Administrative Digitalisation: A Double-Edged Sword

by Vanessa Baldassarri ép. Demoling*

The digitalisation of administrations, which has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, is one of the major challenges that the government has set itself. It is only logical that local authorities should also be required to modernise and keep pace with this process. Although the dematerialisation of public services has many advantages, it remains a double-edged sword.

While for some people ‘digitisation’ means speeding up procedures, increasing accessibility to public services, impact on climate protection etc., there is a catch. Indeed, the digital transformation of public services inevitably leads to a change in the relationship between citizens and administrations, since there will no longer be a direct relationship between the citizen and its administration, with the citizen becoming an “anonymous and dehumanised” interlocutor.

However, dehumanisation of these relations increases the risk of infringement of the rights of users of the administration. Administrations must therefore ensure that citizens are informed of their rights and the means of redress are available to them.

Increasing the digitalisation of public services also risks creating a social divide, in particular by excluding people who either do not have the necessary digital skills or do not have the appropriate equipment to connect, not to mention those for whom accessibility to technologies due to their disability constitutes a barrier.

In order to limit these risks, I believe that digitalisation should not totally replace human contact, which should continue to exist, in particular by giving citizens the choice of either being able to carry out their procedures online or going to a counter where a knowledgeable person can answer their questions and guide them through the procedures.

* Vanessa Baldassarri (ép. Demoling), 40, lives in Leudelange and is the mother of two children. She is a parent representative and a member of the School Commission and the Nature Pact Commission. After obtaining a Master II in Banking and Financial Law in Strasbourg, Vanessa was a lawyer at the Luxembourg Bar before joining the team of the Ombudsman.