What is digital Government?

Digital Government or e-Government has become synonymous for a modern government.

E-Government literally means "electronic government".

The term e-Government has established itself worldwide as "the administration of government by means of electronic technology". In general, it stands for the simplification of work routines and processes through the application of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the areas of information, communication and transaction within and between government institutions as well as between the government and citizens or businesses.

Digital administration also increases the transparency of government actions, for example, through open government data (OGD) initiatives, as well as the democratic participation of citizens (e.g. through online petitions).

E-Government can only function efficiently when public authorities work closely together and cooperate inter-administratively. The existing infrastructure is shared. The advantage of the portal group concept is that many applications are available from a single point of entry. The user’s identity only needs to be verified once in the portal. The technical term for requiring the user to sign in only once is called "Single Sign On (SSO)".

E-Government encompasses all electronic public administration services that are available. Public authorities can make use of an electronic signature (Amtssignatur) or “seal” as official signature  to sign contracts digitally.
Please read more about, how e-Government is organised in Austria, and the Coordination Boards Digital Administration.

The E-Government Act

The Act is the core of Austrian laws on E-Government, entered into force on 1 March 2004 and last amended in 2018. In between, several adjustments were introduced, such asthe reference to the eIDAS Regulation.
This law serves as the legal basis for e-Government Public Online Services.
Please see further Information about Austrian laws in e-Government (in German).

Overview of the E-Government categories and services
Overview of the E-Government categories and services photo: BKA/BMF

The highest principles of E-Government law are:

  • Freedom of choice in selecting the means of communication when contacting public authorities;
  • Ensuring security and data protection through appropriate technical measures such as the citizen card;
  • Accessibility measures for people with special needs in order to ensure the access to information and the use of digital services in the public administration. Thereby, international standards must be met and adequate access to Internet sites must be provided.

"Once Only" principle: Public authorities are required, according to their technical capabilities and in compliance with the requirements stipulated by law, to retrieve the available data of the affected person from electronic registers. Thus, certain information (birth certificates, proof of citizenship and proof of residency or documents from the Commercial Register) no longer needs to be presented by the affected person but it can, with the person’s legal consent or legal authorisation, be directly requested by the authority from an electronic register. The administration Registers are the main basis for a variety of E-Government applications.

One-stop principle: In Austria, the principle of creating a one-stop shop for citizens and businesses has been implemented. This can save unnecessary administrative channels and time. The initiated procedures are distributed internally to the competent authorities.

The Austrian E-Government strategy is based on the following additional important principles:

Government and administration needs to be accessible for all citizens. Online services need to be easy to find, to use and available at all times.

Online procedures need to make life simpler and more convenient for citizens: no opening hours or waiting in queues, but only uncomplicated procedures and forms that can be filled out intuitively. Ideally, these forms are pre-filled with the necessary information.

Citizens have to be able to trust the public authorities' electronic processes. Therefore, they have to be able to determine that electronic versions of official documents were sent properly and unaltered by the respective authority. Public authorities can verify that documents received from citizens have originally been sent from the indicated person.

Innovations can only be successful and accepted when all people concerned are in fact involved in the development process. Moreover, the process needs to be transparent.

Public authority services must be accessible to everyone without discrimination

The range of electronic services offered needs to be organised in an easily comprehensible, clear and straightforward manner. In order to gain acceptance and approval from users, forms and portals need to have a consistent design. Navigation and menues need to be structured in an intuitive and logical way.

Data protection is a fundamental right. Citizens attach great value to the protection of their privacy. Therefore, public administration employees have exclusively access to personal data from administrative areas for which they are authorised.

In order for E-Government to function as its best, all administrative levels work together seamlessly. Existing software applications and infrastructures need to work together to achieve the desired level of efficiency. Therefore, cooperation is necessary for E-Government to run in an efficient manner organisationally, financially and administratively.

E-Government is modularly structured and therefore, allows new components to be integrated immediately into the system to keep up with the latest technology. A modular structure offers more than just sustainability; it also increases Austria’s competitiveness in the market and strengthens Austria's as business location.

Technically different systems need to be able to communicate with each other. Therefore, E-Government solutions are only developed by using internationally recognised standards and open interfaces.

Due to the rapid pace of updates und constant development of systems, solutions and devices, E-Government needs to be open to new developments rather than making use of one particular type of technology.

The Austrian E-Government ensures the best possible positioning of Austria in the European and international environment. The Austrian E-Government solutions take their international applicability into consideration right from the outset. Austria contributes actively to European developments and consciously steers the Austrian strategy towards the joint European objectives (e.g. Digital Agenda, E-Government action plan, E-Government minister declarations).

Additional Information