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Poor utilisation of the potential for the electronic exchange of information in the government administration - Document no. 3:12 (2007-2008)

‘Many public sector agencies possess information that is useful to other public agencies,’ says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo. ‘Better utilisation of this information could contribute to more secure, speedier and more efficient services for citizens and businesses.’
Published 8/4/2008 11:30 AM

The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into the electronic exchange of information and the development of services in the public sector, Document No 3:12 (2007–2008), was submitted to the Norwegian parliament (the Storting) on 1 July 2008.

The electronic exchange of information across departmental boundaries is necessary in order to ensure that citizens and businesses do not have to submit the same information several times to public authorities. Reuse of information in the public sector is necessary to ensure the quality and efficiency of case processing, but currently reuse of information is insufficient.

Many goals and measures relating to the electronic exchange of information have been described and reiterated in a number of plan documents since 2002, most recently in Report No 17 to the Storting (2006–2007) An Information Society for All. The investigation shows that the achievement of objectives has been poor.

The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation shows that important joint solutions are not yet in place, for instance security solutions,. As a consequence citizens and businesses have to make use of several PIN codes and identities in connection with using different public services. The reuse of information in the public sector requires the existence of secure solutions for the sharing of such information. The investigation shows that joint solutions and standards are not in place.

The investigation also shows that the Government’s efforts only to a small extent have contributed to the development of common ICT solutions in the government administration. The lack of progress in the establishment of secure joint solutions and standards has lead to several agencies having to develop their own ICT solutions. This can result in extra costs for society if such sectoral ICT solutions have to be adapted to broader national solutions once these are eventually in place.

‘Neither the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform or other ministries are driving forces in this field,’ says Jørgen Kosmo.

The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform has overriding responsibility for facilitating and coordinating the efforts to increase the electronic exchange of information in the public sector. The Ministry states that the Office of the Auditor General’s evaluations are highly relevant in connection with the coming work on coordinating the electronic exchange of information and the production of services. Moreover, the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform believes that several of the points raised by the Office of the Auditor General were dealt with in Report No 17 to the Storting (2006–2007).

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