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Data will create a more digitally coherent public sector

03-07-2017 Column

The last few weeks, digitisation in the public sector has attracted much attention in the Danish media, and many different views and perceptions are being presented. I am pleased with this interest, as we work with ICT solutions that are vital to society and affect all citizens. Therefore, in this newsletter we open the doors to how we are working towards a more digitally coherent public sector.

Common plan for digital coherence

The public sector is going through an extensive transformation. Across central, regional and municipal governments, we must be ready to live up to expectations from citizens and businesses that we, as a public sector, can ensure the best possible service provision based on their needs. In order to live up to these expectations, in a period when public services and public budgets are under increasing pressure, we must embrace the digital development that offers great opportunities for improving efficiency and innovation. Therefore, under the government's coherency reform and together with public authorities, we have embarked on the ambitious goal of a more up-to-date public sector.

An important element is better use of public sector data. However, first we need to build the foundation, and we, as a public sector, need to increasingly develop our ICT systems following a common plan, in which sharing of data and use of data are incorporated from the very beginning.

We are also working on this under the common public sector Digital Strategy 2016-2020, in which we have just published a White Paper on a common public sector digital architecture. Across central, regional and municipal governments, the White Paper will make data sharing and transverse processes easier across the initiatives in the Digital Strategy. As far as possible, data will only have to be entered once, and good solutions will be reused to save time and money. This will create digital coherency and contribute to a more efficient and effective public sector.

The perspectives of a common plan for efficient and safe sharing of data go beyond the our common public sector digital strategy. We need to learn from the current experience and use this in our work on data in the future.

Collaboration on providing the best public sector data in the world

Ensuring digital coherency is not an easy task, but the underlying fundamentals are in place. Data is the raw material, and collaboration is the means. Denmark has the best public sector data in the world and a long tradition of collaborating across the public sector. This tradition must be safeguarded and used to provide the best public services in the world to citizens and businesses; services that are efficient, coherent, transparent and targeted at the needs of the individual user.
For example, by using data smarter we are addressing the challenges authorities and businesses face with regard to distributing their digital post more efficiently. Nine authorities have teamed up to test how increased use of metadata can contribute to a more automatic distribution. Authorities are currently testing how notifications about MOT tests (the annual test of vehicles) and criminal records can be distributed easier and quicker. 

The basic data programme is currently enhancing our most important data and is conducting a marathon of tests in which the many transverse tests between registers will be conducted over the course of the next year. We are being extra cautious because basic data is some of the most important data we have and is for example used in connection with payment of services, granting mortgage credit loans, and public-sector case processing. 
The programme combines the many basic data registers, so that information on addresses, the climate, etc. does not have to be searched from many different places. This is both smart and challenging, and not least important to get right. Therefore, we are being very thorough and will test this for about a year.

A characteristic of our work on data is that we collaborate and test solutions, and scrutinise our most important data. This is done on an ongoing basis, so that solutions become better and we become wiser.

I will let these words be the last in my column as Director-General of the Danish Agency for Digitisation. After five years as Director-General, I am leaving the Danish Agency for Digitisation and will instead take up the position as Deputy Permanent Secretary for public sector innovation in the Danish Ministry of Finance. There, I will be responsible for the ministry’s ambitious work on the Coherency Reform of the public sector. 

Since the agency’s establishment in 2011, digitisation has become the key to the development of the Danish society and I am more than proud of the important part we have played in this development.

Best regards
Lars Frelle-Petersen

Read the press release.