Frequently asked questions about the renewal of the services and premises network
In the renewal of the central government's service and premises network, service network means all of the service points that exist for the in-person services provided by central government authorities. In practice, this means the network formed by local tax offices, Employment and Economic Development Offices, legal aid offices, and the service points of the National Land Survey of Finland, Finnish Immigration Service and Digital and Population Data Services Agency, etc., which customers can physically visit when in need of public services. In this context, the service network does not include, for example, health centres, early education centres or schools.
The current service network of central government authorities consists of about 700 services points and about 200 joint service points.
The aim of the renewal of the central government's service and premises network is to reshape the service network so that by 2030, the current authority-specific service network will be replaced by a network of joint customer service points that provide services of the central government, local governments and, where appropriate, welfare services counties.
The renewal of the service and premises network aims to reduce the amount of offices in the network by 2030, because changes to how people work, such as multi-location working, remote working and digitalisation, will have a significant effect on the need for premises. At the same time, the renewal will promote the shared use of offices, which will also make it possible to reduce the amount of premises in use.
The service and premises network renewal will implement the central government premises strategy, which was approved as a government resolution. The objective of the strategy is that 25 per cent of central government employees will work in shared offices by 2030. The average space efficiency target for office premises is 10 m² net floor area/person-year. This target will be applied in new premises projects, taking into account the special characteristics of the administrative sector and the proportion of remote and in-office work.
In shared work environments, the personnel of different authorities work in the same offices. The service and premises network renewal will develop and apply a concept for shared offices and related joint security and ICT solutions. Senate Properties and the organisations participating in the renewal are closely involved in the joint development work.
The renewal is necessary, because of the significant changes taking place in society in the 2020s, such as the increase in the availability and use of electronic services and the resulting significant decrease in the use of in-person services, the concentration of the population in urban centres, the increase in location-independent work and diminishing financial resources. These changes in society necessitate the development of the service and premises network for in-person services, because maintaining it in the current form will not be sustainable from an economic or ecological perspective or from the perspective of the changes taking place in the needs of customers and in ways of working.
For an increasing number of people, electronic services have become the primary way of using public services, and this is the baseline for the renewal of the service and premises network. However, the network for in-person services needs to be renewed, because society must continue to ensure that people who are unable or unwilling to use electronic services have the opportunity to use in-person services. The goal of the renewal is also to improve people's ability to use electronic services by improving the availability of digital support.
The renewal is also necessary because it seeks to improve the service experience and standard of services. Gathering services under the same roof will make it easier to handle one’s affairs with public administration. The standard of services will improve, because it will be possible to receive more extensive service from different authorities, for example, remotely. In addition, the Public Governance Strategy requires that all of public administration be developed to work together as a coherent unit. The renewal of the service and premises network implements the Public Governance Strategy.
Of central government authorities, the renewal primarily involves the Regional State Administrative Agencies, the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, the Finnish Immigration Service, the National Land Survey of Finland, legal aid and public guardianship services, the Police licence administration, the Criminal Sanctions Agency’s Community Sanctions Offices, the Employment and Economic Development Offices, the National Enforcement Authority, the Tax Administration and the Social Insurance Institution of Finland Kela. Kela is involved in the renewal particularly with respect to customer service.
The renewal is also being carried out in close cooperation with local governments and, as appropriate, wellbeing services counties.
A remote service and interpreting solution is a technological solution that enables an experience that is comparable to face-to-face service between the customer and authority via a computer with the help of an audio-visual connection. This is more than just a video link or video call. The remote service solution also makes it possible for the customer and representative of the authority to share, scan and print documents.
One aim of the renewal of the central government’s service and premises network is to implement and adopt a nation-wide remote service and interpreting solution for all authorities.
The Ministry of Finance commissioned the Digital and Population Data Services Agency to carry out preliminary and further studies on the implementation of a remote service and interpreting solution, which were completed in 2021. During 2022–2023, a pilot project for a remote service and interpreting solution will be carried out in 3–4 municipalities to test the use of such as solution as part of the customer service process of service providers. The participants in the remote service and interpreting solution pilot project are the Regional State Administrative Agencies, the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland Kela, the Employment and Economic Development Offices (in pilot municipalities), the National Land Survey of Finland and the Finnish Tax Administration.
The goal is for remote services and interpreting to be used considerably more often in customer service processes in 2030 than they are today and for the solution to improve the standard of service for customers throughout Finland. The aim is to have a single, common technological solution that is user oriented, easy to use and reliable.
The Ministry of Finance has set up and is leading the service and premises network project. The project is being prepared in cooperation between service providers, Senate Properties and the Government ICT Centre Valtori.
The Ministry of Finance has appointed steering and preparation groups for the project. The steering group includes representatives of the ministries that steer the authorities involved, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland Kela, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, and personnel organisations. The steering group is chaired by Juha Sarkio, Director General of the Public Governance Department of the Ministry of Finance. The members of the preparation group include representatives of the authorities involved in the project and of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.
Project sub-groups have also been appointed and tasked with preparing the project’s national policies, for example, in relation to joint customer services and shared offices. The sub-groups include representatives of the organisations participating in the project. The Ministry of Finance will appoint regional project groups for the purpose of regional implementation. The project groups will similarly include representatives of the organisations participating in the project and of the local governments in the region. Each regional project group will draw up a regional plan defining, for example, the desired state for joint customer service points and offices in the region by 2030 and the phases required to achieve that state.
Senate Properties is responsible for leading and implementing concrete premises projects.
The aim is for joint customer service points to be no more than a one-hour drive away. In addition, joint service points should have a sufficient population residing within one hour of them so that there are sufficient customers to ensure high-quality service. It has been estimated that a population base of around 10,000 people is sufficient to maintain a functional joint customer service point.
The above criteria for the service and premises renewal will guide the planning of the service network. Regional planning will use the criteria to define where the joint customer service points will be established.
The aim is for services of central government authorities, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland Kela and local governments to be available in all joint customer service points. (See the answer to question four)
The project will look into what services of wellbeing services counties are suited to being offered in joint customer service points.
Most people are able and willing to interact with the authorities digitally, and the digital services provided by authorities are being continuously developed. The service and premises project also supports the development of digital services, and the renewal assumes that functional and easy-to-use digital services will be the primary service channel. However, there are also people who are unable or unwilling to use digital services provided by the authorities, and society must continue to provide these people an equal opportunity to use in-person services in the future.
The aim of joint customer service points is for services requiring in-person visits to be available at a high level of quality in the same premises on a one-stop shop principle. Joint customer service points will also provide digital support for using electronic services provided by the authorities.
Digital support, in other words support for conducting one’s affairs electronically and using electronic services and devices, is a key part of the concept for joint customer service points. Service points encourage customers to use electronic services and provide digital support for the public services provided in the service point.
In situations where a person needs more in-depth support, for example, using digital devices or using services other than the ones provided by public authorities, more demanding digital support will be provided in cooperation with national and regional digital support entities.
Shared offices are premises where the personnel of several difference authorities work in the same multipurpose facilities. Shared offices may have areas restricted to a single agency if certain tasks require (for example, due to data protection issues). There will also be areas reserved for work that requires quiet or concentration and areas for online meetings and telephone calls. Increasing the shared use of government premises will increase the flexibility of their use and make it easier to manage costs. Shared premises will increase encounters and interaction across organisational boundaries.
In the early stages of the renewal, offices will be mainly shared between the authorities working in them with some space reserved for occasional use by all public officials. In the vision for the future, offices will be as widely shared as possible, which will enable multi-location working.
The planning and implementation of the renewal of the central government’s service and premises network are proceeding on the national and regional levels.
On the national level, the concept for shared work environments, i.e. for joint customer service points and shared offices, has been drafted during 2021–2022. All of the government service providers involved in the project have participated in drafting the concept. The security and ICT concepts for shared work environments have been developed at the same time.
Regional planning and implementation began in three regions in the autumn of 2021: Päijät-Häme, North Karelia and South Karelia. The first joint customer service points and shared offices using the new concept will be implemented in these regions. The lessons from the first regional implementations and proposals for further development will be compiled in the first interim report of the service and premises renewal, which will be drawn up in the autumn of 2023.
Implementation will proceed in stages throughout the country in the 2020s. By 2030, Finland will have a new network of joint customer service points that has replaced the current network of authority-specific service points. The renewal of premises will also have been implemented by 2030 in accordance with the central government premises strategy.