fortiss short study

How digitalization succeeds in public administration

Public administration in Germany is facing significant challenges, as the digital transformation is intensifying the pressure to make progress in the digitalization of administrative services. At the same time, citizens' expectations of easily accessible and uncomplicated services are increasing. The short study "Government as a Platform in Germany" recently published by the National E-Government Competence Center (NEGZ) provides in-depth approaches to solutions. The authors of the study are the two fortiss researchers Peter Kuhn and Dian Balta from the Platform Engineering competence field.
Short study Government as a Platform in Germany
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Due to the current situation, the topic of digital administration is once again gaining momentum in the public eye. At the Digital Summit 2023, which took place on November 20 and 21, 2023 under the motto “Digital transformation at the turn of an era. Sustainable. Resilient. Future-oriented.” in Jena, Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck underlined that there were still major deficits in the digitalization of administration in Germany. The federal government now wants to speed up the reduction of bureaucracy, the acceleration of planning procedures and the digitalization of administration.

Solutions across federal borders

In the context of the digitalization of public administration in Germany, a crucial task is to ensure nationwide integration. This "going nationwide" requires the linking of IT systems across the borders of the federal states. One example of this is the so-called "one-for-all" (EfA) services: As part of the implementation of the Online Access Act (OZG), application data recorded in an online service of one federal state is to be seamlessly transferred to the specialist procedure of another federal state. However, due to federal structures and the departmental principle, there are numerous technical and organizational hurdles to this link. The short study by the two fortiss researchers deals with the question of how these obstacles in German e-government can be sustainably reduced.

Similar to highways, a centrally designed IT infrastructure could simplify complex processes in the digitalization of administration. Such an infrastructure, also known as a "data highway", would serve as a technical link between IT systems and thus facilitate nationwide integration. Existing building blocks such as BundID, ePayBL and FIT-Connect already represent basic components for such an infrastructure. However, a look at other European countries makes it clear that a comprehensive blueprint and effective governance are needed to bring together the existing components in Germany into a functioning overall solution.

A strong concept for digital administration

The short study was developed as part of the fortiss research project Government as a Platform Engineering (GaaPEng). The project dealt with the potential of platform approaches for German administrative digitalization with a focus on the implementation of the Online Access Act (OZG). In "Government as a Platform in Germany - Study on the use of the potential of platform structures and principles in German administrative digitization," fortiss experts Balta and Kuhn present four recommendations for the design of such a "federal e-government infrastructure". In order to drive forward the digitalization of the administration, an explicit and comprehensive definition of the infrastructure is first required. At the same time, roles need to be clearly assigned and mandated, particularly with regard to the infrastructure owner. In addition, an opening is necessary in order to promote an innovative e-government ecosystem. The systematic development of platform know-how is crucial here.

In order to create the basis for successful eGovernment in Germany, the four recommendations for action should be consistently pursued within the framework of a clear political mandate In addition, fortiss scientist Peter Kuhn recommends that "Germany must once again focus intensively and first and foremost on the infrastructure so that - as with the EfA approach - even more online applications are not created that cannot be brought to the surface."

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