Austrian federal government commits to implementing once-only principle in new e-government plan

The Austrian Council of Ministers introduced an e-government package in November 2016 that aims at significantly extending and improving digital services of citizens and businesses. Most prominently, in the foreseeable future, official exchanges of information and deliveries of administrative decisions will be handled via a central digital mailbox. Numerous interactions between citizens and public administrations could therefore become obsolete.

As another major step, the service portal Help.gv.at has been enriched with personalization features for citizens. In the sense of a "one / no-stop shop", a digital exchange of information amongst public administrations should minimize the repeated and burdensome direct contact between citizens and the state. Before long, even the tax declaration and return will be handled by the Austrian public administration in a fully automated way as a “no-stop-shop”.

To this end, existing databases are to be increasingly connected and information that is already known to one public administration should be exchanged with others according to the “once-only principle”. For example, data such as birth certificates, citizenship certificates, or company register extracts need no longer be submitted by the citizens concerned, but must be directly requested with their consent by a public administration from an electronic statutory register.

One of the most promising administrative process to be revamped, focusses on name and address changes. In the course of a move and the ensuing re-registration, for instance, notifications will be automatically sent to the respective local authority, while a confirmation will then be provided by to citizen without any request. Likewise, students will no longer have to submit success reports on paper for an extension of their special status.

Similarly, until 2019 the family aid application processes will be eliminated step by step, so that this aid can be granted without any request or claim by citizens and automatically extended whenever applicable based on existing data. Even today, financial aid to families with newborn children in Austria is granted in most cases without any request – after all, that facts that a baby is born, and that at least one of its parents lives in Austria, are recorded in existing registries that just needs to be able to exchange this information.

Moreover, the Austrian service portal for businesses (Unternehmensserviceportal, USP) is being expanded to reduce the administrative burden on companies. The USP is expected to integrate a majority of administrative processes for businesses in near-term, allowing to process all of their administrative information online - from notifications to the social security system and tax authorities, to the commercial registration. And, of course, with the help of electronic processing via the USP, the founding of new companies, including one-person companies, can become significantly easier and effective.

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