Public administration has many opportunities to protect the environment and reduce its negative impact on it. There is a lot of potential in minimising energy, paper and water consumption, as well as waste production in public institutions. Because of the administration's role model function, it is necessary to take responsibility, and in consequence, to develop and establish environmental awareness. Environmental protection is a priority topic in recent years, which also needs to be addressed by the public administration.
Public sector organisations are mainly knowledge-intensive organisations, and to exploit their knowledge, effective knowledge sharing among the different departments is required. There can be great advantages if information is not only used in the own administration but is shared between hierarchies, different policy areas and levels of government. Including findings from other disciplines in respective monitoring systems (e.g. education, social, youth, and work) can create synergy and learning effects, which in turn leads to a share of benefits.
Public administration is a strictly standardised and structured environment, which makes it calculable and predictable to a certain extent. This includes, for example, a sufficient number of qualified employees. Also for the public administration employees in our focus group, this strict organisational framework seems to be important in order to complete their work and task. On the other hand, it would be desirable that this frame allows certain freedoms within it. This (limited) flexibility can be helpful in responding to unexpected developments.
A relevant but also critical factor in public management is the staff. It is important to recruit junior staff and specialists, which can manage the given challenges and have the necessary skills and technical knowledge to promote the digital transformation. Particularly in view of the demographic developments, it seems essential to recruit new staff and retain them in the long term.
In addition to recruiting new employees, personnel development should not be neglected. Existing personnel should be trained to help them handle the challenge of new technologies and consequently changes in organisational environment. Personnel development measures have to be established to support employees’ acceptance and the acquisition of competences connected to ICT, preparing them for possible challenges.
The public sector is facing demographic changes and has to compete with the private sector for talents. Incentives like, for example, an adequate payment or the possibility of mobile working, seem important to retain young and qualified employees in the long term and to increase the job satisfaction of all employees. The interviewed public administration employees criticised a lack of appreciation of their work.
The head of the administration modernisation division on a regional level confirmed that one of the most important needs of public administration is cooperative working. Hierarchy is an important part in public administration but it also represents a limitation for its work. The more complex social problems become, the more complex are the governmental answers to them. Public administrations should be more open and flexible in the cooperation between different stakeholders, partners and hierarchy levels.
Public sector has to deliver services to citizens despite resource constraints and budgetary pressures. Because of this personnel and financial limitations, available resources must be used as cost saving and valuable as possible.
Standards require a certain legal basis and binding specifications. At the same time, they must be also accepted by the target group. If standards are enforced, they offer the advantage of planning and investment protection. This provides a good basis for further digitisation of processes.
Probably one of the biggest needs for administration is to keep up with the technical innovation. To cope with the production of huge volumes of data is a technical problem as well as a big challenge for the staff. On the one hand, there should be established technical infrastructure for new policies and the increasing number of data, on the other hand, the staff needs to be trained and able to manage data and produce “good” data.