Case Study

How Estonia uses proactive services to move toward a seamless society

Proactive government services aim to make easy, convenient, and efficient public services available for citizens to save them time and resources, but most importantly, to create a state that keeps citizens’ needs at its very core. Estonia, a country widely regarded as a truly digital society, made yet another innovative leap at the end of 2019 by launching proactive family and parental benefits, moving toward a new proactive governance model.

Rethinking digitalization

Innovation in government services is not simply moving its services online but foreseeing its citizens’ needs and providing support throughout key events in their lives, whether it is the birth of a child, purchasing a home, or retirement. This presumes an active role from the state, requiring a redesign of reactive government processes into event-based services. The new method significantly simplifies citizens’ lives by turning burdensome bureaucracy into a seamless user experience and proactive aid to those in need.



The main challenge with reactive public services is that citizens need to contact the state to determine the rights and benefits to which they are entitled. Often, this requires visiting a government office, examining voluminous information, and submitting numerous agency applications. Meanwhile, the citizens most in need of government support are also the most at risk if required to manage these complexities.



  1. When a child is born, the entry made in the population register will activate all follow-on services without the parents having to apply. The proposal directs the parent to a self-service portal where they can accept the offer with the click of a button.
  2. The parents are informed of the benefits they are entitled to, the sum they are entitled to, the calculations their benefits are based on, when the benefits are paid out, and what they should do next.
  3. To allow this, an automated system based on complex algorithms operates in the background. This system supports a comprehensive data analysis, comprising more than 80 unique conditions to consider, which creates detailed information concerning who is eligible for benefits and in what amount. When family conditions change, the system validates data via various registers to approve the benefits and the entitled sums.
  4. Furthermore, Estonian digital services are based on the once-only principle, meaning that the government can ask citizens for their information only once. When needed, the same information can be requested by other public administration offices via secure data exchange.

Proactive services, thus, utilize the databases and registries that already hold extensive information about citizens. When the proposal for benefits is sent proactively, all the data is collected from these databases, making it unnecessary for the citizen to provide that same information repeatedly. Once a country defines the problem and identifies the target group, it can quickly deliver benefits to those in need.

customer satisfaction with the proactive public service
reduction in direct customer contacts per month for state officials
of registered births are checked automatically to determine eligibility for parental benefits


Furthermore, due to proactive services, state officials have more resources to direct their efforts into providing quality service and information to citizens. When automated processes take care of most of the standard cases, state officials have more time to pay attention to special cases. For example, when people eligible for benefits would not apply, whether by lack of awareness or other reasons, thereby reducing the number of non-take-up cases.


However, what is unique about proactive public services, in addition to their seamless user experience, is the matter of social justice. Proactive public services help ensure government policies are effective and reach the people for whom they are intended.

Finally, the proactive service increasingly optimizes costs, generates higher added value, and significantly increases citizens’ satisfaction.

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