The traffic light coalition wants to accelerate digitization. By doing 177-page coalition agreement The word “digital” appears in 188 places. The reorganization of digital political competencies and a wide variety of digital topics will run like a red thread through the upcoming government program. However, the SPD, Greens and FDP have moved away from the idea of establishing a new digital ministry. And the position of Minister of State for Digitization in the Federal Chancellery, which was previously held by Dorothee Bär (CSU), has also been deleted.
This means that an opportunity has been missed, said Thomas Jarzombek (CDU). So far, he is the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ representative for the digital economy. “The main thing now will be whether the goals from the contract can also be delivered. To do this, the blockade on many issues between the ministries must be removed by giving clear responsibilities.”
Volker Wissing is the new strong man for the digital at red-green-yellow: The previous FDP general is to become transport minister and will also take care of the “digital” there. However, his responsibility is mainly limited to the digital infrastructure. The entire complex of administrative digitization remains the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior. Christine Lambrecht (SPD) is under discussion there as head of department.
Before the election, the FDP had called for a “Ministry for digital transformation”. Now all ministers should take care of digitization. The coalition agreement states: “We expect the management of the ministries and public service executives to promote a modern management and administrative culture and provide digital solutions.”
During the election campaign, the Liberals demanded “comprehensive and high-performance mobile phone coverage” through real competition on the mobile phone market as well as a fiber optic network and a consistent upgrade of existing mobile phone networks. The nationwide development of 5G networks should be completed by 2025. Wissing will be measured by this: in future he will be responsible for “dead spots”.
It seems unclear how big the role of the federal mobile communications infrastructure company, initiated by his predecessor Andreas Scheuer (CSU), is in achieving the goals and closing the last “white spots”. Where the mobile network operators do not expand privately and there are no coverage requirements, the company should take the “initiative” and drive the expansion, with the involvement of companies and municipalities.
When it comes to expanding the network, Wissing can tweak two main screws: On the one hand, planning and approval procedures should be less bureaucratic and thus accelerated. But that was also what Scheuer had planned. At the same time, however, alternative laying methods for the glass fiber strands should also be made possible. This means that the roads are no longer to be laboriously dug deep with excavators. Instead, the thin pipes with the fiberglass are laid in milled slots along the roadside.
When it comes to cybersecurity policy, Red-Green-Yellow is daring a 180 degree turn on one important point. In future, all government agencies are to be obliged to report known security gaps to the Federal Office for Information Security. The BSI should then endeavor to “close it as quickly as possible”. Such loopholes had previously also been exploited by the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Intelligence Service in order to be able to monitor suspected serious criminals or suspects of terrorism.
The traffic light coalition is also setting new trends in public IT projects. In future, they are to be commissioned as open source and “generally made public”. The contract does not reveal whether closed programs such as Microsoft Office or the Windows operating system are banned from the offices of the authorities. The coalition paper also remains vague on the question of what a public administration cloud should look like.
Concretely, however, is the plan to remove a serious obstacle to the digitization of the administration, namely the requirement of the written form. So far, many administrative processes could only be completed if they were recorded on paper and signed with ballpoint pen or ink. This slowed down administrative procedures that were supposed to work exclusively with digital documents and electronic signatures.
The digital association Bitkom welcomed the project, but called for a specific time frame for the planned change. Overall, however, the coalition agreement met with a positive reaction from Bitkom President Achim Berg: Although it fell short of the high demands of the exploratory paper in terms of digitization, it offered a wealth of good approaches to make Germany fit for the digital world. “Now it has to be a matter of putting the digital core projects such as the digitization of administration and schools into practice and, at the same time, adding up where there are still gaps, such as in data policy and digital identities.”
Vodafone’s head of Germany, Hannes Amtesreiter, is also satisfied. The new federal government is sending a lot of the right signals: “It is strengthening digitization in the fight against climate change and promoting fiber optics where it is most needed.”
Peter F. Schmid, head of the Hamburg IT company Visable, is more critical of the outcome of the negotiations. In order to bring digitization in Germany to an internationally competitive level, it is not enough to abolish fax machines and be content with stable WiFi in schools. “Instead, digital progress must finally be prioritized and competencies bundled. A separate digital ministry would have sent a strong signal from the federal government – also to Europe.” (dpa / rs)