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Deficiencies in digital support for businesses

By digitalising contacts with government agencies, Sweden could make it considerably easier to start a new business. The deficiencies are partly the result of outdated technical solutions, fragmented governance and split responsibility.

Man and woman with aprons by a laptop in cafe environment.

Photo: Maskot

In order to boost Swedish competitiveness and create the right conditions for more jobs in growing companies, the Government wishes to make it easier to start and to run a business. Digitalisation has been identified as a crucial factor and the Government’s goal is for Sweden to be best in the world at using the opportunities offered by digitalisation.

The Swedish National Audit Office (Swedish NAO) has audited the digital support available to entrepreneurs and how well this works. The restaurant sector has been selected as an example, since it is a heavily regulated sector and the entrepreneur must have extensive contacts with government agencies.

The audit showed that the responsible agencies have developed digital support and that it is above all the website called verksamt.se that facilitates the process for entrepreneurs. However, the digital solution on which the website is based has deficiencies that limit its efficiency and benefits – and it is therefore not as easy to start a new company as it could be if there was well-functioning digital support.

“The digital services for entrepreneurs are still not sufficiently functional and easy to use. For this reason, many people continue to reject digital contact with government agencies as their first choice,” says Johanna Köhlmark, project leader for the audit.

Other deficiencies are that the agencies process cases for new businesses in outdated IT systems. This makes manual processing necessary and is an obstacle to efficient digital processes.

There are also deficiencies when agencies collaborate to develop services for citizens and entrepreneurs, for example, the legislation makes it difficult for agencies to share information. There are also financing issues and priority conflicts that make the work less efficient than it could be.

“The Government has focused more on temporary government assignments than on taking a comprehensive approach to digitalisation of public administration. In this respect, the Government should have been able to create better conditions for the government agencies to achieve the Swedish goals,” says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.

Recommendations

  • The Swedish National Audit Office recommends that the Government continues its work of facilitating digital interoperability between the responsible agencies.
  • It is recommended that the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth and the Swedish Companies Registration Office develop verksamt.se in order to guarantee the benefit for entrepreneurs and the participating agencies.
  • Due to the Serverat programme’s poor results, it is recommended that the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth reviews the design of Serverat.
  • The Swedish Companies Registration Office and the Swedish Tax Agency are recommended to work to increase the proportion of cases submitted digitally.

The audit is part of a Nordic parallel audit in collaboration with Finland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway. The other countries’ reports are expected to be published during spring and autumn 2019. It is planned to publish a joint comparative report in late 2019.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 12 June 2019

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