History and Organisation
How eGovernment Is Organised in Austria – Who Is Making Austria Digital
The decision to go ahead with a cooperative eGovernment endeavour was made in Austria in 1998. The task force "E-Austria", made up of leading experts in Austria, recommended instituting an "Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Board", which would be responsible for creating the legal and technical requirements as well as coordinating the planning and development of eGovernment solutions between the Federal Government, the provinces, and local authorities. The members of the ICT Board were comprised of the Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of the provinces, who were nominated by their respective ministers. The ICT Board was headed up by the Federal Chief Information Officer, who was nominated by the Federal Government. The Federal CIO coordinated the ideas and strategies that came from the ICT Board with the provinces, municipalities and local authorities. Working groups were formed to provide advice and assistance to ministries as well as to provinces, cities and local authorities whenever the need arose.
Already in this early phase, the ICT Board instituted a mechanism that could be called an eGovernment solution: the exchange of information between the parties is carried out over a dedicated communication platform. This platform is continually being developed and has become one of the most important information sources for the Federal Government, the provinces, municipalities and local communities. All the recommendations that the working groups coordinated on are published to this address in the form of conventions, information, best practices, white papers and use cases.
Due to Austria's early start with eGovernment, many of its electronic services and solutions became showcase examples inside the EU. This include the Legal Information System, the FinanzOnline platform, and the Land Register in the Justice Department. A historical milestone was achieved with the introduction of the , which was awarded the eEurope eGovernment Award in July 2003.
The eGovernment Offensive
The "eGovernment Offensive 2003" was started in addition to the ICT Board with its own Executive Secretary for eGovernment. The goal of this initiative was to make Austria one of the European leaders in eGovernment and to secure a position in the top five. Austria was able to achieve this goal largely due to the efforts and preparations that had going on since 2001. By 2004, Austria had already reached fourth place in EU benchmark tests. By 2005, Austria had worked its way up to second place, which put it on track to claim the title of European Champion in 2006, 2007 and 2009. This success made Austria one of the showcase countries for eGovernment in the EU. On December 15, 2010, during the eGovernment conference in Brussels, the EU Commissioner Neelie kroes announced the results of the EU 2010 eGovernment Benchmark study. Austria's international leading role was once again confirmed by being awarded first place.
The basis for the success was due above all to the ICT strategy adopted in 2001. Austria did not concentrate its efforts on a multitude of short-lived solutions, but rather on building an open and scalable infrastructure that could be expanded on, and at the same time would be secure and sustainable in the long-term. This success story is inspiring enough in itself, but at the same time it also demonstrates the need to continuously keep up-to-date, especially in fast moving areas like technology.