The resident parking permit is a shining example.

If you want to park your car near your home in Frankfurt despite the restrictive signs, you can get the necessary ID online.

Even if an innkeeper wants to set up chairs in front of his restaurant and there is enough space for this, he does not have to make an appointment with the office.

Even the car can be registered online.

The owners used to wait an average of one hour at the registration office, as the ADAC once determined for the whole of Germany.

Bernhard Biener

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung

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Dealing with official matters via computer or smartphone is not just a matter of convenience.

In 2017, the Bundestag decided that this option should be a matter of course.

He obliged the federal and state governments to “also offer their administrative services electronically via administrative portals”, as stated in the Online Access Act (OZG).

And set a deadline of five years for this, i.e. until the end of 2022. The Frankfurt department head Eileen O'Sullivan (Volt), responsible for digitization and citizen service, says openly: "The city will not meet this requirement by then."

Not only Frankfurt will break the deadline

Frankfurt is not alone in this.

Even the question of how many services have to be digitized leads to different answers.

In the "OZG implementation catalogue" from 2018, 575 "service bundles" were listed, each of which includes several individual services.

According to the Hessian Ministry of the Interior, this number is outdated due to changes in the law or because state-specific tasks have been added.

According to the current status, there are 712 individual services for Hesse, of which 407 are accounted for by state authorities and 305 by the municipalities.

A total of 383 services are digitized, i.e. a little more than half.

Digital Head of Department O'Sullivan speaks of 80 services offered online for Frankfurt that have an "advanced degree of maturity".

"Just being able to print out a PDF document is not enough." The registration certificate, for example, can be applied for and paid for in full.

"E-payment is possible with us," says O'Sullivan, which is not true for all municipalities.

Because it is an official document, the registration certificate still has to be sent by post.

Basically, the state of Hesse lets the technical service provider Ekom21, which emerged from the municipal area data centers, develop and finance the municipal services centrally.

The Vogelsberg district, reports Ekom21, actually wants to meet the time limit of the online access law in this way.

However, he only classified 28 services as relevant for the district administration.

A city like Frankfurt not only has to deal with many more services.

"Simple services for parents"

"We have to scale the building blocks in size, with almost a million people we are moving in completely different dimensions," says the head of department.

It's usually not worth pushing ahead.

So she got to know the Bremen model "ELFE" at a conference.

The city-state bundles the naming of the child and the applications for child and parental allowance under the heading "Simple benefits for parents" in a digital combined application.

The data is exchanged between the registry office, parental allowance office and employer.

"Bremen was the first city to digitize this task," says O'Sullivan.

But the program does not fit with the Frankfurt IT infrastructure.

"We prefer to put the working hours that we need to align the interfaces into smaller things that are more urgent." The Online Access Act stipulates that individual countries develop certain modules that are then adopted by others.

"One for all" is the principle of these "OfA services".

Hessen, for example, is responsible for the topics "Taxes and Customs" and "Mobility and Travel".

Because the law, even according to the assessment of the central political steering committee between the federal and state governments, the IT planning council, will not be completely fulfilled by the end of the year, it decided on an "OZG booster" in May.

This gives priority to 34 "OfA services".

Hesse is responsible for six of them, and according to the Interior Ministry, they will be completed on time.

Too little coordination between the federal and state governments

For O'Sullivan's Volt party, digitization is a focus of the program.

In the past eleven months since taking office, she has tried to understand what is wrong with that in Germany, says the politician.

"The Online Access Act was passed without considering the consequences for the administration." In addition, there was too little coordination between the federal and state governments.

"In my opinion, the actors were hardly networked and didn't know who was going in which direction."

It also needs a flattening of hierarchies.

In Frankfurt, 15 more services are to be available online by the end of the year, from dog tax to registering a funeral.

O'Sullivan also has high hopes for the "OZG Booster".

She hopes that the city will be ready by the end of 2023.

"That would be great." For the Head of Department, in her own words, digitization is not an end in itself, but also brings practical benefits in individual cases.

"This would free up employees in the Citizens' Registration Office for service."