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Agencies’ digital services need to improve

Government agencies’ work on developing digital services is proceeding slowly and has quality deficiencies, making it difficult for private individuals to fully use the services. The agencies need to improve digital services, and the Government needs to intensify efforts to enable agencies to share information with each other.

Young woman sitting leaning over computer.

Photo: Maskot

The Riksdag’s goal is for Sweden to be the best globally at harnessing the opportunities presented by digitalisation. The Swedish National Audit Office has examined the central government’s work on developing digital services aimed at private individuals, which are used, for example, when a person has fallen ill or become unemployed, had a child, started studying or fallen victim to crime.

The overall conclusion is that this work has not been sufficiently effective. While the quality of the digital services is acceptable, there is considerable room for improvement on several fronts. The shortcomings concern aspects such as the following:

  • terms are often technical, or are internal agency speak, and difficult to understand
  • applications cannot be paused
  • there is no possibility of interaction between users and the agency
  • feedback cannot be submitted directly in the service
  • users need to submit the same piece of information multiple times
  • the services cannot be used securely by people with protected personal data

The Swedish National Audit Office also notes that the agencies work in different ways with digital services aimed at private individuals. There is no established best practice, and the various end products differ tremendously.

Moreover, there are numerous examples of inter-agency cooperation not yet being in place that could improve the quality of digital services. Such cooperation is hampered by the fact that legislation prevents the agencies from sharing information with each other.

“The fact that the agencies cannot share information impedes efficiency in several areas, which we have also seen in previous audits. The Government needs to remove these obstacles in order for efforts to be more effective,” comments Auditor General Helena Lindberg.

Furthermore, it is the assessment of the Swedish National Audit Office that the agencies do not sufficiently involve users when developing digital services.

“The agencies need to work more systematically to involve users. This would significantly improve usability and availability. Ensuring availability requires much more than merely individual selective measures,” explains Linnea Sandell, Project Leader for the audit.

The Agency for Digital Government (Digg) is tasked with coordinating and supporting the work of public administration on digitalisation. The audit shows that Digg has had a relatively passive role and that its work has had a modest impact at the agencies. Digg also allocates relatively little resources to work on digital availability. The Swedish National Audit Office considers that the shortcomings are partly due to the Government having had an ad hoc, short-term approach in its governance.

Recommendations in brief

It is recommended that the Government

  • intensify efforts to remove legal obstacles
  • clarify Digg’s role and the Government’s expectation in terms of supervision and promotion of digital availability.

It is recommended that the agencies that provide digital services to private individuals

  • ensure that users are involved in the development of digital services
  • ensure that the digital services can be used by individuals with protected personal data.

See the report for the recommendations in full.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

Updated: 12 May 2023

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