State Secretary Dirk Schrödter, Head of the State Chancellery in Schleswig-Holstein, opened the conference with an online greeting. He referred to the great need for digitization in the administration: “The field of tension between visions and the hard small-step work, required to implement them is the field in which DigiLabs operate. The Corona Pandemic has made it abundantly clear how important a digitized administration is. The exchange of all actors is therefore more topical and important than ever.”

Need for digital competencies in the public sector, Prof. Ines Mergel, Head of Digital Governance Lab, University of Konstanz, Germany:

“The Corona pandemic has shown that service provision is mainly digital and that projects in public administration have a digital component. For many public administrations, this means that employees need new skills in order to be able to participate in the project implementation in the digital age.”

The importance of usability is two-fold, Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen, EGOV Adviser at UNU-EGOV:

First, it relates directly to the perceived quality of the service experience and our level of satisfaction. This in turn impacts our choice of the online experience over the telephone or physical service center. Second, if usability is low, we risk alienating the targeted user, or even excluding them from accessing our services. This put at risk our service obligation as well as the financial returns and expected productivity gains resulting from our investments in digital solutions. In short, good usability allows us to create innovative value-adding services for both users and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our organisations and the public sector at large”

Emerging Technologies – AI mapping of administrative procedures:

State Secretary Bernard Grsic: “The goal of the Croatian Central State Office for Digital Society Development is the implementation of activities aimed at digitalization of all parts of society and promoting balanced and inclusive development of digital society by involving all stakeholders – citizens, businesses and public administration in the digitalization processes.”

Kaspar Richter, Head of Unit, Growth and business environment Unit in the Directorate General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) of the European Commission: “DG REFORM stands ready to continue supporting Croatia and other Member States in pursuing their digital transition with tailor-made technical support for the design and implementation of reforms.”

Elisabetta Capannelli, Country Director for Croatia, The World Bank: “To improve the effectiveness of its public administration Croatia should streamline administrative processes and reduce red tape. Such reforms are crucial and depend on the broad and fast digitalization of public services. Digitalization will positively affect the quality of public service delivery and facilitate business operation in Croatia.”

Digital Ready Legislation:

Rikke Hougaard Zeeberg, Director-General of the Agency for Digitisation, Ministry of Finance, Denmark: “The Danish example of making legislation digital-ready illustrates that rules can be modernized to streamline administrative workflows and provide cohesive services to benefit citizens and businesses. The Danish approach to securing that new legislation is fit for a digital age is balanced: The exploration of digital possibilities must go hand in hand with secure data-handling and safeguarding of citizens’ rights.”

Ulrike Nagorni, Legal Adviser at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, Germany: “We aim to draw up legislative proposals in a way which makes the implementation process and the administrative procedures behind them as easy and efficient as possible for citizens, businesses and government, paving the way into the digital future.“

Fotis Fitsilis, Head of Department for Scientific Documentation and Supervision, Hellenic Parliament: “Systemic and legal interoperability are key for designing and building the next generation of G2G, G2B and G2C apps and services. Equipping public administrators with specific legal informatics skills and competences is a major prerequisite for success. In this direction, the role of the national schools of government and of the Interoperability Academy can be of particular importance.”

Basanta Thapa, Researcher, Competence Center Public IT, Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems, Germany: “Surprisingly, machine-consumable laws are actually easier to understand for humans: Unambiguous terms, clear-cut criteria with linked data sources, visualised decision trees and process models – all of this works for man and machine alike.”

DigiLabs experience exchange:

Jan-Ole Beyer, Digital Innovation Teams / E-Government-Agentur DIT.bund: „We are here to change the mindset and culture of the federal administration. We strongly believe that innovation and a sustainable and user-centred digital transformation are much more about this than about technology. Agile, open and collaborative working methods are essential to beam the public sector right into the 21st century.”

Stéphane Vincent, délégué général La 27e: “The 27e Région is a non-for-profit association in France, working as an independant think-and-do-tank focused on public transformation. Its activities are co-funded by a group of 40 members, covering cities, counties, regional governments and state level institutions.”

Bruno J. Monteiro, LabX Portugal: “First and foremost, by its bare existence after 3 years, LabX is the demonstrative example that proves it is possible to change the Public Administration by adopting an experimental and collaborative approach to develop citizen-centric services. Then, LabX has opened a safe space to research, co-create and test innovative solutions before implementing them: doing this, even the «errors» – inevitable when defying the existing solutions – become important lessons to reduce the costs and risks later. Finally, LabX is oriented to produce tangible results, albeit «modest», thus taking innovation from the inspirational level of discourses to the everyday, actual context of public services.”

Benjamin Seibel, Technologiestiftung: “Public innovation labs like CityLAB Berlin play an increasingly important role at the interface between public administration and civil society. Public administrations are under great pressure to change and need experimental spaces in which they can try out new forms of collaboration away from everyday life and experience the possibilities of digitization in practice.”

Lukas Praml, Managing Director, Austrian State Printing House: “The biggest challenge for digital identity is the successful combination of technology, security and user-friendliness. It is important to overcome all technical hurdles and to offer a user-friendly application to the people. Security must be inherent in this solution from day one and not just some later addition. Because of their architecture, decentralized solutions are most promising to fulfil this important requirement.”

Prof. Robert Krimmer, Head of the Digital Governance Lab Estonia: “The Single Digital Gateway Regulation (SDGR) will revolutionize digital governance in Europe together with the Online Access Act 2023: This will introduce the once-only principle across borders. This is also one of the seven principles of the 2017 Tallinn e-governance declaration to which the heads of government of the EU and the European Economic Area have committed themselves. It will bring more convenience, security and trust to citizens and businesses: No data, that is already available to the state in digital form, ever has to be taught again! But that’s not all – with the SDGR, the European Digital Single Market will finally become reality – people will be able to re-register across borders online, register branches of companies abroad, hire employees anywhere in the EU and much more, and hopefully all with just a few clicks.”

Marta A. Tomovska, Director, PAR Team, Office of the Prime Minister of Serbia: “Few years ago, the then Prime Minister Ana Brnabic decided to put the digital transformation of the Serbian government as a top priority of her mandate. Digitalization provided a unique opportunity to leapfrog, add value to the economy, achieve a competitive advantage, and improve the quality of life. Today Serbia is not only a regional, but a global player. A country with the best prospects for growth in Europe in 2020, even in the COVID-19 economy.”

Nora Wolloch, WSA Executive Manager: “Digital technologies are one of the most promising tools to implement the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The World Summit Awards (WSA) uses the mechanism of a global contest and works with a multi-stakeholder community in more than 180 countries to identify local digital solutions that contribute to the achievement of the UN SDGs. Local content and local solutions for local challenges – bringing them into global perspective.”