“As a Government we need to participate in the Digital Transformation of our society and adapt to digital evolutions”

In an interview with Points of View Magazine, Marc Hansen, Luxembourg’s Minister Delegate for Digitalisation, spoke about the importance of digitalisation as a transformative driver of society and public services, as well as some of the initiatives implemented in the country so far, such as the MyGuichet.lu app.

48

The Ministry for Digitisation arises from the government’s desire to place digitalisation at the center of its concerns. To what extent is the digital revolution transforming sectors of activity and governments?

Digitalisation is part of our everyday life and as a government, we need to take part in the digital transformation of our society and adapt to digital evolutions in order to continue to offer public services that fit citizen’s needs and match their daily habits.

COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns definitely accelerated the digital transformation. We all needed to adapt, leading citizens to complete even more administrative procedures online, which is illustrated by the exceptional growth of transmissions of administrative procedures on the transactional platform MyGuichet.lu – from 550.000 in 2019 to 2.250000 in 2021 and 3.800000 in 2021. The latest statistics confirm that this trend is here to stay.

In this sense, what has been done to date by the Ministry for Digitalisation? What measures have already been implemented to make Luxembourg increasingly a technological and innovative country?

The Ministry and the Government IT Center (CTIE), which is in charge of the MyGuichet.lu and Guichet.lu portal, have continuously been adding new functionalities and administrative procedures to MyGuichet.lu.  We also launched the MyGuichet.lu app, enabling citizens to complete their administrative procedure where they want, when they want and how they want.

Since the creation of the Ministry, we have put a lot of emphasis on a coordinated and collaborative approach, considering the intertwining of digitalisation. We thus proposed to the Government Council in February 2020, the establishment of a digital governance system, one of the key elements of which was the creation of an inter-ministerial Committee for Digitalisation.

Itis composed of those responsible for strategic projects concerning the digital transformation of all ministries and meets on a regular basis to take stock of the state’s digital projects and to set a coordinated agenda of initiatives to further develop eGovernment.

The High Committee for Digital Transformation is a second governance body, which is composed of representatives of ministries, but also of active members of civil society or those with a specific interest in the process of the digitalisation. By virtue of its composition, the High Committee is dedicated to consider the challenges of digitisation from a variety of perspectives relating to the economy, work, education, health, lifelong learning and digital public services. Its members meet twice a year to propose, analyse and discuss potential initiatives and projects to advance digital transformation, while considering the digital inclusion of all citizens.

Next to a coordinated approach, it was also essential to define standards for digitalisation, which would direct our actions over the next years. In this sense, the Ministry for Digitalisation proposed a national interoperability framework (NIF) in early 2019, which was adopted by the government council. This framework guides public sector organisms of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which fall within its scope, on how to attain a higher level of interoperability. This is not only important for Luxembourg but also for our European collaboration, considering that the need for all electronic administrations to interact with other organisations and to exchange data or documents is increasing and becoming more and more pressing.

Furthermore, early in 2021, the Government Council adopted the ‘Electronic Governance 2021-2025’ strategy, drawn up jointly by the Ministry for Digitalisation and CTIE. This strategy determines the essential elements of the State’s successful digital transition in order to provide the citizens with access to quality digital services and ensure the gradual transition to digital governance, as advocated by international bodies.

Moreover, the launch of the GovTech Lab in November 2020, set up by the Ministry for Digitalisation and the CTIE, marked an important turn in how innovations are integrated in government technologies and the way the private sector and the public sector collaborate. The GovTech Lab aims to accelerate the development and further improvement of digital public services and regroups a GovTech Lab community around its activities. It also represents an opportunity for public servants to get acquainted with new technologies and to experiment with them.

What do you think are the major challenges that companies and organisations face in adapting to new technological needs? What has been the role of the Ministry in this area?

The digital transformation concerns companies but also ministries and government agencies across the board. The Ministry for Digitalisation acts as a “facilitator” and a coordinator for ministries and other partners wishing to develop their digital activities.

A common challenge relates to digital skills, with the need to attract talents with the required technological skills and expertise additionally to the need for ongoing training of the staff in order to keep them up to date with technological advancements.

The AI4Gov initiative is a good example of what is being undertaken in order to promote new technologies among civil servants and to teach them how to use them for their field of activity. The initiative is aimed at encouraging ministries and administrations to make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science to transform in order to develop new methods and analytical processes for dealing with existing issues, increase their efficiency in processing data, and thereby improve both their services and their procedures.

Despite all our efforts towards attaining a digital government, it is important to keep in mind that we are not all equal when it comes to digitalisation. Actually, one of the Ministry’s main areas of focus concerns also digital inclusion, the process of making digital technology accessible to all individuals and providing them with the necessary digital skills to additionally leverage their social and economic inclusion. This mission reflects the government’s commitment to include all citizens in the digital transformation of our society and, in turn, counteract the threat of an eventual digital divide.

The Ministry for Digitalisation has set the goal of successful digital government as recommended by international bodies. How is Luxembourg adapting to this?

The Ministry’s has defined four strategic axes in order to achieve a digital government, which stands out for its more efficient, user-friendly, integrative and inclusive approach according to the OECD.

By developing eGovernment, advancing administrative reform, promoting digital inclusion and integrating new technologies the Ministry is in line with this approach and has implemented a series of projects in each strategical axis that meet its goals.

In order to monitor our actions we have commandited a “Digital Government Review of Luxembourg” to the OECD, which evaluates the efforts made by our government to transition towards a digital government approach. The review provides an in-depth analysis and policy recommendations to improve institutional governance, digital investments, digital talent and skills, government service delivery and the strategic use of data.

We will use its findings to achieve an even more digitally mature and data-driven administration to better serve citizens and businesses.

In addition, the Ministry supports “open innovation”. What does this concept mean and why the creation of it?

Open innovation entails using external knowledge to avoid working in silos. Applied to public services it seeks to introduce innovative ideas, skills or technologies from businesses, start-ups, the self-employed/freelancers, students or researchers willing to support and strengthen innovation in public services.

The Ministry for Digitalisation has introduced the open innovation approach, which is already widely present in the private sector, to public service through its GovTech Lab. The GovTech Lab combines government technologies and open innovation and sets out to encourage and support a culture of innovation and change within the State in order to rethink existing procedures and operational flows and integrate principles such as digital by default, design thinking or service by design when conceiving new solutions. Innovation in procurement is an important subject and in this sense, the GovTech Lab launches innovation partnerships for national and international actors (companies, start-ups, research institutes to participate in the development of new and innovative solutions.

In its remit of administrative simplification, the Ministry for Digitalisation has also adopted a collaborative approach focusing on citizens’ experience to simplify procedures in a participatory and co-creative way. To this end, the Ministry is proposing that all citizens get directly involved by contributing on the participative platform Zesumme Vereinfachen (Let’s simplify together!) whose slogan reflects its concept: “For public services that make your daily life easier”.

One of the main goals of creating this Ministry is to make people’s lives easier. After two years of work, is it legitimate to say that it has been successful?

Whether we extend the list of administrative procedures in digital form or we develop new functionalities on MyGuichet.lu or we offer official documents in a digital, secure and verifiable way: all the projects of the Ministry have only this one goal: to facilitate processes for citizens and companies by providing them with digital governmental services, which are user-friendly, innovative and accessible to all.

International benchmarks, such as the eGovernment benchmark 2022 where Luxembourg was ranked 3rd,climbing two places from 2021 and eight places from 2020 and the OECD government review show that we are on the right tracks, but our work never stops and there is still a lot we want to achieve.