e-Government for Better Civil Services: How the Korean Government Implemented the e-Registration System

To download and read this case study, by Ji Woong Yoon, click here.  

To read a condensed delivery note on the E-RRS system, prepared by Jacob Bathanti, click here.


A National ID is called a “Resident ID” in Korea. The system is called the resident registration system because the system is based on a resident’s address where the local government is in charge. This act requires each citizen to register his/her personal information and provides a unique ID number that cannot be changed. Under this act, each household is obligated to register with the local administration and provide moving-in data when it moves to a new house. The National e-Government Development Program was launched to construct an e-RRS from 1992 to early 2000s. However, for the first decade of the program, the e-RRS was used by each organization separately due to the lack of inter-organizational coordination for information sharing. For this reason, it had minimal impact on provision of civil services, despite its goal of ensuring more efficient service provision and reducing the number of administrative processes and the quantity of paperwork necessary for citizens to access civil services and retrieve personal data ranging from passport renewal and birth certificates to change of address forms.

Development Challenge

With the advent of e-government, national identification systems have become more prominent as the basis for effective delivery of civil services. The activities of the newly launched committee and the center established enhanced the level of information sharing, leading to higher efficiency in the provisions of civil services and proving that a system for information sharing was critical in providing efficient civil services by using e-RRS.

Delivery Challenges

  • Inter- and Intra-Governmental Relations

A major reason was that each ministry narrowly regulated the range of shared administrative information among the ministries and agencies, so that citizens and government officials did not feel the difference between the existing process of accessing services and the new e-RRS based services (Kim et al. 2007). There was no incentive for the ministries to share information in order to provide civil services. Officials in each ministry went through duplicated processes as the hard copy attachments were still required for the petition, and the citizens had to visit the local government office to get the documents or to receive the documents for processing the services (Hwang et al. 2007).

Lessons Learned

  • Strong Political Support for a Robust Coordinating Mechanism is Crucial

The Korean Public Information Sharing Promotion Committee, supported by the president, was established in 2005 with a mandate to make different organizations use e-RSS to coordinate among themselves. Each sub-committee had a mission to enable public information sharing policy, such as changing laws and procedures, providing training and education, reducing documents, and setting up systems.

  • Purposeful Efforts to Overcome Resistance to Change in Procedures are Crucial to Enact Meaningful Change

The Korean government established the Public Information Sharing Center, which facilitated each ministry in changing existing administrative procedures and rules of doing business by using e-RRS. This center worked as a third party agent for linking the information via e-RRS among ministries and government organizations.