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The Digitalization and Automation of Public Administration

Beispielbild Digitalisierung
Photo: Suelzengenappel(426198026)

Project overview

Project title: The Digitalization and Automation of Public Administration

Research object/goal: The project’s focus lies on the transformation of public administration as a result of digitalization and automation and the effects on employees and administrative processes. We explore performance-related, organisational, personnel and participation-related changes. For this purpose, four administrative areas are examined that are already more advanced on the path to implementation: the municipal building administration, internet-based vehicle registration, tax administration with a focus on electronic tax returns and parental services around the birth of a child.

Heads of project: Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann (University of Potsdam), Prof. Dr. Jörg Bogumil (Ruhr University Bochum)

Project team: Liz Wehmeier (University of Potsdam), Philipp Gräfe (Ruhr University Bochum)

Cooperation partners: Ruhr University Bochum, Chair for Public Administration, Local and Regional Politics

Duration of project: 10/2021 to 09/2023

Funded by:  Hans Böckler Foundation

The digitalization of the public administration is one of the most urgent political priorities in the new decade. After all, e-government (electronic government) is seen as the key to digital progress in the society and as a central parameter for accelerating administrative procedures and achieving greater citizen-friendliness. However, Germany's performance in this respect has not been very promising so far. Important reforms such as the Online Access Act (2017) and the Register Modernization Act (2021), as well as the e-government laws of the Länder, are hence intended to promote digitalization at the federal, state, and local levels.

The project looks at the transformations in the public administration as a result of digitalization and automation and analyses the effects on employees and administrative processes. The focus is on the performance-related, organizational and personnel changes as well as the opportunities for co-determination in the administration. 

Methodologically, the project is based on (1) secondary analyses of administrative digitalization; (2) 12 case studies in selected municipalities, which are intended to provide more detailed insights into the concrete interrelations of digitalization "on site"; (3) a standardized administrative survey on the effects of digitalization in the fields of study in all German municipalities with over 15,000 inhabitants, the addressees of which are street-level bureaucrats and staff councils; allowing us to obtain a broader overview of the effects of digitalization and to assess the case study findings and examine their generalizability.

The project is being carried out jointly by the Ruhr University Bochum and the University of Potsdam. At the University of Potsdam, Liz Wehmeier is responsible for the project. The research is supported by funds from the Hans Böckler Foundation.



Campus Griebnitzsee
August-Bebel-Straße 89
14482 Potsdam
House 7, Room 2.18