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Norway: Full Digitalization of Public Administration

(May 22, 2012) The Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, announced on April 12, 2012, that “[c]orrespondence between the public and the administration will be based on digital mail,” and that full digitalization of the public sector will be the next major government reform. Citizens who prefer paper-based communication will have to actively select it should they wish to continue using it. (Press Release, No. 45/2012, Office of the Prime Minister, Public Administration to Be Fully Digitalized (Apr. 12, 2012).)

In presenting the new digitalization program, Stoltenberg stated:

We will use information technology to make public services better, simpler and more efficient. We will meet the general public and the business sector where they are and when it suits them. Digitalisation will mean a more efficient public administration and will release resources to address major welfare issues … . (Id.)

The program will first tackle three major tasks: amendment of the Public Administration Act and review of other legislation to remove obstacles to public sector digitalization; establishment of “a secure system of digital mailboxes” to allow each individual and company to receive digital mail from the public administration, so that such mail will eventually replace paper correspondence; and the holding of a tender for “high-security electronic identification solutions.” Additionally, the government plans to develop “a system for contact information and reservations against digital post.” (Id.; Act of 10 February 1967 Relating to Procedure in Cases Concerning the Public Administration as Subsequently Amended, Most Recently by Act of 1 August 2003 No. 86, University of Oslo Library website. )

The Government set forth a group of principles on which its digitalized administration system will be based, including:

· Digital communication is to be the main means of communication with the public administration.

· The public administration is to provide comprehensive and user-friendly digital services.

· Logging on to public services online is to be simple and secure.

· Each individual and company is to receive mail in a single, secure digital mailbox.

· Individuals and companies will be notified of incoming mail by text message and email.

· Personal data will be protected and information security assured. (Press Release, supra.)