Review of the expert meeting on digital government in the German Bundestag

Expert hearing in the German Parliament on June 21, 2017

“Modern State – Opportunities Through Digitization”

Written statement provided by Prof. Dr. Ines Mergel, University of Konstanz, Germany


1.  In the process of digitization, it is important that state and administration modernize their exercise of functions and fully utilize the opportunities of digitization. What, in your view, is the present state of administrative modernization and where is the potential of digitization being used in what manner? What are the success stories in Germany? What past successes can we build on?

The level of administrative modernization and digitization of the public administration in Germany is continuously declining in recent years. While legislative measures, such as the Digital Agenda, privacy policies, or investments in broadband services are being advanced, it is difficult for the German administration to improve in the e-government rankings. In a global comparison, Germany was placed at number 17 in 2011 and fell in the United Nations World e-Government Ranking four places to No. 21 in 2014. Compared to the rest of Europe, Germany occupies the 20th place in the field of digital service offerings according to the 2017 DESI ranking. In comparison, the leading e-government countries, such as Estonia and Denmark, began their digital transformation of the public administration 10 years ago.

Reasons for this are manifold. A McKinsey study to “E-Government in Germany – a Citizens’ Perspective” from 2015 shows, that the use of existing e-government services has stagnated since public administration digital services are not user friendly from a citizen’s perspective. According to the 2016 DESI study, only 19% of Germans use the online offerings of the public administration. This means that investment in e-government services fizzle out and bring no added value for citizens.

Using private online services, such as in banking or online shopping (Amazon, etc.) and even their local savings bank, citizens are used to a better and faster service with 24/7 availability. Digital transactions happen securely and transparently. The digital transformation that has been successfully implemented in most other areas of life and has become normality for customers in the private sector, stops in the citizens’ experience with public administration. For example, it is often cumbersome to find information on the websites of the administration, since online offers were designed from the internal logic of the administration without considering the usage and search behavior of citizens and their needs. Citizens, for example, are forced to download forms in non-editable PDF format to then print, fill out by hand, and then physically deliver them to an administration building in order to file an application. This means that the administrative burden of the administrative act is unloaded on the shoulders of citizens under the disguise of e-government, without realizing the potential of digitization. In times of high dissatisfaction and disenchantment with politics, this is another factor why citizens lose confidence in the administration.

Success stories in Germany relate to selected isolated solutions that are strongly linked to local innovators. However, it is not comprehensible yet whether they are institutionalized or, for example, will disappear with a change in political leadership. Few of the previous solutions have led to fundamental disruptive performance that felt worthy of emulation to other administrations. Reasons for this lie in the already mentioned design of the online services from the logic of internal management processes that evidently were not implemented with the help of user experience experts or with the help of public officials that have a deep administrative scientific understanding as well as IT- knowledge that can help with the transformation into functioning online processes. Moreover, these “beacons” or isolated solutions are not emulated a lot because of their local nature and therefore stay (short-term) achievements.

A change of management training is necessary to combine administrative scientific knowledge with IT skills to achieve digital transformation. From: Why are we allowed to do what in public administration and how? To: How can we optimize online experiences together with administrative acts so that citizens can take advantage of the public services in a simple and straightforward manner?

2. By creating numerous laws in this term (e.g., the Open Data Act, the eID law and the constitutional amendment establishing new rules on federal-state financial relations) and with the government program “Digital Government 2020”, the German Bundestag has created options to make the public administration a partner for citizens, start-ups and SMEs. What other suggestions do you have? How can civil society be involved in this process? What recommendations do you have to help these initiatives to succeed?

Many of the laws mentioned go in the right direction and set the course for future innovations. However, an eID is only useful if it can also be used in conjunction with other offers of the administration and the private sector: Citizens have an average of 1.7 interactions per year with the public administration. That means, it is unacceptable and costly for citizens to invest in additional technological infrastructure if they hardly use it throughout the year. If the eID has other functions, such as a bank card, health insurance card or universal health card recognized across the EU by doctors and pharmacies abroad, library card, student card, tax office ID for tax returns, electronic parking permit, and other payment functions, then it will find the same acceptance that can be seen in other countries such as Denmark and Estonia. Therefor a radical rethink in the implementation is necessary. Denmark is such a case where all the technological hurdles where removed through a simple paper card and the cost of using it lies solely with the state. In Estonia, the costs and the training of the citizens were taken over by the banks.

A common data infrastructure needs to be developed in cooperation with all levels of public authority for legislative initiatives to be implemented. For this, it is necessary to develop a start-up culture in the public service to break up the risk-averse behavior of the administration and to allow for innovative thinking. The idea is not to bring this about by law and it cannot be implemented from one day to the next. Instead, it is necessary to create an institution such as the already considered digital agency along the lines of 18F and the US Digital Service, The UK Government Digital Service, the Denmark digitization agency, or the e-Estonia-Team in Estonia. All these digital service teams are outside the existing bureaucratic structures, commissioned to devise disruptive digitization offers without having existing concerns and laws limit them in their ability to innovate. However, these teams never work in a vacuum in their international context, but in close cooperation with representatives of the public administration. They recruit IT talent from (former) digital start-ups, such as Google, Pixar, Twitter, TurboTax, or nonprofits. Innovative HR policies allow the teams to bring knowledge in successful digital transformation to the public administration rapidly, as well as initiate and implement change in IT software procurement and cultural changes in the design processes.

3. What main features should coherent Open and e-government strategies have for the next legislative period? How, in your view, can the process of digitization be advanced in Germany, thereby raising the potential of digitization for the administration and for the citizens faster?

The most important first step in implementing the above mentioned strategies is to determine for and with the administration why open government and e-government are necessary. While the benefits to citizens are obvious (higher transparency of administrative action, faster handling of administrative transactions; not being bound to a specific time or place), the benefit to the administration itself is unclear and it is often perceived as a burden. To not let the experience between private online resources and public administration continue to drift apart, the public administration should endeavor to consider what services could usefully be provided online: Which services need no human discretion and what services do not call for bureaucratic discretion? These include public services in many areas of life that can be unified and automated with the help of artificial intelligence without compromising the sovereignty of the provision of services. What data is already public by law, but must be confirmed by agencies and then provided in individualized manner? These examples of automation of administrative processes should be an important driving power of the introduction of e-government and open government for the public administration.

At the same time, the public administration must also consider which opportunities arise for the institution itself. An Open Data platform should not constitute an end in itself to check legal provisions and leave its use entirely to civil society. As a result, previously developed apps can only be called low hanging fruit. It is much more important that policy – and management-related information from the provision of open data can be determined: What is the performance of public administration compared with other administrations? Where can room for improvement be identified or taxes be saved due to non-use? Where can management learn from each other and replicate successes to further avoid isolated applications? Again, the burden of the visualization and evaluation mustn’t be imposed on individual citizens or citizens’ representatives, but should be seen as a proactive service and potential of the administration.

The involvement of civil society is useful when there is either a complex problem that the administration cannot solve alone (so-called ‘Wicked problems’) or when it comes to creative add-ons that do not belong to the core function of government. In other countries, Open innovation approaches and Open Collaboration Approaches emerged as important instruments. The US federal administration has set up a central platform (, that can be used by all federal agencies to bring innovations from non-professional problem solvers into the administration with the help of competitions and reward them with monetary prizes. Thereby not only ‘frequent flyers’, whose voices are always heard, are being addressed, but also the parts of the population that are often not integrated in direct participation processes.

4. What are the short, medium and long-term effects of digitization in terms of the state-citizen relationship? What expectations do citizens have and what expectations cannot be met by the state? What considerations will be relevant in the future? What structural changes could the administration encounter?

In Germany, the digital divide between the mainly analog administration and the online environment of citizens and corporations is increasing. Other actors try to plug these holes and become more and more relevant to citizens to the point that external service providers take over tasks of public administration, since they can operate more efficiently. The digital records and information that is generated by digitally operating volunteers through Crowdsourcing-Processes, often is more accurate than the data carefully provided by the public administration after a long time for processing. This applies to everyday life situations, such as parking space utilization in cities, but also for emergency situations such as terrorist attacks or other emergencies and disasters. Virtual Set Operation Support Team (VOSTs) ensure that online information is checked, fake news is sorted out and corrected, and the information gap between official press conferences and still-developing emergencies be bridged so that citizens may understand the state of affairs in a timely manner or even in real- time. In the U.S., this shift in information generation from the authorities to the citizens even led scientifically-oriented agencies such as the US Geological Service, to rely on civil judgments in crisis situations, combining their Twitter News on locally perceived effects of an earthquake with its own scientific calculations and then adjusting the decision making and government responses. These examples mainly point to administrative failure and inability to adapt to the changing needs of citizens, that do not operate in a 9-to-5 workday like representatives of public authorities. In the state-citizen ratio that means that citizens will always trust online resources more than the official and formal statements of the public administration.

The expectation of citizens will increasingly focus on national security, which mainly includes the digital security in addition to physical security. Although the Wanna-Cry cyber attack was interpreted politically as a success, it is clear that many of the affected organizations were not prepared for the attack. The outdated ‘legacy’ IT needs to be completely modernized to create secure data and service infrastructure. This can be done through block chain, or by the acquisition of the already proven and successfully tested X-Road infrastructure of the Estonian government. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel or to follow a 100% German way.

5. What opportunities does the constitutional amendment establishing new rules on federal-state financial relations for comprehensive IT solutions in the administration open up? How do you rate the online access law in this context? What projects do you think are the most important or urgent here?

The issue remains: How can new laws lead to innovations in public administration when the previous legislation was designed to reduce administrative experiments and unusual behavior of the administration (for good reason)? Denmark is a good model for the implementation of a cross-level digital government: Rather than prescribing innovation by law, there is the principle across all three administrative levels to collaboratively a) finance, and b) implement e-government jointly. Thus, the responsibility, but also the motivation is distributed across all levels and e-government innovations are implemented together. As a result of the monetary and substantive participation, the silo mentality of both the national authorities and the administrative levels is overcome and they work together in consensus.

The new federal portal appears to be an instrument that works across all levels to provide unified access to public administration services. However, it seems to have been overlooked that services citizens take advantage of are for the most part local in nature. Moreover, online research does not launch through bookmark (if the federal portal is known at all) but through a search engine such as Google, which provides direct local results in an aggregated format in fractions of a second. Therefore, a federal portal adds several search steps and clicks compared to a direct Google search, however, does not seem to provide any added value for citizens at the time. A positive aspect is, that for the first time an attempt has been implemented to overcome the barriers to innovation originating from federalism. For the benefit of citizens, it would be important to implement the exchange of data between administrative levels. This does not necessarily have to happen through a standardization of existing records, but the establishment of interfaces to ensure interoperability.

What is less important here is to operate with laws in advance, instead, it would be better to agree on e-government principles voluntarily, such as the once-only principle in setting up a citizen account. This means the citizen enters his data once and access and use of data on explicit request, as it is the case in Estonia. Once an authority or a journalist is trying to get access to data, the citizen is informed and can decide what data can be used. However, no privacy loss or weakening of data protection needs to be worried about through the application of the once-only principle according to § 5 (2) EGovG if it is executed correctly: The public administration is given responsibility for data security, but the control regarding the content when data is accessed must remain with the individual citizen. Thereby cost-cutting and productivity potentials are realized on the part of management, and a high gain in confidence concerning the functioning of the administration can be secured on the side of citizens.


6. In your opinion, what steps should the federal government take to manage more bureaucracy relief using digital technologies (e.g. by further reducing the written form requirements and regulations for personal audition)? What administrative and organizational steps are necessary for a cultural change in the administration to a modern e-government (IT Planning, Commissioner of the Federal Government for the implementation of Open and e-government strategies; federal consultancy centers for open and E-Government that state and local governments can turn to in advance of the implementation of open and e-government services, etc.)?

A bureaucracy relief using digital technologies is possible only through a comprehensive decision to use the full potential of new technologies. A decision must be made to abolish the written form requirements and to make any correspondence and payments a) with the private sector, and b) with private citizens electronic. For this, an albeit short transitional period must be taken into account to facilitate the conversion. Exceptions can be made, but only with the help of extensive explanations on the part of the public administration for example, which must have the obligation to state precise reasons why an electronic processing is not possible in an extreme case. In Denmark, the compulsion for the economy regarding e-invoicing was first introduced on 1.2.2005, to simultaneously make the private organizations more competitive in comparison with analogous operating organizations. For smaller organizations, such as start-ups that do not yet have the resources to invest in ERP systems, an e-invoicing tool has been set up on the Business Authority website, so that the hurdles remain low for all market participants.

In Denmark, this push came from all levels of government (state secretaries, representatives of regions and municipalities) together – not because of new legislation or driven by politics. The driver was to eliminate the identified weaknesses of public administration together and to create consensus in advance. The negotiation was handed over to the Ministry of Finance in 2001, which is also responsible for the reformation and modernization of the public sector in order to guarantee financial incentives for the participation of regions and municipalities in the digital transformation. As citizens mainly use local public services, cooperation at regional and local level is essential: This is why in Denmark, an opt-in option was offered to the representatives of the local level at first and the risk of financial participation was only shared when the e- Government solution was successfully implemented and accepted by the citizens. An example of the impact of a broad consensus solution is the introduction and acceptance of eID in Denmark where there is no eID law, but a voluntary co-funded technological infrastructure, which was adopted enthusiastically by citizens. Through the public success the pressure for all nonparticipants to accept and implement the eID increases. The focus of implementation in Denmark has therefore been on initially generating the potential uses and hence creating broad readiness to implement, rather than a perfect technological and legal infrastructure that has emerged only from the internal logic of the administration.

A cultural change in the public administration also needs incentives: In the same way the regulatory control council is responsible for bureaucracy reduction regarding new laws, a central digital agency should be responsible for checking e-government investments in terms of what public value they contribute to service provision. The regulatory control council and the Digital Agency should work hand in hand here and enable a start-up culture in public administration for the implementation of e-government projects that aims to radically pursue management innovation. Best-Practices Centers were supposed to recruit start-ups in the states. Similar to this there should be Show-and-Tell-Centers in the public administration that can help show a) how to overcome bureaucratic hurdles in e-government projects and b) to what extent possibilities of digital transformation were already successful in other areas, so that each state can contribute to a joint innovation lab. This can help to ensure that states and local governments implement innovations and translate already existing solutions into their own context.

For citizens the introduction of the e-file in this way is an important step – if it remains consistently linked to the digital signature to consistently implement the cost savings and bureaucracy relief potential.

7. How can the trust of users be increased (effective and innovative data protection; data and IT security; consistent use of continuous end-to-end encryption for all large-scale IT projects, etc.)? What are the conditions for success for a high level of acceptance of a successful eID offer by the federal government?

The eID offer must be designed from a user perspective and not from the internal logic of the public administration. This means that the technical as well as the financial overhead may not be shifted onto the shoulders of citizens while the added value is not evident. As an example: In a non-representative survey of my +300 first semesters in the lecture “Introduction to Management Science”, I asked how many of the students have the new ID card (Answer: all). When I asked how many of them activated the online apps, the answer was no one. This example shows that even the so-called digital natives who grew up with apps and online interactions, do not see any added value in an online interaction with the public administration.

In addition to the technological data protection measures mentioned in the question, it is necessary for the citizens and for the government to be able to comprehend the added value and actual benefits. In Denmark for example, this additional benefit was made tangible with other digital services for citizens: A mandatory digital bank account is necessary to receive payments by public authorities, which has led to high cost savings in the administration. Since private companies had similar needs in the interactions with citizens, a value in excess of the single transaction was generated. In Estonia, a similar push has taken place through the banks that have already deployed a secure infrastructure and at the same time have taken over the training of citizens even in the smallest rural communities. The government has embarked on the data security of banks and the former Estonian President Ilves confirmed in an interview: “If it is good enough for the banks, it’s good enough for us.” Similar value propositions would also have to be created when it comes to the implementation of eID in Germany. On the one hand, the citizens will not feel the added benefit as long as the usage is reduced to only an average of 1.7 transactions per year. On the other hand, the zero-defect mentality of the public administration in the German implementation constitutes a burden for users, as there will continue to be high risk and cyber attacks and there can be no guarantees against leaks, phishing, or other types of violations.

8. How could the tendering and procurement services be revised so that the innovation opportunities of free and open software can be benefited from and the participation opportunities for startups increase?

The main requirement for the revision of the tendering and procurement services for e-government projects is: IT talent must be present in the public administration and cannot be replaced by legal contract management knowledge. Through the existing tendering and procurement process, the substantive responsibility for e-government projects and digital innovation is being handed to external service providers. Since calls for bids are often designed to minimize risk and not for innovative disruption of the management process, some Public service units of service providers have oriented themselves respectively . Especially in large IT projects additional claims can arise once the project has begun or more comprehensive service contracts can come about that extend the original quotation costly and in the long term. Like with infrastructure and large-scale projects such as the Berlin airport or the Elb-Philharmonie, in the e-government area it can happen that cost plans cannot be adhered to and projects either fail or are endlessly updated since the original specifications were developed with legal contract knowledge but not with administrative scientific process and IT knowledge. Why is IT knowledge necessary: ​​The public administration must be able to evaluate whether the offered software code and software design can indeed contribute to the desired project success and they must be able to measure whether the implementation can contribute to increasing effectiveness and efficiency.

Here Germany can learn from the British Government Digital Service or the US Digital Service and 18F. In the United States, the so-called Agile Blanket Purchase Agreements were introduced to work with external service providers to set up an open-source project on the social software sharing platform as part of their tender submission. This allows IT departments in the public administration to pre-evaluate whether external service providers will actually be able to technically implement the offer, rather than trying to determine the actual ability to deliver from the offer document. A detailed description can be found in this report. This requires a changed relationship between external service providers and the public administration, but also a new understanding of the role of public administration: the end result is presented to project managers not at the end of the contract term, but in so-called short sprint cycles of a few weeks in which all parties are directly involved in any phase of the project and can take corrective action. In addition, citizens or internal users are involved and the design is created from the perspective of the end user.

This also means that the barriers to entry for start-ups need to be reduced, since they often cannot fulfill the high expectations (such as minimum number of employees, etc.). Agile Innovation Management and agile procurement management also correspond to the mentality in start-ups which are designed to bring disruptive innovations to the market and contribute a “fail-fast” mentality to the Sprint cycles.

In Estonia, the CIO reserves the right to check all ICT procurement by government departments for their feasibility and their potential of de-bureaucratization before funding is made available.

9. How would you rate the effort to expand the existing freedom of information law to a transparency law (following the example of Hamburg and Rhineland-Palatinate)?

Since I’m not a management lawyer, I cannot answer the question from a legal point of view.

From an administrative scientific point of view, however, I suggest that transparency law is not treated as a hype theme like open government, which currently seems to be mainly about platform creation and passive provision of existing records. The publication of data from the past only has its purpose when this data can be combined with other data sets. In addition, it is necessary that the public administration does not work off transparency in the same context but it is being reflected on how the public administration can be considered as transparent in excess of the provision of data sets. It is more important to achieve transparency in administrative processes and especially the internal decision-making processes, so that you can draw conclusions concerning the provision of services or judge the performance of service provision across authorities.

Transparency for the public will be achieved when citizens know how their own data is used and when what authorities or journalists are trying to get access to the data. When these processes are designed in a manner that is comprehensible for citizens, trust is created in the information collection and use of citizen data. When there are then additional value-added services being offered, which are possibly even automated by bots or personal agents, satisfaction and willingness to keep the database current increases.

10. What other technologies are gaining importance for the subject of Digital Administration? What potential has the block chain technology for the digitization of the administration? your opinion, what opportunities and risks does the Tell-Us-Once Principle / Once-only principle entail and how can these considerations be evaluated from a constitutional, data-protection point of view and in view of IT security? How could the principle of the supremacy of digital processing procedures be introduced for administrative services (Digital by default) – taking into account accessibility and the option of a non-use of digital offerings?

The use of new technology should not be an end in itself, because a particular technology gets a lot of media attention.

It is more important that all levels of administration initially agree on a common approach or common e-government principles and that there is nationwide consensus concerning the introduction. Digital transformation should be treated similarly to national security issues: a universal service available to every citizen.

The next step then is considering how administrative processes can be transformed in favor of the users taking into account certain principles (digital by default, once-only, etc.), this means not just a 1:1 conversion from analogue to digital, but re-imaging the processes completely. Thereby processes, which have developed over decades, but are no longer useful, can be omitted completely. Other processes are greatly reduced (from 18 page forms to a page) or responsibilities are changed and processes are integrated.

Finally, it is important to consider what types of administrative processes exist. For standardized processes without a margin of discretion, automation can be introduced. This is especially true for invoices, registers, or certain life stage events that are mandatory for every citizen. For such processes block chain, for example, can be used as a basic technology.

As an important example for the consideration of accessibility, the experience in Estonia should be mentioned: A strong desire for more digitization has particularly come from associations representing the interests of disabled people. Digitization often times allows disabled people with Internet access a greater freedom to execute their official functions independently regardless of a possibly difficult journey to a physical office.

For citizens, that prefer not to use digital offerings, it should be determined what prevents them from participating. In Estonia, for example, the Tiger Leap program was introduced in the 90s to promote the technology infrastructure and education in the schools. At the same time seminars were conducted with the help of banks to meet all customers where they stand and kiosks were set up where citizens could conduct their banking and official duties without home computer access.

Not to be forgotten is that information technology training for officials is currently not important or only plays a very small role in professional training in Germany. By comparison, the switch to new technologies is now part of basic training in the US federal agencies, such as the defense authorities, so that new members of the administration take on their functions already expecting that they can apply new technologies.

11. How, in your view, does the situation present itself in other countries is – both organized comparably (e.g., federal, such as Austria) and difficult to compare (e.g., centralized / small as Estonia or Singapore)? Which states may serve as an example and why?

In my remarks I listed examples from Estonia, Denmark, UK and US. In interviews with German government officials, private contractors, and public administration specialists it became clear that federalism and the thereby created silos are an insurmountable hurdle in decision making and implementation for a successful realization of a national e-government and innovation strategy in the public administration. Other countries have similar decision structures that were created for good reason to guarantee responsibility and accountability in public administration, but these hurdles were overcome to generate a benefit and added value for the public administration and especially the citizens.

In Denmark, this standard has been preserved, but it has been agreed upon the necessity of a voluntary consensus among all levels of government concerning the e-government and innovation strategy and administrative and financial incentives rendered possible a uniform and above all user-friendly implementation.

Estonia has admittedly started from a more advantageous position and was able to re-interpret and design both democracy and e-government at the same time, but what is different to Germany here is that there was very clear pressure to create a competitive advantage over other countries. Technology is seen as a competitive advantage, and both the private and the public sector is 100% designed to implement and export this competitive advantage. There were both political and administrative consensus on this fact.

In other countries, such as UK and US, pressure for an agile innovation management in the public service has been created mainly due to dramatic errors in the implementation of prestigious e-government projects. This includes for example the faulty implementation of the platform in the US or the administrative failure leading to long waiting times for war veterans, who have not received their benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Pressure from citizens and the media, as well as a public failure led to the establishment of US Digital Service and 18F, so-called, swat teams’ that are responsible both for the deletion of “managing fires” and for the fundamental reformation of procurement.

Not the size of the countries whose best practices Germany can learn form are important, but how the previously developed innovations are assumed to be common strategy and can be implemented broadly. These “scaling up” processes should include the following steps: 1) Common principles or policies; 2) common data infrastructure; 3) bringing together the expertise accumulated in policy and technology infrastructure in communities of practice; 4) appropriate financial resources for the implementation that do not be have to be supplied from the existing budget; 5) adjusting internal processes and reporting; and 6) measurable and verifiable service improvements as a reinforcement of the acquisition by additional administrative actors.

In all these examples – irrespective of management size, number of citizens or the political context – there were comparable political and bureaucratic hurdles and it was necessary to get all levels of government and political leaders on board before innovations were implemented.

12. How do you rate the potential of smart cities in social and economic terms? What cities that have committed to transparency in their public policy by opening up their data from government and state-owned enterprises do you consider exemplary in the international context?

Smart Cities is currently still an industry-driven word that is elaborated neither practically nor theoretically. Under the wide range one can find different concepts, but especially data use and exchange across authorities so that ultimately a better (smarter) decision-making basis for the government is reached. There are some pioneers such as Barcelona. However, the political leadership has changed after the election in Barcelona and all Smart City activities were pulped internally. The concept is currently solely being used as a branding and marketing campaign for tourists, but cannot be experienced by the citizens themselves.

Instead of being geared to isolated point solutions abroad, it may make sense for Germany to look at existing standards such as the ISO 37120 (A global initiative of the World Council on City Data WCCD). The provisions represent mandatory sustainability standards for Implementing high service quality and quality of life in cities.


Cited studies and references:

DESI (2016):

McKinsey (2015): E-Government in Deutschland – eine Bürgerperspektive, available online:

Mergel, I. (2017): Digital service teams: Challenges and Recommendations for Government, IBM Center for the Business of Government, Report “Using Technology” Series:

Mergel, I .:Social Media Monitoring in the Public Sector with the Help of Digital Volunteers, Public Management Research Conference 2017, June 8-10, 2017, Washington, DC.

Mergel, I. (2016):Agile Innovation Management in Government: A Research Agenda, In: Government Information Quarterly, 33 (3), pp. 516-523.

Mergel, I. (2015):Open Collaboration in the Public Sector: The Case of Social Coding on Github, In: Government Information Quarterly, Vol 32, pp.. 464-472.

Mergel, I. (2015):Opening Government: Designing Open Innovation Processes to Collaborate with External Problemsolvers, In: Social Science Computer Review, Special Issue on Open Government, 33: 5, pp. 599-612.

Mergel, I. (2011):Using Wiki’s in Government: A guide for using and Maintaining wikis in the public sectorIBM Center for The Business of Government, Report “Using Technology” Series, May 2011

United Nations World E-Government Survey (2014):

United Nations World E-Government Survey (2016):

Wukich, C., Mergel, I. (2015):Closing the Citizen-Government Communication Gap: Content, Audience, and Network Analysis of Government tweets, In: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 12 (3), pp. 707-735.


University of Konstanz’ press release text:

„Digitale Transformation bedeutet, dass Verwaltungsprozesse im Sinne der Bürger und für deren Nutzen transformiert werden – und zwar nicht aus der internen Logik der Verwaltung heraus.“ Auf Einladung des Deutschen Bundestages sprach die Konstanzer Verwaltungswissenschaftlerin Prof. Dr. Ines Mergel ihre Empfehlungen für die Digitalisierung der öffentlichen Verwaltung aus. Ines Mergel war als wissenschaftliche Sachverständige zum Thema „Moderner Staat – Chancen durch die Digitalisierung“ in den Ausschuss „Digitale Agenda“ des Bundestages eingeladen worden. Die Konstanzer Verwaltungswissenschaftlerin empfahl in dem öffentlichen Fachgespräch sowie in ihrer schriftlichen Stellungnahme nachdrücklich, die sukzessive Umstellung der Verwaltung auf digitale Dienstleistungen (E-Government) vom Nutzungsverhalten der Bürger aus zu designen und die Datennutzung transparent zu gestalten. „Die inhaltliche Hoheit über die Dateneinsicht muss bei dem einzelnen Bürger bleiben“, so Ines Mergel.

„Die Nutzung von bestehenden E-Government-Angeboten stagniert, da digitale Dienstleistungen der öffentlichen Verwaltung aus Bürgersicht nicht nutzerfreundlich sind“, warnt Ines Mergel und verweist auf aktuelle Studien. Demnach werden die Onlineangebote der öffentlichen Verwaltung von weniger als einem Fünftel der Deutschen genutzt. „Die digitale Transformation, die in den meisten anderen Lebensbereichen erfolgreich umgesetzt wurde und für Kunden im Privatsektor Normalität geworden ist, stoppt in der Bürgererfahrung mit der öffentlichen Verwaltung“, zeigt Mergel auf. Grund sei, dass deren Onlineangebote aus der internen Logik der Verwaltung heraus gestaltet wurden, die dem Nutzungs- und Suchverhalten der Bürger nicht entspricht. Informationen seien dadurch teils schwer zu finden, der elektronische Schrift- und Zahlungsverkehr sei häufig umständlich, digitale Formulare müssen in vielen Fällen trotzdem per Hand ausgefüllt und physisch in das Verwaltungsgebäude gebracht werden.

„Eine Veränderung der Verwaltungsausbildung ist notwendig, um verwaltungswissenschaftliche Kenntnisse mit IT-Kenntnissen zu digitaler Transformation zu kombinieren“, schlussfolgert Mergel. Wichtig sei, die Verwaltungsprozesse nicht eins zu eins von analog auf digital zu übertragen, sondern neu zu konzipieren. Die Digitalisierung der Verwaltung berge das große Potenzial, bestehende bürokratische Prozesse zu überdenken und stark zu verkürzen: „Aus 18 Seiten Formularen wird eine Seite“, skizziert Ines Mergel die Stoßrichtung.

„Es ist nicht notwendig, das Rad neu zu erfinden oder einen hundertprozentig deutschen Weg einzuschlagen“, schildert die Konstanzern Verwaltungswissenschaftlerin und betont: „Wichtig ist hier weniger, mit Gesetzen vorab zu operieren. Stattdessen wäre es sinnvoller, sich über Verwaltungsebenen hinweg freiwillig auf gemeinsame Prinzipien zu einigen.“ Ein Vorbild für die nutzerorientierte Gestaltung der digitalen Verwaltung liefert Dänemark. „Der Fokus der Umsetzung hat in Dänemark darauf gelegen, zunächst die Nutzungspotenziale zu generieren und damit bei den Bürgern eine breite Anwendungsbereitschaft zu schaffen, anstatt einer perfekten technologischen und rechtlichen Infrastruktur“, so Mergel. Wichtig sei in diesem Kontext, einen Mehrwert über die Verwaltung hinaus zu schaffen und die Infrastruktur in den Alltag der Bürger zu tragen. „In Dänemark wurde dieser Mehrwert beispielsweise mit anderen digitalen Dienstleistungen für die Bürger erfahrbar gemacht“, zeigt Mergel auf. Ein Beispiel hierfür ist die Verknüpfung von elektronischen Ausweisfunktionen (eID) und digitalem Bankkonto. Zentrale Bedingung sei aber, dass der Zugriff auf individuelle Daten der Bürger transparent gestaltet wird und die Entscheidungsgewalt über die Nutzung der Daten beim Bürger bleibt. „Dem Bürger die Hoheit über die Daten geben“, unterstreicht Ines Mergel die Grundbedingung: „Transparenz für den Bürger wird dann erreicht, wenn der Bürger weiß, wie seine eigenen Daten genutzt werden.“



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