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September 12th 2022

How is the digitization of administration progressing?

Foto: Bitkom

“In my view what we need is not less federalism, but more cooperation and a joint commitment at the various levels of public administrations“, says Marc Danneberg, divisional head, Public Sector at Bitkom e.V. In an interview with Innovative Verwaltung, Danneberg talks about the immense challenges that public administrations face, where things stand with the Online Access Act, and funding for the digital transformation of public administrations.

From piles of folders to cloud solutions – what makes digitalising public administrations so demanding?

“Certainly, one of the big challenges is comprehensive digitalisation“, says Danneberg. The idea is not to introduce a new system but to alter work processes, leadership and how people work together. Many partners at municipal level are grateful for common standards and not to have to develop everything themselves, says Danneberg. However, it also means that not every outlier can be represented and not every process can be mirrored one-to-one.

Digitalisation projects are also always large-scale federal projects, he says. It means individual actors cannot move forward with these projects on their own. A great deal of dependency exists and a lot of networking takes place between individual levels – digitalisation cannot be achieved without a common goal.

A common goal and lots of networks – how can that go hand in hand with German federalism?

“Germany’s federal system has always worked well“, says Danneberg. In his view what is needed is not less federalism, but more cooperation and a joint commitment at the various levels of public administrations. Decision-making could be speeded up overall – for example by introducing majority rather than unanimous approval.

Holding out for the Online Access Act – will it take effect by the end of the year?

“We are a long way from 572 public services all being available online in Germany“, says Danneberg, summarising events. Nevertheless, the Online Access Act has succeeded in making digitalisation of public administrations a headline policy issue. It is right to above all offer frequently used services online. “Overall, the Online Access Act is of course only the beginning of the digital transformation of public administrations“, says Danneberg. For people to be able to conduct their administrative activities online is only a milestone along the way. The processes leading up to that must also be digitalised. “We still have lots of work to do.”

What does the digital transformation of public administrations mean for smart cities?

“What characterises smart city concepts above all is the intelligent networking of various areas of public life. However, that can only work if public administrations function online, are networked accordingly and drive forward change”, says Danneberg.

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