February 20, 2024

Digital bureaucracy

There's an IT system for digital communication with government authorities (MySmis).

To send an answer to any simple question, you need 5-7 overlapping digital signatures. 

You get an email telling you that you have a new message. You log in (electronic signature 1, not qualified). You download the question (usually a short text, very nicely formatted, header, footer, etc, and saved as pdf document, digitally signed, etc). You write the answer, save it as pdf, and sign the pdf with a digital qualified signature (2). You log in (3). Upload the answer. Optionally log in again. Download the receipt. Sign the receipt with a qualified signature (sic) (4). You log in (5). Upload the signed receipt. Receive a confirmation.

All this, for an answer that often consists of a standard text: "We confirm the budget, and the eligibility".

The entire process could be replaced by 1 email.

Digitization is not only about tools, it is also about processes.

I said a few years ago that if they would leave me unsupervised 3 days in a public institution, I would eliminate 90% of the processes and 90% of the jobs. And move staff to something better.

But that's how bureaucracies work. The purpose of bureaucracy is to grow the level of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is power. Processes, forms, and approvals: are sources of power.

Parkinson said that officials have 2 major career goals: to multiply subordinates, and to create work for each other.

See also this post.

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