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Efficient administration with digital services and automation

Bastian Drugowitsch, Managing Director of Fabasoft Austria GmbH, discussed what is important for the digital transformation in administration.


Created on 21. March 2024

#nextlevel-Talk digitale Services und Automatisierung

Austria is considered a European pioneer in digital administration and has already made a very early and targeted start on implementation. Nevertheless, public authorities are currently facing a number of challenges in their day-to-day work - such as the shortage of skilled workers, the wave of retirements and increasing demands from citizens - which require new approaches. How can digital transformation help to overcome these hurdles? And what potential can public authorities use? Peter Parycek, Head of the Center for E-Government at Danube University Krems, Wolfgang Pinkl, Director of Business Transformation at EY, Petra Stummer, Head of the IT Department at the Office of the Lower Austrian Provincial Government and Bastian Drugowitsch, Managing Director of Fabasoft Austria GmbH, discussed these and other topics at the expert talk in the "Die Presse" studio. The event was moderated by Jakob Zirm, Head of Economist at the daily newspaper "Die Presse".

Mastering the retirement wave without losing expertise

Public administration is particularly hard hit by the shortage of skilled workers: It is estimated that around half of the 135,000 federal employees will retire in the near future. "Of course, this means a loss of expertise," explains Petra Stummer, "we have to pass on the knowledge before many employees retire. At the same time, it is necessary to get new employees on board and train them for the digital services in the authorities so that the state service remains functional." For Drugowitsch, automation is a logical conclusion to these developments. Intelligent technologies enable processes and information to be mapped by means of rules and regulations, allowing the increasing demands to be met with fewer and fewer staff.

Making progress accessible to citizens

Citizens' expectations of the administration are also increasing. The general public often has the impression that public authorities are still far behind when it comes to digitalization. "If you compare this with the economy, however, the public sector is not lagging significantly behind - although it may feel different," explains Peter Parycek. An appealing design and user-friendly interfaces give users the subjective feeling that companies are far ahead digitally compared to public authorities. Parycek clarifies: "But if we look at the backends, the public sector is quite comparable to commercial enterprises." Drugowitsch confirms: "Fundamental digitalization was started very early and very purposefully in Austria; the electronic file has been in place at federal level for 20 years." The state must therefore think about how digital progress can also reach the population, and how official channels can be made user-friendly and easy to design digitally. A platform is needed that includes all information and responses and on which bidirectional communication with the authorities is possible.

Accelerating the administration's response time

The state of Lower Austria is currently in the process of implementing an online service portal to increase the quality of service provided by the administration: "With this low-code/no-code platform, we want to bring knowledge to the departments to such an extent that qualified employees there are able to digitize simple forms independently and make them available to citizens," explains Stummer. According to Drugowitsch, public administration must be able to react quickly to circumstances such as changes in the law. "The Fabasoft low-code/no-code functions also enable employees without programming knowledge to design online services and automate them as far as possible based on rules. This gives the authorities a fast time-to-market, makes them self-sufficient and resource-efficient." 

Plea for standardization

Online services will create a new form of interaction with the state in the future. This requires a rethink of previous processes and collaboration between different departments. According to experts, resources must focus on those applications where a large amount of standard cases can be handled with little effort. According to Wolfgang Pinkl, it is important not to get lost in the details when implementing digital services: "If the administration manages to ensure that, in principle, only the simplest use case is displayed and users can decide for themselves whether they want to use it or not.

Transparency creates trust

The eGovernment Monitor 2023 shows that the public's trust in public administration continues to decline. To counteract this development, Wolfgang Pinkl sees two key factors: "These are both information and education. We need an understanding of what the state does with my data and transparency about what data the state has at its disposal, then trust can increase again." According to Parycek, there are examples of the implementation of increased traceability in other countries. "In Estonia, citizens have transparent access and can see what data the state has on them and who accesses it and when." 

What will the digital state of the future look like?

In the future, the administration must provide digital services that are more accessible to citizens and focus on user-friendly and inclusive interfaces. There is enormous potential in administrative processes that authorities need to utilize, particularly in terms of automation. All of the experts agree on the goal of digital administration with fully automated processes that no longer require forms. "However, we also need to think about how to get there," Drugowitsch clarifies. "Until we have reached this step, there will still be forms, but the process must be designed to be as efficient and automated as possible." 


Further information can be found on the "Presse" website and in the video of the talk.