The Interior Ministry’s plan to cut the budget for online official channels by 99 percent is met with incomprehension by many. The eco Association of the Internet Industry sees the digital location at risk. “Germany will definitely not succeed in catching up on digitization with stingy and cuts,” says eco CEO Oliver Süme. A “sustainable signal in the direction of ‘priority for digitization'” is necessary, as this offers “immense increases in efficiency and cost savings for administration, business and society”. The federal, state and local governments have a role model function.
Süme recommends that the necessary expenditure must be “targeted and quick”. This applies in particular to the Online Access Act (OZG) for the development of digital offers, the modernization of registers and digital identities as a lever for state capacity to act and innovation. In all three areas, the Federal Ministry of the Interior wants to make massive cuts. “Anyone who saves on digitization of all things saves in the completely wrong place,” emphasizes Ralf Wintergerst, President of the IT association Bitkom, to the FAZ. “Investments in Germany’s competitiveness and future viability” are at stake.
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Databund, which represents medium-sized IT service providers and software manufacturers for the public sector, criticizes that the “short-sighted action” will increase Germany’s relapse compared to other countries. Unfortunately, the federal government’s digitization efforts, which have been backed by considerable financial resources, have been neither sustainable nor efficient: “Money does not digitize administrative processes – only specialist knowledge and expertise can actually achieve the goal of digitization.” In view of the lack of budgets, the federal government must therefore reflect on its core tasks, including the creation of optimal legal framework conditions “under which the economy can develop solutions and the municipalities can use them economically”. The legal solution to the authentication problem even without an online ID would be a big step.
Contrary to the recommendation of the experts
The interior department “really made the wrong decision here,” regretted the chairwoman of the expert council for the assessment of overall economic development, Monika Schnitzer, on ZDF: “We recommended that differently.” The state should use digitization to speed up administrative procedures. Irene Bertschek, head of the Digital Economy research department at the Leibniz Center for European Economic Research (ZEW), complains that the federal government is still not giving digital public administration the necessary importance.
A lot of money has already flowed into the OZG implementation, which is to be reduced by more than 99 percent. In 2021 and 2022, more than one billion euros were available from the Corona stimulus package. Still, little has happened. The funds were already reduced significantly in 2024, to 377 million euros. Only 3.3 million are planned for 2024.
The planned OZG 2.0 provides that in future the individual departments will take care of the financing of their relevant e-government services. There are also protests against the reduction of the BMI budget for the expansion of digital sovereignty from 48 million to 25 million euros. The head of the Kiel State Chancellery, Dirk Schrödter (CDU), is bothered by the fact that the federal government – instead of relying on open source – concludes “framework agreements with large technology providers worth billions”.
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