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The goal of online services in the municipalities requires better central government policy instruments and measures

Municipalities offer a relatively low level of digital services to citizens and the private sector. Web-based self-service accounts for only for 27 per cent of the 19 services surveyed in 261 municipalities. "Stronger measures and better cooperation between the state and municipalities are needed to offer digital self-service, and thus more efficient and better public services," says Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss.

Published 1/12/2016 1:00 PM

Document 3:6 (2015–2016) The Office of the Auditor General's investigation of digitisation of municipal services was submitted to the Storting on 12 January.

The municipalities have digitised their services to a marginal extent, and that is particularly true of small municipalities. As it is a national goal for government to offer citizens and businesses online services, it is then essential to achieve this in the municipalities.

"The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation has not taken sufficient measures to ensure that this is achieved as expected. In our opinion, it is censurable that the Storting's targets for digital services are not followed up better," says Auditor General Foss.

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has surveyed the status of digital self-service within early childhood and education, health and welfare, and planning and building matters in 261 municipalities. Thirty-seven of the municipalities do not offer online access to any of the 19 services in these areas. Small municipalities have made the least progress: Twenty-nine of 128 municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants have digital services in some areas.

Half of the municipalities launched new digital services in 2014, and this was true of the large municipalities to a much greater extent than the small municipalities.

Around half of the municipalities transfer received information electronically to internal administrative systems, and less than 10 per cent have the capacity to send responses electronically after processing.

According to their own assessments, many of the municipalities lack sufficient expertise in this area, and digitisation is not a priority because the costs are too high. A majority of the municipalities report that they do not have a systematic process for realising the benefits of digitisation.

The audit also shows that a majority of the municipalities consider that cooperation between state and local government to create integrated digital services is inadequate. Sixty-one per cent of the municipalities believe that the requirements for digitisation are not sufficiently coordinated by the responsible ministries.

The OAG maintains that central government policies have not been sufficiently adapted to the national goals:

  • National common components, such as the population register and the ID portal, are operated by four agencies under three ministries. They are not facilitated well enough for the municipalities, and are only used to a limited extent.
  • While measures have been initiated in key areas, the knowledge, skills, capacity and state coordination that are essential in achieving integrated and complete digital services are lacking.

"We note that there is a need for a more concerted national effort to digitise public services. The Ministry of Local Government and Modernization should take clearer responsibility for more binding cooperation with the local government sector in this area," says Foss.

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