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Innovative e-government capabilities advance the Norwegian government on the path to high performance
The government of Norway has been on the forefront of adopting technology since the rise of information technology and the Internet. As early as the late 1990s, three government agencies began exploring possibilities of enabling government forms to transition from paper-based to electronic processing. In May 2002, the Norwegian government launched an overarching eNorway 2005 plan, a vision for the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the public sector. The plan’s success spurred the subsequent eNorway 2009 plan, the continuation of Norway’s drive to achieve high performance in the public sector by incorporating innovative technology and thinking in the ways the country offers electronic services to businesses and citizens.
Each year, some 500,000 Norwegian businesses are required to complete and submit more than 80 mandatory government forms as part of their statutory obligation to report financial figures and other statistical information. Historically, financial reporting forms were paper forms that were filed manually. More than three-quarters of these financial and tax reporting forms are filed to one of three Norwegian government agencies—the Tax Directorate, the Brønnøysund Register Centre and Statistics Norway—representing the bulk of government-to-business transactions. In 2002, these three agencies cooperated to establish a common electronic reporting solution for businesses to file government forms as one of the most high-profile initiatives of the government’s eNorway 2005 plan.
To develop the solution, named Altinn, the agencies selected to team with Accenture. Accenture offered a demonstrated breadth of capabilities needed to develop the solution from concept to deployment. In addition, Accenture, together with Microsoft, offered a competitive technical infrastructure, and have worked on engagements around the world delivering critical solutions for the government sector.
In October 2002, the Tax Directorate, the Brønnøysund Register Centre and Statistics Norway, in collaboration with Accenture, launched the development of Altinn, a reporting solution that facilitated information flow from businesses to different government agencies. Altinn consisted primarily of two parts: a form development solution to develop and maintain forms and work processes; and a reporting solution to facilitate information flow from businesses and citizens to government agencies. Using the Microsoft .NET Framework and standardized Microsoft Windows Server System product, the solution was developed to handle communications with both the back-end systems of the government agencies and the third-party systems of businesses.
The first forms were made available through Altinn in December 2003. After a phased deployment, forms from the three agencies were online by the end of March 2004, and by April 2006, 16 agencies were using Altinn. Today, businesses and users can access 22 Norwegian government agencies through Altinn, providing more than 130 forms and services. Altinn makes it easier for businesses to fulfill their financial reporting obligations through a single Internet portal or by using their own internal information systems or software packages to transfer data directly to Altinn, eliminating the need for expensive fixed links or complex networks, which minimized setup costs.
As an important initiative of the eNorway 2005 strategy, Altinn represented a milestone for fulfilling the goal to have all state agencies receive electronic forms. With the release of the eNorway 2009 plan, Accenture was awarded the Altinn 2 project in a competitive bid to enhance the solution further to expand Altinn’s use. Current efforts focus on enhancing the features of the Altinn portal to make it the one and only access point for agencies and businesses in Norway to use for electronic reporting and dialogue between businesses and the government.
Altinn today is Norway’s main electronic dialogue system to support effective communication between the country’s businesses, individuals and government agencies. The portal is positioning the government of Norway on the path to high performance by greatly simplifying the relationship between government and businesses, contributing to Norway becoming a global leader in offering electronic services to the private and public sector.
Since its launch, Altinn has been successful in helping the government reach high volumes of electronic filing, simplifying business-to-government transactions, and delivering cost savings for business and government. The more people use Altinn, the more the Norway government saves money. The portal also cuts costs and reduces the reporting burden and complexity for businesses. By transacting electronically, private- and public-sector users also benefit from improved accuracy and quality of information, more efficient service, fewer mistakes and less error handling. And with companies now reporting through a single channel, data is consistent across government agencies.
The long-term goal is to make Altinn the gateway for all public services in Norway, where all relevant government, public and regional services will be accessible for the businesses and citizens of Norway. Altinn is an important element in Norway’s quest for high performance by applying technology to promote change in the public sector and a better society—an element making it possible for Norway to become a world-leading nation.
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