Dear Government, don't make me think

8/15/2022 | Christian Kreutz
Example tax form

Imagine your government is facilitating services, providing them whenever and wherever you need to. For example, sending you a notification when your passport is about to expire, offering you a parking permit when you move to a new neighbourhood, or automatically analysing your tax payments with practical saving recommendations.

But why is this far from happening in most countries?

Because governments use old practices to become more digital, administrations transfer to the Internet their previous offline procedures. Thousands of paper forms are converted, 1-to-1, into online forms or, worst, into PDF documents. The bureaucracy revives online.

Citizens spend minutes or hours understanding yet another administrative document, which requires them to insert redundant information that is most likely already in an administration database. Even the progressive eGovernment of the United Kingdom acknowledges the enormity of the challenge. Forms released by the UK government grow by 6% per year, and it would take decades to convert only the existing PDFs into HTML forms.

Yes, governments are complex with many IT systems, data silos, and many different competencies. They are in desperate need of IT competencies and need to build services that last for long. This transformation is a colossal task.

Governments need to rethink how they serve citizens. They need to turn public services upside-down. Otherwise, they will continue chasing PDF forms and replicate bureaucratic procedures in the digital age.