Putting Citizens at the Centre (Egovernment) of Government Administration Reforms (SE0008)
Action Plan: Sweden, Second Action Plan, 2014-2016
Action Plan Cycle: 2014
Lead Institution: Ministry of Energy and Communications.
Support Institution(s): Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA);The Swedish E-identification Board; The eGovernment Delegation; The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions
Policy AreasAccess to Information, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Open Data
The commitment on putting citizens at the centre (eGovernment) aims to make everyday
life easier, open up administration in order to support innovation and participation, and increase operational quality and effectiveness as stated in the eGovernment strategy
‘Putting the citizen at the centre’. The strategy has three objectives:
- simplicity, in order to develop easy and user-friendly solutions;
- transparency and innovation, in order to take advantage of digital opportunities to increase transparency, strengthen democracy, and contribute to increased economic growth through open data; and
- increased efficiency through digitisation.
Transparency and openness are crucial to democratic accountability. Therefore transparency and access to information about government administration are vital. Supplying public sector information and digital services in standardised formats allows businesses and organisations to re-use it and to develop their own services. These services can supplement the range of services delivered by government agencies and meet diverse civic needs. The commitment will mainly be achieved through continuing the implementation of the eGovernment strategy ‘Putting the citizen at the centre’ including strengthening the governance of the digitisation efforts of the government administration.
- Develop a multi-annual reform-programme to be presented in Budget bill for 2015, called the Digital move in order to achieve the objectives of the Putting the citizen at the centre strategy, as well as support other public digitisation efforts.
- Appoint an inquiry to investigate how an improved governance of public digital information can improve the efficiency, transparency and innovation in the public sector, as a part of the eGovernment reform-programme.
- Promote the use of open data and agencies to release more data.
- Promote and coordinate
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 1. Putting Citizens at the Centre (e-Government) of Government Administration Reforms
This commitment aims at making everyday life easier, open up administration in order to support innovation and participation, and increase operational quality and effectiveness as stated in the e-Government strategy “Putting the citizen at the centre”. The strategy has three objectives:
1. Simplicity, in order to develop easy and user-friendly solutions;
2. Transparency and innovation, in order to take advantage of digital opportunities to increase transparency, strengthen democracy, and contribute to increased economic growth through open data;
3. Efficiency through digitisation.
Transparency and openness are crucial to democratic accountability. Therefore transparency and access to information about government administration are vital. Supplying public sector information and digital services in standardised formats allows businesses and organisations to re-use it and to develop their own services. These services can supplement the range of services delivered by government agencies and meet diverse civic needs. The commitment will mainly be achieved through continuing the implementation of the e-Government strategy including strengthening the governance of the digitisation efforts of the government administration.
Sweden is currently among the leading e-government nations. However, according to the Network Readiness Index 2015, Sweden lags behind many countries on information and communication technology (ICT) policies and on the number of government online services (“government usage,” 20 out of 143), as well as on the quality of services (“Government Online Service Index,” 28 out of 143).[Note 3: World Economic Forum, The Global Information Technology Report (2015). Network Readiness Index, http://reports.weforum.org/global-information-technology-report-2015/economies/#economy=SWE. ] A key challenge is to increase horizontal digital collaboration across government agencies in order to produce citizen-centric services and increase the level of participation in the production and design of such services. In response to this challenge, Sweden has committed to continuing the implementation of its e-government strategy—“putting the citizen at the centre”—and to improving governance of the digitisation efforts. More specifically, the commitment sets out to:
• Develop a reform programme called the “Digital Move” to achieve the objectives of the e-government strategy (1.1).
• Promote the release and use of open data (1.2 and 1.4).
- Appoint an inquiry to investigate how improved governance of digital public information can enhance efficiency, transparency, and innovation in the public sector (1.3).
- Promote and coordinate electronic identification and signature for e-services (1.5).
Commitment 1 is aimed at continuing the implementation of the Swedish e-government strategy, launched in December 2012.[Note 4: Link to e-government strategy in Swedish: Med medborgaren i centrum, Regeringens strategi för en digitalt samverkande statsförvaltning Diarienummer: N2012.37, http://www.regeringen.se/informationsmaterial/2012/12/n2012.37/.] The majority of milestones were achieved. The e-government reform programme was presented in the 2015 Budget Bill (milestone 1.1), and the efforts to promote the release and use of open data were completed. These efforts included the development of an e-government portfolio website (1.2), which aims to improve the efficiency of public data use and to avoid duplication, and a web platform (1.4) for collecting and promoting open government data (Öppnadata.se[Note 5: http://oppnadata.se/. ]) that aims to standardise the way government authorities publish information about open data sources.[Note 6: VINNOVA, “Slutrapport av regeringsuppdrag om den tekniska plattformen öppnadata.se - en portal för innovation,” Öppnadata.se, 25 June 2015. ]
The government inquiry to explore how improved governance can increase efficiency, transparency, and innovation in the public sector (milestone 1.3), and a flexible solution for electronic identification (e-ID) for public-sector e-services (milestone 1.5) had yet to be launched at the time of writing the midterm report. The envisaged e-ID solution would be used for online identification and for signing documents electronically, such as allowing citizens to declare income and notify change of address. Once developed, the new e-ID solution should increase efficiency and lay the groundwork for future e-ID regulations across the European Union (EU). For more information, please see the 2014–2015 midterm IRM report.
End of term: Substantial
Though the government has continued to make progress on implementing its “digital first” e-government strategy, the IRM researcher was unable to find any evidence of progress on the milestones that were incomplete at the midterm report (milestones 1.3 and 1.5).
The IRM researcher has not been able to ascertain the state of the inquiry on increased efficiency, transparency, and innovation in the public sector (milestone 1.3) despite inquiries made with the OGP point of contact in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the point of contact in the implementing agency.[Note 7: The IRM researcher contacted both the OGP point of contact at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by telephone on 9 September 2016 and by email on 17 September 2016 and on 2 October 2016; and the contact person from the implementing agency (the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation) by email on 8 September 2016.]
The delivery of an e-ID solution for e-services (milestone 1.5) has been delayed. The e-ID Board, the government agency responsible for the solution, has not yet convinced a number of key private stakeholders (mainly banks) to participate. Moreover, several public-sector agencies have raised issues regarding the security of the e-ID’s technological platform. The e-ID Board plans to complete a review of the solution by the end of 2016.[Note 8: Bank ID, “Översynen av Svensk e-legitimation har siktet inställt på framtiden.” Interview with the e-Identification Board Director, Eva Ekenberg, (Bank ID Nyhetsbrev, 2 June 2016), http://www.elegnamnden.se/.../Nyhetsbrev+BankID+Nr2+juni+2016.pdf. ]
Therefore, the IRM researcher found that this commitment remains substantially but not fully completed.
Did it open government?
Access to information: Did not change
Sweden is committed to increasing digital collaboration among government agencies in order to improve citizen-centric services. With this commitment, the government expected to promote a more open government that supports innovation and participation by working towards a shared and open digital infrastructure.[Note 9: The statement about expected impact is based on what is written in Sweden’s “Mid-term Self-Assessment Report: Open Government Partnership, National Action Plan 2013–2015,” p. 4.]
Overall, this commitment was found to have moderate potential impact. The milestone activities were important prerequisites for the implementation of the innovative, multi-annual e-government programme. The programme, adopted by Parliament in December 2014, is focused on the development of digital services to facilitate contacts between public authorities and citizens or companies. As written, however, several of the milestones within this commitment were of unclear relevance to OGP values. For example, milestone 1.2 about the e-government portfolio and milestone 1.5 about a new e-ID system are mainly targeting government authorities and concern internal government reform. The only milestone with clear relevance, milestone 1.4, sought to develop an open data platform, though the vague language of the commitment text made it difficult to ascertain the potential impact of the milestone.
In sum, the OGP value relevance was unclear for four out of five milestones, both as written[Note 10: See the 2014–2015 midterm IRM report for more information.] and as implemented. Since the “did it open government?” metric is assessed in terms of relevance to OGP values, the IRM researcher has coded this commitment using the activities outlined in milestone 1.4. However, given the significance of the e-government programme to the potential impact of this commitment, the IRM researcher has included an update on its implementation to note early results.
With regards to milestone 1.4, the open data portal was created already in 2012 and revamped in 2015 with the objective to standardise the way government authorities publish information about open data sources. Since its launch, the portal has registered an increased number of datasets and a variety of formats.[Note 11: http://oppnadata.se/about. ] However, the number of data sources is still limited, and much development remains to be done.[Note 12: http://oppnadata.se/about. ] The Global Open Data Index ranks Sweden as number 27 (down from rank 13 in 2014) with only 48 percent data openness overall and as low as 0–10 percent on datasets such as “Procurement Tenders,” “Government Spending,” and “Land Ownership.”[Note 13: Global Open Data Index 2015, http://index.okfn.org/place/sweden/. ] Milestone 1.4 did not spur the government to disclose more information and improved the quality of the information only marginally during the action plan period.
The most innovative activity related to this commitment—the multi-annual e-government reform programme—is still at a very early stage of implementation. In February 2016, the government presented the first part of the new “digital first” programme[Note 14: There was a slight title change from “the digital move” to “digital first” since the OGP action plan was launched. ] as described in milestone 1.1. The programme is focused on the development of digital services to facilitate contacts between public authorities and citizens or companies. About 20 municipalities will pilot the new digital services, which will be launched in 2017.
The government has already mandated several agencies to promote digital services in cooperation with industry, relevant authorities, and municipalities. For example, the Swedish National Land Survey, a government agency that provides information on Swedish geography and property, was commissioned by the government to speed up the digitisation process in housing construction with the goal of providing more housing in a faster, easier, cheaper, and more sustainable way.[Note 15: Regeringskansliet, “Digitalisering ska förenkla bostadsplaneringen,” Government Offices, 18 February 2016, http://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2016/02/digitalisering-ska-forenkla-bostadsplaneringen/.] The expected result is that citizens will be able to access information about construction works in their neighbourhood early in the planning process. Moreover, the Environmental Protection Agency was given the task of promoting smarter environmental information, such as monitoring both the state of the environment and the progress on environmental issues in all sectors of society.[Note 16: Naturvårdsverket, Digitalt först—smartare miljöinformation, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, 1 July 2016, http://www.naturvardsverket.se/Miljoarbete-i-samhallet/Miljoarbete-i-Sverige/Regeringsuppdrag/Digitalt-forst--smartare-miljoinformation/.] Citizens should, as a result of this programme, gain better access to environmental information on their mobile devices and become more aware about dangerous substances in their environment or in products.
However, these new digital services will not be launched before 2017, so it is too early to say whether it will change government practice to provide better services and information to citizens.
Additionally, the delayed e-ID solution (milestone 1.5) represents a challenge in terms of equality of access. In practice, only people holding a bank account can get an e-ID, which means that it is difficult for newly arrived migrants to access many of the public e-services. This issue is emphasised by an expert that was involved in the initial development plans for the e-ID, who stresses that the state should offer a solution accessible for all people and make sure that the e-ID is not delivered only by private actors (banks).[Note 17: “Statens e-legitimation tillbaka på ruta ett – fiaskoprojektet tas om från början,” Computer Sweden, 10 May 2016, http://computersweden.idg.se/2.2683/1.657863/svensk-e-legitimation-fiasko.] Presently, it is unclear whether the forthcoming e-ID solution will contribute to a more open government, especially in terms of equality of access to services.
At the time of writing the end-of-term report (September 2016), Sweden has not yet released its next action plan; hence, it is too early to say whether the commitment has been carried forward.
The IRM researcher recommends that future commitments in the area of e-government include more public-facing elements to better address the need for improved access to public information and citizen participation. In particular, a plan for engaging with civil society could be built into future commitments on e-government reform.
A key priority for the future should be to open up public data. In a recent opinion piece, representatives of both government authorities and companies jointly demanded that the government starts investing heavily in open data.[Note 18: “Vi kräver att regeringen storsatsar på öppna data,” Computer Sweden, 6 September 2016. ] To achieve the government’s goal of becoming the world leader in using the opportunities arising with digitalisation,[Note 19: This government goal means that public agencies, municipalities, and county councils should be the best in the world in the use of digitalisation possibilities for creating an easier life for individuals and businesses, a more climate-friendly society, more jobs, and more housing. Source: Aftonbladet. Så ska vårt land bli bäst i världen på it. Opinion piece by Mehmet Kaplan, the minister for housing and urban development, Mikael Damberg, minister for enterprise, Åsa Romson, minister of the environment, and Sven-Erik Bucht, minister for rural affairs Regeringskansliet (Aftonbladet, 8 February 2016), http://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2015/12/mehmet-kaplan-tar-emot-digitaliseringskommissionens-betankande http://www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/article22214980.ab. ] Sweden needs to develop a coherent national policy on open data and invest in the necessary financial and personnel resources.[Note 20: Johannes Semere, “Öppen offentlig data - Hinder och utmaningar som offentlig sektor upplever i samband öppen datapublicering” (Bachelor thesis, University of Lund, 2016), https://lup.lub.lu.se/student-papers/search/publication/8881728. ] Above all, there is a need for a systematic approach to opening data across government agencies, with clear guidelines on data specifications and solutions, and a model for the funding of joint solutions. This would make the publishing of open data more cost effective and raise the quality of the data. To support the process of opening up data, the government should invest in personnel, knowledge, and technology.[Note 21: VINNOVA’s final report on the Öppnadata.se portal published in June 2015 (VINNOVA, “Slutrapport av regeringsuppdrag”).]
Open Data Plan
SE0017, 2019, Access to Information
Make Open Data Accessible
SE0018, 2019, Access to Information
Capacity-Building in Digital Sector
SE0019, 2019, Access to Information
Dialogue with Civil Society
SE0020, 2019, Access to Information
SE0013, 2016, Access to Information
Re-Use of Public Administration Documents and Open Data
SE0014, 2016, Access to Information
Transparency in Aid Management
SE0015, 2016, Aid
Developing a New Format for Dialogue with CSOs
SE0016, 2016, Public Participation
Putting Citizens at the Centre (Egovernment) of Government Administration Reforms
SE0008, 2014, Access to Information
A Step Further on the Re-Use of Public Administration Documents
SE0009, 2014, Capacity Building
Increased Access to Swedish Aid Information
SE0010, 2014, Access to Information
Improved Opportunities for Dialogue and Transparency in Aid Management and Implementation
SE0011, 2014, Aid
Increased Aid Transparency at Global Level
SE0012, 2014, Aid
Continuing the Development of the Openaid.Se Platform
SE0001, 2012, Aid
Ensuring Full Implementation of the IATI Standard by 2015
SE0002, 2012, Access to Information
Implementing the Commitments in the Busan Partnership Document
SE0003, 2012, Access to Information
Playing a Leading Role in the Building Block on Transparency
SE0004, 2012, Capacity Building
Contributing to Further Define the Work Towards an EU Transparency Guarantee
SE0005, 2012, Capacity Building
Engaging in the Open Aid Partnership and Promoting ICT4D
SE0006, 2012, Aid
Broadening Open Government Commitments