Over ten years have passed since the passing of the act on the digitalization of public institutions. This was a watershed, as such issues were approached and regulated systematically for the first time, preparing ground for complex tools providing citizens with digital public services. Regrettably the act has not met the expectations.
In the course of the works on the act, the prerogatives of the minister responsible for digitalization were significantly weakened. In the initial government draft, the minister could approve and reject drafts pertaining to digital administration and had a substantial impact on their form. However, this met with numerous objections, among others form local governments, As a result, most of the prerogatives were removed from the act – a decision the results of which can now, ten years on, be assessed as clearly negative. Despite sizeable investments supported with EU funds the development of Polish e-administration is unsatisfactory and our position in EU and international rankings –s always the same – we occupy one of the last places.
Changing that requires improved coordination and cooperation. The position of the minister responsible for digitalization has to be strengthened, for example by entrusting him the post of Deputy PM. Thus, he would have more influence on other ministers. The requirements of the European Digital Agenda, as well as twenty-first century economy, are so demanding hat digitalization has to be a priority both for central administration and for local governments.
The government should help local governments and maintain a dialog with them – which was neglected when the State Register System and the Źródło app were introduced a couple of months ago, creating many problems for both parties. Local government corporations should also make more of an effort to contribute. IT systems for local government have much in common – after all, the duties of local governments are the same all over the country – and differences resulting from eg. geography do not have to mean that dedicated systems should be used. Rather than use many distinct system, one system with modifications appropriate for the specificity of particular entities may be a better solution. If that were the case, a given formality could be dealt with in the same way in all counties and municipalities, using the same forms.
The challenges mentioned above are of fundamental importance – if we fail to deal with them properly, Poland will lose a great opportunity presented by the rapid development of digital technologies. We will fail to modernize administration and improve its efficiency, resulting on the one hand in lower quality of service for citizens and entrepreneurs and on the other hand in increasing frustration among officials who will be forced to apply nineteenth-century methods in a twenty-first century context.
Piotr Wołejko, expert of Employers of Poland