Modern digital administration: More offers and services for citizens
German authorities increasingly rely on digital services. In future, citizens will be able to use all services via a central digital administration platform.
Registering a car, a new address after moving house or renewing your ID card – all of these official acts often involve a lot of work and tedious administrative procedures. If you are lucky, you might get an appointment quickly, but you could very well end up waiting for hours. This is all taking place in a time when food and clothes are bought online, accounts are opened on the net and invoices are sent electronically. But now the time has finally come to digitally transform Germany’s administrations at federal, federal-state and municipal level too. The aim is to create services that make having to visit public authorities a thing of the past.
An idea that is supported by the majority of people in Germany. According to the ‘Digital Government Barometer’ published by Sopra Steria in November 2019, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of those surveyed can basically imagine using all administrative services online. Around 60 percent feel that the existing eGovernment offering is too small.
Fear of data misuse in eGovernment
However, although a large majority of citizens are in favour of expanding government online services, there are also concerns. Around one in five express concern that their eGovernment data could fall into the wrong hands (23 percent) or be misused (20 percent). Security concerns are thus the most frequently mentioned arguments against using digital citizen services. What’s needed here is both transparent information on security standards and precautions to ensure that eGovernment offerings will in fact be used in the future. At the same time, simplicity and user-friendliness are desired. For example, around 40 percent of those surveyed by Sopra Steria are in favour of a central platform where they can view and process all administrative tasks.
And that’s where the planned Federal Portal comes in. As the German government’s central digitalization platform, it is designed to bundle all administrative services offered by federal, state and local governments. In doing so, the federal government is fulfilling its obligation under the Online Access Act. This act requires that the federal government and federal states provide electronic administration portals for private citizens and companies by 2022 and that all of these portals be interconnected within a portal network. A beta version is already online at www.beta.bund.de. At present, users can only obtain information there on topics such as child benefits or tax returns. This will change in the future when as many offices as possible will make their forms available here in digital form.
Tailored services – with security
Docking to the Federal Portal has two key advantages for public authorities: It will reduce their own administrative work and save money. Every municipal administration can dock onto the Federal Portal and offer its services there. Citizens can choose from a variety of online products.
The Federal Portal offers German and, in the future, all EU citizens numerous administrative services via a uniform portal. It provides direct access to information and services of the federal, federal-state and local governments. Citizens or businesses with a specific concern enter the administrative service they require and the location in question. The secure identification of persons and organizations provides the basis for all digital administration services. To this end, uniform national accounts are to be introduced for citizens and companies. Users will also be able to set up a user account for communication with the authorities themselves.
Fast exchange, outstanding security, minimum waiting time: While the Federal Portal may reduce face-to-face contact at the public administration office, it does in fact bring the administration closer to the people.