The use of technology is one of the main factors in increasing government efficiency, concludes Norway’s Agency for Public Management and e-Government (Difi). Digitalisation of government processes results in major gains for society, streamlining government through automation and simplification of work processes.
In November, Difi published its study ‘Nøklene til handlingsrommet. Hva fremmer og hemmer effektivisering i staten? (Keys to manoeuvring. What promotes and what hinders efficiency in the state?), which describes the measures and actions that either promote or counter government efficiency. The study combines the results of an earlier government employee survey, interviews with 28 current and former central government managers, and other reports and studies.
Difi reports that Norwegian public administrations are working to harmonise their ICT systems across government levels. Examples include ICT solutions that unify services related to income, employment and tax. Coordinating the IT systems results in savings of millions of NKR per year, according to the report.
Difi points to a 2015 study by Riksrevisjonen - Norway’s Auditor General - showing that many public administrations fail to realise value from their ICT projects. The government employee survey indicates that there is a need for better monitoring to ensure gains are realised, Difi adds.
Its interviews show that management does not always understand the importance of investing in digital solutions. A quarter of the 3,899 respondents to the survey say digitisation is a very important management challenge.
“One of the biggest barriers to digitising public services, is the lack of technological expertise in top management”, Difi writes. The government is already working on measures to boost the ICT skills of its senior managers, the agency notes.