assessment of employee competence. The institution is also conducting customer satisfaction surveys on a regular basis to improve its performance.
This year, two special awards were awarded in the nomination “Annual Growth” – they went to the State Labour Inspectorate (SLI) and the Health Inspectorate (HI), which demonstrated the most rapid progress in implementing the “Consult First” principle in 2019.
By now, the Memorandum of Cooperation on joining the initiative and the implementation of the “Consult first” principle has been signed and implemented by 23 institutions. In 2019, six other institutions decided to join the initiative, which also apply the “Consult first” principle in their work – the Central Finance and Contracting Agency, the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, the Agricultural Data Centre, the Rural Support Service, the State Employment Agency and the Public Utilities Commission.
With a view to creating an excellent business environment in Latvia, the Ministry of Economics (MoE), involving the national supervisory authorities, is seeking to strengthen the implementation of the “Consult first” principle in order to improve cooperation between businesses and supervisory authorities.
Supervisory authorities continue their extensive work to promote changes in public administration and cooperation between businesses. In order to assess the progress in the implementation of “Consult first” and to identify the areas that need to be further improved by the institutions, the MoE has developed an evaluation tool and assesses the compliance of the institutions with the “Consult first” principle once a year. Every year, the institutions are assessed in four phases – by interviewing customers of institutions, employees of institutions and by carrying out self-assessments and expert assessments of institutions. After evaluation of the results, each institution received individual recommendations, which will allow to improve the work of the institutions and to further improve processes in the coming year.
In 2019, the implementation of the “Consult first” principle was evaluated in 22 supervisory authorities, analysing responses received from a total of 4,928 customers (entrepreneurs) and 1,721 employees, assessing the self-assessments provided by the institutions, as well as the assessment of 6 experts and 8 council experts.
About the “Consult first” initiative
One of the national economy development priorities identified by the government is the creation of an excellent business environment in Latvia. In order to achieve this goal, in 2017 public authorities signed a memorandum agreeing to introduce the “Consult first” principle and change the approach used by supervisory authorities in cooperation with businesses. The initiative aims to improve cooperation between businesses and supervisory authorities in order to promote compliance with national requirements and understandable “rules of the game”. The Food and Veterinary Service was recognised as the leader of the “Consult first” initiative in 2018, and the State Agency of Medicines – in 2019.