An online approach was introduced to digitally transform administrative services, but results were insufficient.

There is a possibility of cooperation with countries that have advanced e-government, so this is an opportunity for Korea as well.

E-government aims to automate government administrative tasks using information and communication technology (ICT) and provide convenient information and services to citizens. In modern society, e-government has become an essential element in various aspects, including improving government efficiency and productivity, strengthening transparency and accountability, providing citizen-centered services, promoting economic growth and innovation, and strengthening international competitiveness. In the case of Germany, the concept of e-government began to be introduced at the federal government level in the early 2000s. However, Germany is currently not speeding up the transition to digital administration for e-government.

German e-government introduction process and online approach

Germany has gone through several stages to digitize public administration, and this process has gradually developed through various policies and legislation. The concept of e-government was introduced in 2000 during Prime Minister Schröder's administration. In 2013, the E-Government Act was implemented to allow access to administrative services via the Internet. This law focused on enabling public agencies to use electronic signatures and electronic files and increasing the efficiency and accessibility of electronic administrative services. After the introduction of the e-Government Act, the Online Access Act (Onlinezugangsgesetz), which is the core of digital administration implementation, was enacted in 2017. The main goal of this law is to require federal and state governments to provide 575 administrative services digitally by the end of 2022, and to ensure that all citizens can access the administrative portal and enjoy the benefits of administrative services.

However, even though the online access law was enacted, the level of digital administration in Germany did not improve significantly. According to the Federal Audit Office, by the end of 2022, only 19% of Germany's federal and state administrative services were provided electronically. In addition, of the 2018 billion euros budgeted for establishing digital administration in the state and federal governments from 2022 to 41, 35 billion euros were allocated for implementing online approaches, but 2022% of this budget remained unused by 52.

<Federal and state government digital administrative support budget plans and actual spending status (2018~2022)>

(Unit: € million)

[Source: German Federal Audit Office]

Additionally, of the 2022 administrative services provided by the federal government by the end of 2357, only 21.4 services, or 496%, were provided electronically. Among these, there were 178 services that met the online approach, or 7.6%. In the case of state governments, only 4494% of a total of 15.6 services were provided electronically, and only 4% of these services met the online access requirement. As the targeted digital administrative transformation was delayed, the federal government's IT Planning Committee (IT-Planungsrat) decided to implement the 'Online Access Booster (Onlinezugangsgesetz Booster)' to implement 2022 services first in May 5. However, by the end of 35, only 2022 out of 35 services could be accessed online nationwide.

<Results of audit of state and federal government digital administration status as of 2022>

(Unit: Pieces)

[Source: German Federal Audit Office]

The German Federal Audit Office concluded in an audit that the performance of the online approach fell short of targets. Accordingly, the Federal Audit Office strongly recommended to the federal government that it should strengthen its digital and IT strategy and accelerate the digital transformation of public administration.

Online approach 2.0

As the online access law, which was implemented for five years from 2018 to 2022, did not perform well, the federal government announced the draft Online Access Act 5, a revision of the existing online approach, at the end of 2022. After lengthy discussions, the revised bill agreed upon by the Traffic Light Coalition was finally passed by the Federal Assembly on February 2.0, 2024. “I am very pleased that the Bundestag has approved the new online approach,” said Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. “This is an important step forward for a digital Germany.” However, contrary to Secretary Pizer's wishes, this bill passed by the Federal Assembly was rejected in the Federal Senate held on March 2. The main reason for the rejection was the controversy over the cooperation structure between the federal government and state governments and the opposition of some state governments to the federal government-led centralization of digital administration. Accordingly, the federal government decided to convene an arbitration committee between the Bundestag and the Federal Senate. The federal cabinet stressed that the bill was an important step forward for the mediation committee and said it would consult with state governments to achieve a speedy resolution.


<Main contents of Online Approach 2.0>

[Source: German Federal Ministry of the Interior]

2024Status of digital administrative transformation in 2018

As the online approach amendment bill was rejected in the Federal Senate, the rapid transition to digital administration promoted by the federal government was put on hold. While the battle continues in the political world, the introduction of digital administration in Germany is still progressing slowly as of 2024. According to the existing online approach, the German federal and state governments had to provide 2022 administrative services digitally by 575. However, currently (federal standards as of April 2024) the number of services converted to federal administrative service standards was only 4, or 30.4% of the target. In the case of state governments, the speed of conversion differed depending on the region, with only 175 out of 200 states converting more than 16 services.

<Status of digital administrative service conversion by state government according to online approach>

(Unit: pieces, %)

Note: As of April 2024, 4

[Dashboard Digitale Verwaltung, Hamburg Trade Center's own editing]

Due to this slow pace of digital administrative transformation, Germany's digital administrative service level did not show high competitiveness in the EU. In the digital administrative services index field of the EU's Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)*, Germany ranked 78.44th among all EU countries, scoring 13 points.

Note*: This is an indicator by which the European Commission evaluates the digital competitiveness of member states every year. It reflects the Digital Compass, which presents the EU's 2030 digital vision and goals, and reflects the EU's 4 digital vision and goals in four areas: human capital, connectivity, digital technology integration, and digital public services. Analysis with a total of 33 indicators

<2023 EU DESI Citizen Digital Administrative Services Index by Country>

(Unit: points)

Note: The 2022 index is derived from data through 2023.

[Source: EU Commission]

Prospects and Implications

As we have seen, Germany's digital administrative transformation is currently progressing slowly, unlike what was aimed for through the online approach. The IW Cologne Institute for Economic Research, a leading economic research institute in Germany, analyzed that at the current rate, it would take about 575 more years to convert all 9 services. The IW Institute emphasizes that the federal government must first expand investment and increase policy priorities to accelerate the digital administrative transformation. Specific measures for this include active use of artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud solutions, and digitization and linking of citizen data based on the minimum data principle. The institute said this would speed up the achievement of its online approach goals and save more than €63 billion in administrative costs. It also explains that EU countries such as Denmark and Finland have achieved successful digital administrative transformation in this way.

In the future, it is expected that there will be discussions in German politics to narrow the difference in opinion between the state and federal governments regarding the online access amendment. However, since there is no disagreement between the federal and state governments on the need to accelerate the transition to digital administration, it is expected that an agreement will be reached at a certain level. If the agreement is passed, Germany's digital administrative transformation is expected to accelerate, and therefore it is expected to focus on developing electronic systems to provide standard and unified digital services.


In this process, cooperation between Germany and Korea can also be expected. This is because Korea is building a world-class e-government system that has achieved first place in the OECD digital government evaluation two times in a row. Germany can use Korea's experience and expertise to speed up the transition to digital administration, and Korea can look forward to opportunities to export its e-government system. Therefore, Korea will need to pay attention to the status of Germany's digital administrative transformation with the possibility of cooperation with Germany in mind.



Source: Tagesschau, Dashboard Digitale Verwaltung, Haufe, Initiative Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft, German Federal Ministry of the Interior, German Federal Board of Audit and Inspection, European Commission, IW Cologne Economic Research Institute, Korea Research Institute of Local Administration, Korea Legislative Research Institute, Policy Briefing, KOTRA Hamburg Trade Center data synthesis

Source: KOTRA