The once-only principle (OOP) needs to be seen in the context of public sector digitalisation. It means that citizens and businesses provide diverse data only once in contact with public administrations, while public administration bodies take actions to internally share and reuse these data – even across borders – always in respect of data protection regulations and other constraints.

The concept of the OOP focuses on reducing administrative burden for individuals and businesses by re-organising public sector internal processes, instead of making citizens and business users adjust to existing procedures.

So far, many European Union countries have started to implement the once-only principle at a national level, while its cross-border implementation is still fragmented and limited to a very few services. In view of its contribution to the realisation of the Digital Single Market in Europe, the European Commission is strongly promoting the implementation of the OOP across borders. Therefore, once-only is one of the underlying principles stated in the European Union’s “eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020” and is part of several initiatives related to the European Digital Single Market.

Currently, there are two EU projects related to the OOP – SCOOP4C and TOOP:

  • SCOOP4C puts its efforts on the citizens dimension of the OOP. The overall aim of the project is to investigate, discuss, and disseminate how co-creation and co-production in public service provisioning for citizens can be achieved by implementing the once-only principle.
  • TOOP aims to explore and demonstrate the once-only principle across borders while focusing on data from businesses. Doing this, TOOP wants to enable better exchange of business related data or documents with and between public administrations and reduce administrative burden for both businesses and public administrations.