Catalan councils are leading the digital transformation in the State

From the AOC we publish the second edition of thecomparative report on the implementation and use of digital administration and the transparency law in the town councils of Catalonia compared to those of the rest of the State, using the open data published by the General Administration of the State and the AOC. The conclusions of the comparative report highlight that Catalonia's councils are prominently leading digitization at state level in all areas: greater use of electronic administration services, higher number of interoperability inquiries and better compliance with the Transparency Law.

The validity of the Catalan model of digital administration is reaffirmed

These data reaffirm the Catalan model of digital administration led by the AOC, which promotes the use of shared digital services to solve the common needs of all administrations, reapplying efforts and generating significant savings of more than €500M a year thanks to economies of scale. The key to the Catalan model is the provision of services collaboratively with the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Provincial Councils, the regional councils and the main councils, promoting change management services: accompaniment, support and training, and the publication of guides and good practices to share knowledge, as is the case of the Digicanvis observatory.

The level of use of digital procedures in Catalonia doubles that of the rest of Spain

The level of use of digital administration services by citizens and companies in Catalonia is double compared to the rest of the State. In Catalonia, the level of use by citizens of digital procedures (with respect to the electronic and paper total) is 63%. At the state level, the degree of digitization is only 30%. This remarkable difference can be attributed to different factors, such as a greater offer of digital services, greater promotion of the services implemented and also simpler and easier to use procedures.

The implementation of the Transparency Law is 78% higher in Catalonia

The town councils of Catalonia also stand out in compliance with the transparency that is assessed annually by the Autonomous University of Barcelona with the Infoparticipa seal. In the year 2022, the town councils as a whole have achieved an average of 51 points out of 100, while the town councils of the rest of the State have obtained only 29 points on average. The work of Network of Open Governments of advice, support, training and publication of resources and good practices has been essential to achieve these results.

Catalan councils triple the use of interoperability services compared to those of the State

If we consider the interoperability services, both the implementation and the level of use in the councils of Catalonia far exceed those of the councils of the rest of Spain. Regarding the implementation, in Catalonia 38% of councils carry out interoperability consultations, while in the rest of Spain, this figure is only 12%. In relation to the level of use, the difference is also significant, although the numbers are very low in both cases. In Catalonia, the level of use compared to what we consider optimal use is 16%, and in the rest of Spain, 8%.

We remember that the consultations on the interoperability of data and documents must guarantee the right of citizens not to provide data held by the Administration.

Much work to be done on interoperability and transparency

Although the comparative indicators are very positive, it is necessary to analyze the absolute value with respect to the maximum objective of 100% in each of the dimensions analyzed, and here we have positive indicators and others where there is much room for improvement.

On a positive note, it should be noted that citizens, companies and associations deal digitally with councils in Catalonia: the level of use of digital administration services is 63%. This is a very good indicator that shows that we are at higher levels of digitization than digitally advanced private sectors such as banking. It should also be noted that the town councils relate to other administrations almost exclusively by electronic means, generating great time efficiencies and savings.

However, in the area of ​​compliance with the Transparency Law, the results are modest. According to Infoparticipa, compliance is only 51% on average. This data is substantially worse for small municipalities. Those with less than 1.000 inhabitants (which are more than half of the municipalities) have a compliance level of approximately 20%. The degree of transparency is more an organizational and change management issue than a technological one, and significant effort is needed to move forward.

After seven years since the approval of the Law, these data highlight the lack of human resources that these entities have to comply with all legal obligations and that a strategic rethinking is needed. Work is being done to increase the automation of the items on the Transparency portal, but it is a technologically complicated process that involves software adaptations and integrations with case management supplier companies and the local councils. Right now, it seems unrealistic to achieve effective compliance with the Law if there is not much more supra-municipal support or the requirements are lowered for entities with fewer resources.

The data on the use of interoperability services is also not positive. Only 38% of the town councils in Catalonia make use of the Via Oberta service due to the legal-organizational complexity which, again, is very cumbersome for small entities and which is conditioned by the legal model defined by the General Administration of the state This complexity is increased when most councils do not have electronic file managers effectively integrated with Via Oberta and, moreover, do not automate the entire verification process, which means additional administrative work. From the AOC we are promoting several actions to improve this data:

  • the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation has been asked to simplify the legal and authorization model, which is very burdensome for small entities.
  • it is planned to strengthen Via Oberta's accompanying services
  • regular meetings are held with case management solution providers and the councils to promote effective integrations.
  • good practices and authorization models are being promoted to facilitate the use of Via Oberta. For example, in the selective processes or social services that use the Hèstia application.

Methodology used and information fund

The study is based on the methodology of the Digital Maturity Index of local administrations and assesses the degree of digital transformation in three key areas: the digital rights of citizens, the activity of electronic administration services and the level of transparency. In the first two areas, the study uses the activity data of the digital services of the AOC and the data published by the AGE, while in the field of transparency it uses the data from the Infoparticipa label.

The sources of information we used are the following:

  • Authentications: VÀLid (AOC) and Cl@ve (AGE) information
  • Interoperability: information from Open Way (AOC) and Data Intermediation Platform (AGE)
  • Transparency: Infoparticipa seal

The calculation methodology was as follows:

  • Coverage calculation methodology
    • The coverage of digital administration services is the percentage of councils that have performed at least one authentication with VÀLid (in Catalonia) or Cl@ve (in the rest of the state)
    • The coverage of interoperability services is the percentage of councils that have carried out at least one consultation with Via Oberta (in Catalonia) or PID (in the rest of the state)
    • The coverage of inter-administrative processing services is the percentage of councils that have made at least one transmission through EACAT (in Catalonia) or SIR (in the rest of the state)
  • Usage calculation methodology
    • The degree of use of electronic administration services by citizens is the ratio of authentications per inhabitant with respect to the value considered optimal (authentications per inhabitant of the town hall located in the 90th percentile)
    • The degree of use of interoperability services by the city council is the ratio of consultations per inhabitant with respect to the value considered optimal (consultations per inhabitant of the city council located in the 90th percentile)
  • Methodology for compliance with the Transparency Law
    • The degree of compliance with the transparency law is calculated using the score obtained in the Infoparticipa seal, which ranges from 0 to 100.

From the AOC we would like to be able to extend these studies to other areas of digital administration, but the open data available at the AGE is limited.

Note: We thank the team of the Public Communication Laboratory of the Autonomous University of Barcelona for access to the open data of the Infoparticipa study at state level.