What if employees in a government ministry were not allowed to move information on paper between desks any more, but were only allowed to move documents in digital form.
Well, this is happening in Europe where Denmark and Spain seem to be leading the way.
It has been a long time coming with many legal and bureaucratic barriers to be removed, i.e. requirements of formal signature, filling out of paper-based forms, etc.
Since January 2002 all Danish ministries have analyzed thousands of laws and regulations for barriers to e-government and a 2002/2003 analysis revealed 453 necessary changes in legislation and regulations. A deadline of the summer 2003 was established for the removal of these barriers and for the most part this was achieved successfully.
Obviously this was a major cultural change in the way governmental knowledge workers perform their jobs and a number of initiatives were started and new guidelines issued.
Since September 1, 2003 all government authorities have had the right to send documents to other authorities electronically and the right to demand that documents from other authorities be sent electronically.
The 2003 initiative aimed at promoting the use of e-mail and Internet communication in the public sector and reorganize work processes towards paperless administration, making government more efficient.
A major next step was that from February 1, 2005 all government authorities had the right to send documents containing personal and sensitive information electronically and the right to demand that the same documents from other authorities be sent electronically using secure e-mail (digital signature).
From the same date citizens and business had the opportunity to communicate with the public sector using secure e-mail (digital signature).
This was made possible by providing citizen and businesses with tools and extensive instructive information to make the transition easier.
• Free digital signature to all Danish citizens.
• Legally binding signature for all interactions on the Internet.
• Authenticity – certainty of the identity of citizens, businesses and government authorities.
• Integrity – certainty that the contents of the message have not been changed.
• Privacy – no-one can listen in on the communication.
Obviously culture changes of this nature – well, indeed major behavioral modifications in how “white collar” work is performed – are not easy for people to make.
However the Danish government is pushing forward towards the goal of “full electronic communication by 2012”.
The Ministry of the Interior and Social Affairs as one of the leaders in this drive towards paperless public administration has piloted the “cBrain F2” case management system since June 2009 with success.
In the coming weeks I will be covering aspects of the cBrain F2 system and discuss some of the implications of this new integrated concept where social media tools are combined with case management, record management, archiving and more.
Further information in English about the Danish Governments drive towards paperless administration is available here:
• http://www.modernisering.dk/da/english — including a summary of the Danish Government’s plan for digital administration (e-Government Strategy) 2007 – 2010.
• http://www.virk.dk/English;jsessionid=ED260572073B396430E739F06924A5A2 – Central government to business portal for everything digital.
• http://english.ism.dk/Further-development/digitalisation/Sider/Start.aspx — The Ministry of the Interior and Social Affairs is one of the leading advocates for the move towards paperless administration by 2012.