What is digital Government?
Digital Government or e-Government has become synonymous for a modern state.
Digital administration or e-Government involves simplifying information, communication and transaction processes within and between state institutions, as well as between the administration and citizens and businesses through the use of information and communication technologies. E-Government literally means "electronic government". However, the term e-Government has established itself worldwide as "the administration of government by means of electronic technology". In general, it stands for the simplification of work routines and processes through the application of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the areas of information, communication and transaction within and between state institutions as well as between the government and citizens or businesses.
Digital administration is also a lever to increase the transparency of government action, for example through open government data (OGD) initiatives, and to increase the democratic participation of citizens (e.g. through online petitions).
E-Government can only function efficiently when public authorities work closely together and cooperate inter-administratively. The existing infrastructure is shared. The advantage of the portal group concept is that many applications are available from a single entry point. The user’s identity only needs to be verified once in the portal. The technical term for requiring the user to sign in only once is called “single sign on (SSO)”.
E-Government encompasses all electronic public administration services that are available. Public authorities can make use of an electronic signature (Amtssignatur) or “seal” as official signature to sign contracts digitally.
Please read more about, how e-Government is organised in Austria, and the Coordinationboards Digital Administration.
The E-Government Act
is the core of Austrian laws on E-Government, entered into force on 1st of March 2004 and was last amended 2018. In between, there were different adjustment such as referring to the eIDAS Regulation.
This law serves as the legal basis for e-Government Public Online Services.
Please see further Information about Austrian laws in e-Government (in German).
The highest principles of E-Government law are:
- Freedom of choice in selecting the means of communication when contacting public authorities.
- Ensuring security and data protection through appropriate technical measures such as the citizen card.
- Accessibility measures for people with special needs in order to ensure the access to information and the use of digital services in the public administration. Thereby, international standards must be met and access to Internet sites must be provided.
"Once Only" principle: Public authorities are obligated, pursuant to their technical possibilities and in compliance with the requirements stipulated by law, to refer to the available data of the affected person from electronic registers. Thus, certain information (birth certificates, proof of citizenship and proof of residency or documents from the Commercial Register) no longer needs to be presented by the person concerned but can, with the person’s legal consent or with legal authorisation, be directly requested by the authority from an electronic register. The so-called administration Registers are the main basis for a variety of E-Government applications.
One-stop principle: In Austria, the principle of creating a single stop shop for citizens and businesses has prevailed. This can save unnecessary administrative channels and time. The initiated procedures are distributed internally to the competent authorities.
The Austrian E-Government strategy is based on the additional important principles:
The government and administration needs to be accessible for the citizens. Online services need to be easy to find, to use and available at all times.
Online procedures need to make life simpler and more convenient for citizens: no opening hours or waiting in lines, but uncomplicated procedures and forms that can be filled out intuitively. Optimally, these forms are pre-filled with the necessary information.
Citizens have to be able to trust electronic processes of public authorities. Therefore, they have to be able to determine that electronic versions of official documents were sent properly and unaltered by the respective authority. Public authorities can verify that documents received from citizens have originally been sent from the indicated person.
Innovations can only be successful and accepted when all people concerned are in fact involved in the development process. Moreover, the process needs to be transparent.
Public authority services must be accessible to everyone without discrimination
The range of electronic services offered needs to be organised in an easily comprehensible, clear and straightforward manner. In order to gain acceptance and approval from users, forms and portals need to have a consistent design. Navigation and menu guides need to be structured in an intuitive and logical way.
Data protection is a fundamental right. Citizens attach great value on the protection of their privacy. Therefore, public administration employees have merely access to personal data from administrative areas for which they are authorised.
In order for E-Government to function best, all administrative levels work together seamlessly. Existing applications and infrastructures need to work together to achieve the desired level of efficiency. Therefore, cooperation is necessary for E-Government to run in an efficient manner organisationally, financially and administratively.
E-Government is modularly structured and therefore, allows new components to be integrated immediately into the system in order to keep up with the latest technology. A modular structure offers more than just sustainability; it also increases Austria’s competitiveness in the market and strengthens its business location.
Technically different systems need to be able to communicate with each other. Therefore, E-Government solutions are only developed by using internationally recognized standards and open interfaces.
Due to the rapid pace of updating und further developing systems, solutions and devices, E-Government needs to be open to new developments rather than making use of one particular type of technology.
The Austrian E-Government ensures the best possible positioning of Austria in the European and international environment. The Austrian E-Government solutions take their international applicability into consideration right from the outset. Austria contributes actively to European developments and consciously orients the Austrian strategy towards the joint European objectives (e.g. Digital Agenda, E-Government action plan, E-Government minister declarations).
Digitalisation and e-Government: firstname.lastname@example.org