Georgia’s Public Service Hall reinvents relationship between state and citizen
A client sits down at a table and a member of staff comes by. The client asks for a diet coke and a passport and hands over all the relevant documents and a small fee.
He waits for his brand new passport while sipping on the soda.
In many countries around the world, this might sound like a pipedream. But not so in Tbilisi, Georgia, at the Public Service Hall.
This concept is a Georgian innovation, which could be used as a model in many other countries.
Every citizen can come to the Service Centre and obtain the vast majority of the official documents they need, from a passport to a construction permit, a marriage certificate and a property registration.
Over 300 types of services are provided under one roof. The place, designed around the needs of citizens, feels like a beehive open in the centre of town. Some services are automated: citizens download them from computers. Others take a few minutes. When it takes longer, there is a specific waiting area. This is where the drink (and food) come in handy.
It makes life simpler for citizens, but it has also greatly contributed to reducing delays and corruption. It also has other, perhaps unintended, benefits.
“When I need to know how the economy is doing, it is simple,” says a senior Georgian civil servant: “I just look at how much activity there is down there – it is a very good indicator”.
Governments around the world could learn from that Georgian experience, no matter how advanced the country. Red tape has a way of building up and it is important to take a fresh look from time to time – just as Georgia has done.
Innovation like this is a key driver of productivity and can make a major contribution to sustained economic growth. Georgia has been a leader in innovation in the region – as shown by the accounts of the firms that feature in this series of articles.
Francis Malige is the EBRD Managing Director for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus