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From strategy to reality

17-12-2015 Column

It is not only 2015 which draws to a close. Also, the current Joint Government eGovernment Strategy is nearing completion. We look back on four years of "digitisation tour-de-force" in the public sector, where we are well advanced with a great joint effort.

A lot has happened since 2011 when the politicians adopted the ambitious strategy which has left its mark and produced great results.

The results speak for themselves. Citizens and businesses have been extremely adaptable and have embraced digital self-service solutions. Also when the solutions that they encountered were not entirely intuitive and easy-to-use from the beginning. And today it feels natural for most people to read letters from the public sector digitally and to self-service digitally. Studies show that in fact satisfaction rates are high. The authorities have also done a great job of changing workflows and redirecting communications to the digital channels - and many civil society groups have helped us on this mission. And that is what it takes to achieve successful digitisation: Concerted efforts across sectors.

Great societal changes
When the eGovernment strategy was launched in 2011 it marked the beginning of a great transformation of Danish society, during which communications between citizens and public authorities would become digital. This necessitated the important task of establishing the political mandate through legislation, ensuring that the digital solutions were developed and adapted, orchestrating a significant local reorganisation of work processes, and meeting a great need for information, both nationally and locally.

Just over a year ago, the Danish public sector made the largest digitisation leap to date and made it mandatory for citizens to receive Digital Post from public authorities. I admit that, at times, there were nervous jitters in the wings. But everything turned out just fine. Now, a little over a year after the transition to Digital Post, figures show that the Danes have embraced digital communications. Even more citizens than we expected signed up for Digital Post, and they are really good at remembering to check their Digital Post inbox. The biggest technical obstacles have been cleared, and the reorganisation of work processes in public authorities have yielded great results. 80 million letters have been sent through Digital Post this year  - which is twice as much as last year.

The future ...

Over the past four years we have achieved much although, in many ways, we have only just begun. On the basis of the major digital changes we have introduced, new expectations and new concerns arise, for example regarding IT security or regarding citizens who are unable to use digital services. We are not at the finishing line but we are well on the way. And we are starting to outline the next digital strategy which will build on the strong foundation we have created and, at the same time, address the new opportunities and challenges facing a digital public sector.

As 2015 draws to a close, I would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

Lars Frelle-Petersen