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A new captain on the bridge – charting the same course

13-10-2017 Column

Everyday life is digital, as we say in the Danish Agency for Digitisation. And it is not just something we say – we also see it every day. Approximately 90 per cent of citizens read their post from the public sector digitally – and they are not dreaming of a return to piles of paper.

We also see it in the political debate, where the issue of digitisation is becoming more and more prominent. Digitisation is unavoidable in a modern welfare state, a recognition of which has most recently led to the appointment of a Minister for Public Sector Innovation to the Ministry of Finance.  

Digitisation offers a huge range of solutions and possibilities – as well as numerous challenges. As Director-General of the Agency for Digitisation, I am looking forward to working with this whole area. Even though I have only just been appointed to this position, I am not new to the Agency and far from unfamiliar with our agenda. So I know what the task involves and I know that it is both immense and challenging.

A coherent public sector

One of the key tasks will be to deliver better and innovative public service to citizens and businesses. This means ensuring, for example, a more user-friendly and coordinated service when several public authorities are involved. 

Meeting the public sector must not be what makes life difficult when moving address, getting divorced, or starting a new business. Therefore, one of the biggest tasks will be to implement the initiatives set out in the coherency reform programme that Ms. Sophie Løhde, Minister for Public Sector Innovation, has launched.

We must become better at thinking as one public sector – for that is how citizens view us. Not as 18 ministries, 5 regions and 98 municipalities. We must adopt a horisontal way of thinking, and systems must be able to interact seamlessly. This requires secure data exchange of high quality between authorities. And it also requires legislation that is ready for digital era.

New strategies for cyber security and ICT management

Cyber security will be another important issue. In 2017, we unfortunately witnessed several costly, large-scale hacker attacks, and it is vital that we improve our security management. Both in order to maintain the strong confidence of citizens in the digital solutions and to continue developing and digitising the public sector. The work has already been initiated with the strategy for information and cyber security, which we are currently working hard on preparing input for.

We need to have better management of our ICT systems in general. Throughout the private sector, we have countless ICT systems, and some of them, to put it mildly, are past their sell-by date. Nor are we always good enough at achieving the goals of our ICT projects. Old systems need to be replaced, the systems need to be updated, and security needs to be second-to-none. How we achieve all these goals will be presented later during the year when the strategy for ICT management in central government is launched by the Minister for Public Sector Innovation. This means new tasks for us in relation to our own large systems.

This was only a small selection of the most important tasks facing us this fall. What they all have in common is that they should make life a easier for all of us. For every citizen, for every public sector employee and for every business. I am very much looking forward to contributing to achieving this – now as captain at the digital helm.

Best regards
Rikke Hougaard Zeberg