Background

Sustainable governance structures are vital for a digitalized society

Digitalization of society characterizes our current realities. Development of sustainable governance structures is vital for governing advanced digitalization in societies and markets. In order to achieve a sustainable, legitimate and effective public administration that relies on citizen trust, it is important that state administration, both local and national, digitalize their services and address challenges connected to it. This is what is commonly named as e-government.

e-Government in Sweden

e-Government is a wide concept that comprises both simple information dissemination to the public through electronic platforms and advanced, interactive and integrated systems with different grades of automatization of operations. It can be about simple systems to get access to information about regulations and procedures, or opening hours for public services or turnaround time for welfare related issues with different authorities in the public administration. More advanced systems are increasingly used to make complex laws and regulation systems more transparent, accessible and needs-based for the individual citizen.

The Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) and The Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) are forerunners in advanced e-government by providing a wide range of e-services connecting complex taxation and insurance laws with partial automatization of operations in the processing of citizens and corporate cases. Through a sustainable design of e-services other political goals can be addressed. The ambition of ‘making it easy to do right’ - a motto that drives the Swedish Tax Agency in its services, involves an effort to create transparency and facilitate understanding and application of the tax laws. The process of transparency and increased understanding implicitly involves a mechanism for obstructing deliberate cheating bordering corruption.

e-Government for transparency, effectiveness and legitimacy in public administration

Other Swedish authorities strive to include goals of equality, diversity and integration through re-designing systems with gender-neutral concepts. Transparency, corruption and understanding of laws and their applications are some challenges that are also actual for public administrations and actors in the markets and civil society outside Sweden. Therefore, a vital question is how we create knowledge and solutions for public administrations to cope with digitalization challenges. In this thematic module we will address how e-government pervades public administrations and what challenges are embedded in them. The discussions will aim to provide deeper insights on digitalization challenges and opportunities in different countries and how these can be addressed in order to lead to sustainable and democratic public administrations.

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