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Germany

Electronic Procedures for Family Benefits (DE0009)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Germany National Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ)

Support Institution(s): State family ministries, municipalities, Init AG (private sector), project advisory board ElterngeldDigital/Digitalisierung familienbezogener Leistungen (working group), local authorities’ national associations, research partners

Policy Areas

E-Government, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Germany Implementation Report 2017-2019, Germany Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Description: Effectively ensuring modern and transparent access to information and application processes for parental allowance and other family benefits. In the future, parents can use an online platform to find information, in particular on the parental allowance, more easily and to be guided through the application process by an application wizard. We are also examining for which other family benefits an electronic application would be suitable. Aim: Giving citizens transparent and easily understandable access to information about family benefits. By using new technologies (online application wizard) as well as legally secure language that is easy to understand, we want to make applying for benefits easier and more transparent for citizens. The goal is to create a seamless electronic application process. Status quo: At the moment, electronic application for parental allowance is possible only in certain federal states. In the future, a standardized application wizard is intended to help parents in easily understood language complete the application and plan the parental allowance. The service will be gradually released in the pilot federal states in summer/autumn 2017. Project advisory board ElterngeldDigital/Digitalisierung familienbezogener Leistungen (digital parental allowance/electronic procedures for family benefits), a working group formerly called Elterngeldantrag Online/Digitalisierung familienbezogener Leistungen (online application for parental allowance/electronic procedures for family benefits) (established in September 2016). Ambition: Parents will have a transparent and understandable service for a key life event. New or ongoing: ongoing Implemented by: Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) Organizations involved in implementation: State family ministries, municipalities, Init AG (private sector), project advisory board ElterngeldDigital/Digitalisierung familienbezogener Leistungen (working group), local authorities’ national associations, research partners Organizational unit and contact: Division DG2, dg2@bmfsfj.bund.de, Friederike Schubart, Friederike.Schubart@bmfsfj.bund.de Open government values addressed: Transparency, accountability, technology/innovation Relevance: The action promotes transparency of the parental allowance and other family benefits and makes access to information easier. It also reduces processing times at the parental allowance offices

IRM Midterm Status Summary

9. ElterngeldDigital/Electronic Procedures for Family Benefits

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“Effectively ensuring modern and transparent access to information and application processes for parental allowance and other family benefits. In the future, parents can use an online platform to find information, in particular on the parental allowance, more easily and to be guided through the application process by an application wizard. We are also examining for which other family benefits an electronic application would be suitable.”

Milestones:

9.1 Study on electronic procedures for family benefits (Digitalisierung familienbezogener Leistungen), available

9.2 Preparations for creating more electronic procedures for family benefits

9.3 Start of ElterngeldDigital roll-out in pilot federal states

9.4 Rolling out ElterngeldDigital in more federal states

9.5 New information portal for families

Start Date: May 2016

End Date: December 2019

Context and Objectives

Germany is committed to offering online more than 500 administrative services from the local to federal level by 2022. [37] This commitment aims to provide transparent and easily understandable access to information about family benefits and parental allowances (financial support to new parents engaged in childcare). According to the action plan, the commitment seeks to “use new technologies (application wizard) as well as legally secure language that is easy to understand… to make applying for benefits easier and more transparent for citizens. The goal is to streamline the application process for family benefits.”

In Germany, state-level governments handle applications for parental allowances. Many rules govern receipt of the benefits, which are income dependent. Thus, the extensive application requires the submission of several supporting documents and certificates. While many states allow submissions to be mailed, the relative complexity of the application often requires additional visits to the respective local office and involves long processing times. [38] Also, prior to the commitment, only three German states had established online application systems. [39]

The main milestones (9.3, 9.4, and 9.5) are generally verifiable, although they lack some specificity. For example, the milestones do not provide the number of federal states in which the ElterngeldDigital portal will be piloted (9.3) or a detailed description of the “new information portal for families” (9.5).

This commitment aims to streamline administrative services. Additionally, the commitment calls for the creation of a new portal that would provide information regarding parental benefits and how to apply for benefits. If fully implemented, the new portal could improve access to information on family benefits and parental allowances. However, the description of the pilot portal is vague, and the commitment is difficult to assess. Thus, the potential impact of the commitment is considered minor.

Next steps

The IRM researcher recommends pursuing this goal outside the framework of OGP and not carrying this commitment forward to future action plans.

[37] “Flächendeckende Digitalisierung der Verwaltung Deutschlands bis 2022,” IT-Planungsrat, https://www.it-planungsrat.de/DE/ITPlanungsrat/OZG-Umsetzung/OZG_Umsetzung_node.html.

[38] For examples see Berlin: Rainer W. During, “Elterngeld-Antrage Bleiben Monate in Bezirkken Liegen,” Der Tagesspiegel, 11 December 2012, https://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/chaos-in-bearbeitungsstellen-elterngeld-antraege-bleiben-monate-in-bezirken-liegen/7502674.html; Bavaria: Susanne Holl, Saarbrucken, and Mike Szymanski, “Warum die SPD so Dunnhautig auf den Juso-Chef Reagiert,” Suddeutsche Zeitung, https://www.sueddeutsche.de/bayern/sparpolitik-langes-warten-aufs-elterngeld-1.3481664; and Hamburg: Andreas Dey, “Mutter und Vater Mussen Lange auf Elterngeld Warten,” Hamberger Abendblatt, 1 February 2019, https://www.abendblatt.de/hamburg/article216342785/Muetter-und-Vaeter-muessen-lange-auf-Elterngeld-warten.html. For a citizen report from across Germany, see (outdated) platform at http://www.wartenaufelterngeld.de/.

[39] Sabine Menkens, “Geld furs Baby Ohne Lastigen Gang sum Amt,” Welt, 16 October 2018, https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article182209578/Elterngeld-digital-Geld-fuers-Baby-ohne-laestigen-Gang-zum-Amt.html.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

9. ElterngeldDigital/Electronic Procedures for Family Benefits

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“Effectively ensuring modern and transparent access to information and application processes for parental allowance and other family benefits. In the future, parents can use an online platform to find information, in particular on the parental allowance, more easily and to be guided through the application process by an application wizard. We are also examining for which other family benefits an electronic application would be suitable.”

Milestones:

9.1 Study on electronic procedures for family benefits (Digitalisierung familienbezogener Leistungen), available

9.2 Preparations for creating more electronic procedures for family benefits

9.3 Start of ElterngeldDigital roll-out in pilot federal states

9.4 Rolling out ElterngeldDigital in more federal states

9.5 New information portal for families

Start Date: May 2016

End Date: December 2019

The commitment aimed to make it easier for parents to navigate the often-complex application process for parental benefits. To do so, it called for building a one-stop information service, developing online assistance systems for preparing the application (ElterngeldDigital), and promoting the roll-out of these online systems in a growing number of German states.

The degree of completion is assessed as complete. A study on electronic procedures for family benefits was produced in 2017 (milestone 9.1) and a new information portal for families went live in autumn 2018 (milestone 9.5). [68] The roll-out of the centerpiece of the commitment, the online system for facilitating the application for parental benefits (milestone 9.3 and 9.4), occurred with delays in some of the piloting states (Berlin and Saxony), and eventually in other states by December 2019 (namely, Bremen, Hamburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Thuringia). The plan to develop concepts for digitizing other family-related benefits has also experienced some delays, and as of December 2019, focused on child benefits (milestone 9.2). [69] The main reasons reported for these delays were resource constraints at the state level and the complexities in devising shared approaches for application processes that were previously implemented in a wide variety of formats. [70]

The commitment contributed to marginal improvements in access to information on family benefits and parental allowance. The provision of consolidated information on ElterngeldDigital and the ability to find and complete a number of related documents and tasks online can help streamline application processes that previously required in-person office visits. [71] As a result, the implementation of this commitment helps enhance the accessibility and usability of information for a visible and frequently discussed public service whose (un)ease of use is likely to influence public perception of the efficacy and accessibility of the administration as a whole. Though not directly attributed to this commitment, it is worth noting that the reported satisfaction with childbirth-related services in Germany in 2019 was higher than other administrative services. [72] Similarly, Germany scores above the EU average on its 2019 e-Government performance in family-related life events, which includes services related to childbirth. [73]

[68] Familien portal, http://www.familienportal.de

[69] German Federal Government 2019, First National Action Plan 2017-2019- Final Report by the German Federal Government; an example of another digital family service in preparation, KindergeldzuschlagDigital (additional child benefit), referenced in https://www.bundesregierung.de/resource/blob/975292/1605036/61c3db982d81ec0b4698548fd19e52f1/digitalisierung-gestalten-download-bpa-data.pdf?download=1 (p173).

[70] Email response by government official to semi-structured questionnaire, December 2019.

[71] Participant observation by IRM reviewer who applied for Elterngeld three times in Berlin prior to the introduction of the system.

[72] Lebenslagenbefragung 2019, https://www.amtlich-einfach.de/DE/Ergebnisse/Buerger/Ergebnisse_node.html

[73] European Commission 2019, eGovernment Benchmark 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/dae/document.cfm?doc_id=62368


Commitments

  1. Participatory Development of Research and Innovation Policy

    DE0022, 2019, Public Participation

  2. Participatory Creation of Regulatory Policy

    DE0023, 2019, Open Regulations

  3. Digital Strategy Pilot for Rural Regions

    DE0024, 2019, Public Service Delivery

  4. Open Government in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0025, 2019, Access to Information

  5. Policy Co-Creation in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0026, 2019, Land Rights and Spatial Planning

  6. Data Sovereignty in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0027, 2019, Access to Information

  7. Open Government Portal in Saxony

    DE0028, 2019, E-Government

  8. Open-Source Software in Public Administrations in Schleswig-Holstein

    DE0029, 2019, Subnational

  9. Regional Open Government Labs

    DE0016, 2019, Public Participation

  10. Civil Society Consulation on Foreign Policy

    DE0017, 2019,

  11. Create Youth Strategy

    DE0018, 2019, Marginalized Communities

  12. Craete Federal Agency for Digital Innovation

    DE0019, 2019,

  13. Transparency and Participation in International Aid

    DE0020, 2019, Access to Information

  14. Strengthen and Socialize Open Data Policy

    DE0021, 2019, Access to Information

  15. Conditions for OGP Participation

    DE0001, 2017,

  16. Open Data in Administrative Practice

    DE0002, 2017, Access to Information

  17. Open Data Environment

    DE0003, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Access to Spatial Data

    DE0004, 2017, Access to Information

  19. Financial Transparency - EITI Standard

    DE0005, 2017, Access to Information

  20. Transparency in Development Policy

    DE0006, 2017, Access to Information

  21. Open Data for Intelligent Mobility

    DE0007, 2017, Access to Information

  22. Citizen Participation in Environmental Policy and Urban Development

    DE0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  23. Electronic Procedures for Family Benefits

    DE0009, 2017, E-Government

  24. Knowledge Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People

    DE0010, 2017, E-Government

  25. Local Alliances for Family Initiative

    DE0011, 2017, Public Participation

  26. Share of Women and Men in Leadership Positions, Private and Private Sectors

    DE0012, 2017, E-Government

  27. Open Access to Academic Literature

    DE0013, 2017, E-Government

  28. Science Year 2018

    DE0014, 2017, Public Participation

  29. Federal Competition “Living Together Hand in Hand”

    DE0015, 2017, Citizenship & Immigration

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