The digital era begins today

The digitisation of the public sector began today and is expected to save the nation’s councils over 350 million kroner a year by 2015

In Denmark, the first day of December traditionally hails the start of the much-anticipated Christmas marathon. It’s a jovial time of roasted pig, snaps, miserable weather and of course the 1,001 renditions of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’.

This year, however, the arrival of December looks to the future and celebrates the past.

Today begins the digitisation of the public sector as part of the government’s ambitious strategy plan to phase out the old paperwork-riddled communication between residents and the public sector.

The goal is to have 80 percent of all relevant public-sector communication digitised by 2015.

And as the first digital wave crashes onto the beaches of the public sphere, a number of areas, such as registering to move, applying for childcare and health insurance cards, will only be possible online.

Instead of filling in paperwork, people will use their NemID digital signatures to complete the requests online. The switch is expected to save the nation’s councils upwards of 350 million kroner a year by 2015.

“Obligatory digital self-service means that people who can help themselves online must do so. If online self-service is to be more efficient, then it must be cheaper for the councils while being easy to use for the public,” Astrid Marie Starck, a spokesperson for KL, the national association of local councils, told Version2 news media. “If we don’t have online self-service options that work, it won’t be cheaper for us to get the public to use it.”

People who don’t own a computer or have NemID needn’t worry, because council service centres, Borgerservice, will remain available despite the digital shift.

“There has been a lot of focus on making sure the elderly do not feel ignored and it’s important to underline that people can still come to Borgerservice or call and get the same service as before,” Starck told Version2.

The first wave of digitisation was ratified by parliament earlier this year and the second wave, which is due to be implemented in December 2013, will be decided in the next spring, according to Digitaliseringsstyrelsen, the agency responsible for implementing the shift.

Factfile | Digitisation

In ‘wave 1’ of the digital changes, residents will be able to do the following online:

Change of address
Order a new health insurance card and EU health insurance card
Apply for child care
Register for a school and after-school centre
Pay student loans (SU)
Pay for hunting licences, hunting tests and firearms tests
Book a camping site or activity within the area of the national nature agency, Naturstyrelsen
Register for enrolment in youth education and the supplication to further education

The ‘wave 2’ proposal, set to be implemented in December 2013 residents will be able to do the following online:

Apply for public assistance
Apply for aid for funeral service
Choose a doctor
Apply for free day care
Notify local council of rat infestation
Announce engagement to be married
Apply for a passport
Apply for a copy of driving licence
Apply to lease a property
Unregister from national register of people
Apply to remove a name and address from a public register 
Apply for after-school care
Request a statement of criminal record
Report a stolen bicycle
Apply for a name change
Register a birth
Request a burial or cremation
Submit paternity declaration
• Submit a preliminary income assessment form
Request a printed tax return
File an extended tax return
File an overseas tax return
Report other forms of taxes
Appeal a decision
Apply art subsidy
Submit an environmental complaint