Consid in Op-Ed: “Tax Authority Leading the Digital Charge – When Will the Rest of the Public Sector Follow Suit?”

Consid's CEO Peter Hellgren and Anna Edstedt, Partnership Manager, write in a debate column in Ny Teknik about the digitalization of the public sector: "While the rest of society and the business community quickly realized the benefits of cloud-based technology, the public sector remained at the starting line, held back by outdated and unclear legislation. The Tax Authority's recently announced plans to implement cloud services are a welcome sign of progress and a necessary step into the current reality."

Anna Edstedt, Head of Q by Consid
Anna Edstedt, Head of Q by Consid

In 2021, the Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden) and the Tax Authority (Skatteverket) decided that their respective missions and operations could not be reconciled with cloud services. Partly, this was due to legal issues where American cloud services were not considered reliable for that type of information, partly out of habit.

The debaters write: “In the business world and on a personal level, Sweden is one of the world’s most digitized countries. Overall, we have shifted our industry from manufacturing to development. At the same time, the OECD ranks Sweden as the worst-performing in the industrialized world. When we say Sweden here, we don’t mean Klarna, Spotify, or Swish, but the public sector – trapped in a straitjacket of misguided IT investments and outdated legislation.”

They highlight what they call an ironic contrast between: “Sweden’s global reputation as a technological superpower and the public sector’s sluggishness is regrettable – and a direct reflection of what happens when an unstoppable force of digitalization meets an immovable bureaucracy.”

The Tax Authority recently announced that they will begin a cloud services initiative in 2024, a kind of pioneering project that both pleases and alarms the debaters:

“It’s somewhat sad that the Tax Authority’s decision to carry out a proof-of-concept regarding cloud services can be seen as good news. The law change already came in July last year, eight months ago, and one could have hoped that more public sector entities would have started their transformation journey towards a more modern digital environment.”

However, it’s important to note that it’s neither the individual agency’s fault, nor is it the fault of the public sector as an “industry” – rather, it’s about outdated legislation and a bureaucracy whose task seems to be inhibiting innovation, or as the debaters write, “Agencies are rather victims of a legal echo chamber playing in a loop, a constant reminder of how difficult it can be to move forward when the law book acts as a ball and chain.”

Perhaps now we are witnessing the digital revolution truly breaking through in the public sector.

You can find the entire debate article here

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