Public administration ready for a digital spurt   (2016-01-13)

Finland has been in a leading position in digitalisation, but in public administration this development has declined in the past few years. According to a report carried out by the State Treasury, a lot of overlapping work is done in public administration at the moment, and the possibilities provided by modern technology are not sufficiently made use of. In addition, each authority develops its services and systems independently. Not only is this inefficient, but it also makes it more difficult for citizens to use the services offered by public administration. The report, handed over to Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen on 12 January, states that public administration must be reformed.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Finance, the State Treasury investigated what kind of measures could be taken to enhance digitalisation and increase productivity. When the agencies were interviewed, it was discovered that they were willing and ready for a digital spurt. In this context, digitalisation means a comprehensive reform of operating methods, which comprises, for example, the utilisation of mobile technologies and open databanks.

Digitalisation is a cross-cutting theme in the government strategy and in line with the Government Programme. 'The report carried out by the State Treasury is an excellent initial mapping of the situation when we are preparing to make digital public services a part of everyday life. The implementation of the concrete measures proposed in the report must be started off speedily in all administrative branches. One important observation made in the report is that we should avoid excessive planning and rather learn by taking action and experimenting,' explains Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen.

Services must be developed from citizens' point of view

'If the information in the authorities' systems were shared electronically between the authorities, citizens would not have to go from one agency to another. At the moment, legislation prevents the exchange of information in many places. Legislation must be updated in order to enable an extensive digitalisation of services,' says Director General of the State Treasury Timo Laitinen.

Services must first and foremost be developed from the point of view of citizens and users. The individual identities of the different public sector actors are not meaningful to the clients. Central government and perhaps the entire public sector should in this respect be examined as one entity and the boundaries between administrative branches and agencies should be forgotten. Central government and municipalities must cooperate more closely in the future.

'It emerged on several occasions in the report that different authorities maintained almost the same information. For example, the basic information about companies and communities is registered both in the Trade Register of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office and in the Business Register of Statistics Finland. Additionally, when establishing a business, the entrepreneur must use services of several authorities, and advice is also offered by many different agencies. There are several similar examples in the final report that we publish today. The overlapping responsibilities of the authorities must be clarified and information within the public service utilised more efficiently,' says Director General Laitinen.

In its final report, the State Treasury presents several measures for further digitalisation in public administration. Some of these reforms can be implemented quickly, others require a new kind of thinking as well as thorough preparation and cooperation by several authorities. The most important thing is to get started right away. In addition, the State Treasury recommends that the responsibility for developing and promoting digitalisation in public administration is given to a central government actor.

Further information:

  • Special Adviser Tuomas Vanhanen, tel. +358 2955 530 216,
  • Specialist Tero Meltti, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 2955 30770,
  • Director General Timo Laitinen, State Treasury tel. +358 295 50 2200,
  • Head of Division Mikko Kangaspunta, State Treasury tel. +358 295 50 2277, mikko.kangaspunta@valtiokonttori

The final report Valmiina digikiriin ('Ready for a digital spurt'): (in Finnish)

Between August and July 2015, the State Treasury interviewed 48 agencies to collect concrete development suggestions to help improve the productivity and effectiveness of central government agencies and institutions. More than one thousand development suggestions were received. As a result of the analysis, the State Treasury presents in its final report 34 action entities with which significant effectiveness and productivity benefits can be achieved in central government. The final report was handed over to Minister of Local Government and Public Reforms Anu Vehviläinen on 12 January 2016. The work will continue under the direction of the DigiNyt (Digitalisaatio 2020) follow-up group set by the Ministry of Finance.

Published 2016-01-13 at  9:09 , updated 2016-01-13 at  9:09 Suomeksi   På svenska   In English

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