eGovernment: Faeser wants to boost digital administration – MPs dissatisfied
In the future, citizens should be able to use more services from authorities online – but the draft by Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) for a new law on the digitization of administration does not set a deadline for implementation. This is now calling the coalition partners Greens and FDP onto the scene.
“The proposals contained in the current draft for the Online Access Act 2.0 point in the right direction – but I see a clear need for improvement in two places,” said domestic politician Misbah Khan (Greens) of the German Press Agency.
No implementation period in new plans
It is not good that the draft that has now been submitted no longer mentions an implementation period. The Greens member of the Bundestag emphasized: “But we need pressure on the responsible actors in the federal, state and local governments, without which we will not make progress quickly enough.” According to her, a legal entitlement to online access to administrative services from a certain point in time would be conceivable, for example. This would make the responsible actors more responsible. There would be legal certainty for citizens and companies, but also for the government agencies entrusted with implementation.
The FDP digital expert Volker Redder does not believe in a general deadline by which all important services – from child benefit to the building application – must be available online. In his view, however, this would be necessary for individual services. Redder he told the dpa: “I don’t want a toothless deadline in an online access law 2.0. I want to talk specifically about which services must be available to citizens by when.” Sanctions are also needed for this. It must “hurt” if the public sector does not fulfill its digitization obligations.
Commitment to digitized services
The federal and state governments had five years to digitize their services. The Online Access Act (OZG), which was passed by the Bundestag in August 2017, should serve this purpose. It gave countries until the end of 2022 to offer all 575 administrative services online. But the target was missed by far. In order to advance digitization, the OZG 2.0 should now remedy the situation. The Interior Ministry’s draft envisages a deletion of the “OZG implementation period in favor of a focus and accompanying evaluation that is still to be regulated”.
So that applications no longer have to be signed on paper, the online identity card is to be used in a “citizen account” through which communication between private individuals and the administration is processed. It should be different for companies. Your user accounts are called “Organizational Accounts”. The Elster certificate, which is required for online identification at the tax office, should serve as a substitute for the signature.
Electronic identity card as “innovative technology”
For Misbah Khan, the online function of the ID card is proof that “we in Germany are quite capable of developing innovative technology.” The fact that many people have not yet used this option, which also meets high standards in terms of data protection law, is also due to the fact that there are not yet many administrative services for which it can be used. In addition, it was not properly advertised.
According to information from the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the online ID card was activated for an estimated 51.2 million ID cards by the end of 2021. In 2022, this function was used on average for at least around 5.32 million processes.
The use of the citizen account should be voluntary for users. In order to avoid confusion and to provide users with an application from a single source, the draft states: “Other state-owned citizen accounts are not permitted in the portal network.”
Khan’s second point of criticism: The draft does not focus enough on the fact that the applications, which are developed according to the one-for-all principle by individual federal states, are based on open source code. But that is a prerequisite for them being reusable and changeable for other countries free of charge.
The new law can also only be a building block “so that Germany can catch up with its digitization deficit”. Without a reorganization of responsibilities it will not work. “We have to achieve greater centralization in digitization,” says Redder. There are still “too many actors who have a say and thus extremely slow down the process”.
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