Public authorities and IT service providers cautious about digitization progress
- Hampered by the shortage of skilled workers and federal structures
- Complex award procedures for cooperation with IT service providers
- Larger administration organizations with large leads
Detecon Study: "Shaping the Future: Success Factors for Digitization in Public Administration"
Cologne, September 13, 2023. Both public administrations and their IT service providers continue to be cautious in their assessment of their own digitalization progress. Although the need for digitalization is generally acknowledged, processes are faltering at a multitude of points. These are the key findings of the study “Success Factors for the Digitization of Public Administration” conducted by the management consultancy Detecon. When asked about the major challenges, study respondents in public administration name first and foremost the shortage of skilled workers (82 percent), followed by obstacles presented by federal structures (73 percent). The IT service providers, on the other hand, see hurdles primarily in the creation of a jointly usable infrastructure cutting across the boundaries between authorities (75 percent) and cyber and data security (74 percent). The shortage of skilled workers and subsequent use of software developments that are available in principle are noted equally as the third factor (72 percent).
Detecon and the market research company 2HMforum interviewed both responsible (IT) decision-makers from public administration (100 people) and managers (33 people) from IT service providers who work primarily for public administration. Three-quarters of the respondents were from the municipal level, around one-fifth from the state level, and four percent from the federal level. The study sheds light on the current status of administrative digitalization and offers recommendations for action to realize digitalization successfully.
Award procedure too complicated
When describing the cooperation with external IT service providers, 42 percent of the respondents in public administration see an obstacle in the complicated and lengthy award procedures. On the IT service provider side, the figure was even higher — 55 percent see this as an obstacle. The requirements of the OZG [Online Access Act] to fully digitalize all services by the end of 2022 were clearly not fulfilled. On average, just 29 percent of OZG services have been converted to digital. It is also sobering that only 53 percent of the respondents from public administrations declare that they have the necessary software, hardware, and IT infrastructure to master digitalization in general.
“It appears that the preparatory processes such as those required for IT installation planning have not yet been optimally established,” is how Elisabeth Schulze-Hulitz, one of the study authors from Detecon, assesses the situation. “Nevertheless, the majority of administrations are evidently making progress and hoping for positive digitalization effects. In view of the study results, more detailed clarification of the framework conditions in the administrations is recommended. Are the responsibilities for achievement of end-to-end digitalization well defined? Has the allocation of budgets — including long-term financing — been set up?” Elisabeth Schulze-Hulitz advises securing answers to these questions. “Moreover, it is imperative that IT contracting and procurement be strengthened by the acquisition of skills and by simplification.”
Advantages from digitalized processes
According to the survey, 94 percent of administrations hope that digitalized processes will speed up the processing of requests, improve the availability of information, and increase citizen satisfaction. Only one-third of respondents see increased employer attractiveness and financial savings as results of digitalization. In contrast, IT service providers also expect strong positive effects for the latter points from the digitalization of the public sector.
In general, the study results indicate that larger organizations are in the lead in almost all categories when it comes to digitalization. This discrepancy is most starkly evident when the question about the existence of a digitalization strategy is asked; in this case, larger administrations have a lead of 25 percentage points (60 to 35 percent). “This may also be a reason for these big leads. A jointly supported clear strategy enables the rapid implementation of further digitization topics,” presumes Elisabeth Schulze-Hulitz. “Intercommunal cooperation and a digital mindset throughout the administration are good prerequisites for digitalization success.”