Digital­ization of the Public Sector

Photo by Umberto on Unsplash

The digital transformation is impacting more and more areas of life. Most recently, the COVID 19 pandemic has once again led to a significant acceleration of digitalization. However, the corona pandemic has also shown that there is considerable potential for support from digital technology in many areas. This includes the public sector in particular. Particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, it became apparent that the lack of digitalization was a significant stumbling block in responding appropriately to the crisis. Reports of faxed infection reports from laboratories to public health departments and from these to the Robert Koch Institute left large sections of the population shaking their heads.

International studies also repeatedly show that Germany is lagging considerably behind in the digitalization of the public sector. In many cases, it’s not even good enough for a place in the midfield123.

In my research, therefore, I am concerned with the broad challenges that digitalization holds for the public sector. Three aspects of public sector digitalization are particularly relevant to me: (1) the digitalization of service provision, processes, and structures of public administration, (2) the coordination of the digitalization of administrations on and between government levels, and (3) the interaction of a digitalizing administration with external actors. At the heart of this is the question of the prerequisites for successful digitalization of the public sector. It is particularly important to me not to see digitalization as a technical challenge alone, but to pay special attention to the people inside and outside the administration who are shaping and experiencing the digital transformation.

Successful digital transformation requires that it be practiced, supported and promoted by employees. It also requires personnel with an understanding of digitalization. This is where my interest in the digitalization of the public sector overlaps with that in human resources management in public administration, particularly in the areas of personnel recruitment and development.

The digitalization of the public sector is not a panacea and it also comes with risks that need to be understood and managed. This includes, for example, ethical aspects of the use of artificial intelligence and robots.

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Dominik Vogel
Assistant Professor of Public Management

I am Assistant Professor of Public Management at the University of Hamburg. My research focuses on the motivation of public employees, what makes leadership in the public sector successful, how citizens interact with public administrations, and how public organizations manage performance.