The State of Bremen (Free Hanseatic City of Bremen), in the north of Germany, is the first of the German Länder to apply the eInvoice European directive, thanks to a pilot project coordinated with the German authority responsible for the IT standards (KoSIT).
EIF and Interoperability Matching
All the interoperability layers of the EIF are addressed and a transparent and organised governance is put in place with the aim of reaching the highest possible level of compliance with the European public procurement schemes.
A special attention is reserved to the Standards and Specification layers. The IT Standards Coordination Office ( KoSIT ) is the main actor of the project, working in collaboration with other federal and local authors described below. KoSIT also creates a collection in Joinup called XRepository. This is a library for data exchange standards and codelists that were modelled in order to ease up interoperability between eGovernment applications of German Public administration and the industry.
As defined in Directive 2014/55/EU, an electronic invoice (eInvoice) is “an invoice that has been issued, transmitted and received in a structured data format which allows for its automatic and electronic processing”.
This European directive sets up also the European standard (EN 16931) on electronic invoice and the delay with which all the Member States of the European Union should align on it.
Bremen decided to anticipate the official delay set to April 2019, and signed a contract on March 2018, which foreseen already a planning for an extension for the year 2020 and the following cornerstones:
- Information events for businesses;
- Consultation on site with companies;
- Discussions with industry-specific software providers about interface issues;
- Annual reports documenting the results.
Concerning the local legislation, On 1 August 2009, the most important part of the Gerrman Federalism Reform II came into force with the Act amending the Basic Law (Article 91c). As part of the reform package, the Basic Law (GG) was supplemented by Articles 91c and 91d. Germany is thus one of the first country to provide constitutional regulations for information technology with constitutional status.
In implementation of Article 91c of the Basic Law, the Federal Government and the Länder have concluded the IT State Treaty on the establishment of the IT Planning Council.
The legal framework under which this project is developed in Bremen is the Administration 4.0 an E-Government and Digitization Strategy, 2016.
Description of target users and groups
The project addresses the public agencies and authorities of the state of Bremen. The stakeholders (client, providers and contractors) are involved as they will be the ones receiving and/or delivering the eInvoices to the local authorities.
The civil servants directly impacted by this changes are trained and formed in order to be fully efficient as from day-1.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
The first challenge concerns the potential difficulties that common stakeholders of the Land could have in using eInvoicing technology. The cooperation starts with basic information and concrete action aids on the electronic invoicing of businesses. The success of the project passes in fact through the share of the good practices with the stakeholders of the Lander of Bremen and their full comprehension and proactive adoption of the new schema proposed by this project.
The project faced a variety of software solutions used, of interfaces and of possible transmission paths to exchange invoices. This has a strong influence on the business processes implemented by the stakeholders. This made an individual consultation of the business enterprises necessary, regarding a possible use of the standard XRechnung (the repository mentioned above).
The project is directed and coordinated by the German IT Standards Coordination Office (KoSIT). It has the task of coordinating the development and operation of IT standards for data exchange in public administration, under the department 02 of the Senator of Finance.
This department 02 is responsible for the planning, organisation, operation and financing of the central information technology for the state and the city of Bremen. This includes the control of the IT service provider Dataport, coordination with other Dataport carrier countries, and alignment with the federal government and other countries.
The local KoSIT is working under the regulatory framework depicted upper. This also include the framework of the activities of the IT Planning Council. It establishes the objectives of the cooperation. The IT State Treaty on the Establishment of the IT Planning Council came into force on April 1, 2010. He establishes the IT Planning Council as the central body for federal cooperation in information technology.
The budget comes mainly from the Senate for Finance, which is the local minister) of the Land of Bremen. In this specific case, since the pilot project is passing through the activity of the local federated authority, it receive an extra financing from the federal organ. As a monitoring mechanism, the IT Planning Council also assesses the activity of KoSIT through recurrent reports.
Main results, benefits and impacts
The new digital process is about to increasingly replace the old-fashioned paper-based process. This saves paperwork, speeds-up the administrative process, to save time and money. The extra advantage of an automated eInvoicing is the integration of the process directly into the other business systems (both on public administration and provider side) to build an end-to-end electronic solution. Also, a paper-free billing ecologically pays off.
About the reuse and adoption of such a project at country level, the nationwide IT Planning Council declared the joint introduction of eInvoicing by business and administration as a flagship project in 2015. Other federated entities responsible for this topic in the other German Länder are interested in the software developed by Bremen KoSIT. North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate have already decided to apply them.