“Citizen-friendly administration” is just like “bureaucracy reduction” a popular buzzword for Sunday speeches. It is always demanded, but not automatically implemented. That is why the implementation of truly “citizen-friendly administration” will be one of the decisive focal points of the coming term of office. What does that mean?
Optimize administrative processes
The city administration is not an authority, and criticism of it is not an insult to its majesty – on the contrary: administrative processes can only be optimized if residents provide continuous feedback on where there is a need for improvement. The administration is called upon to “listen.” Not only during the regular citizens’ consultations of the Lord Mayor, which are to be continued. In future, these are to be carried out not only in Ebingen town hall, but also in all parts of the town. It goes without saying that the administrative leadership as a whole must be regularly present in all local districts in order to discuss local concerns from the sub-communities together with the respective local council.
Living a service culture
In addition, the possibility for residents to respond online must be further expanded: An online citizen portal must be developed from the administration’s existing “deficiency reporter” that also provides the opportunity to express other criticism and suggestions. This must also be implemented within the administration: The administration and each individual employee must live a service culture that meets the city’s citizens at eye level. These are not annoying supplicants, but ultimately, in the aggregate, the real bosses of the administration.
But information is not a one-way street: Administration and local politics are also called upon to develop the greatest possible transparency in order to involve residents and make decisions transparent. In particular, this includes making the public meetings of the municipal council and its committees accessible to interested parties as an online stream in the future.
It’s not just since Corona that it’s been clear that many workflows cannot be streamlined further without digitization. However, this is urgently needed within the city administration: On the one hand, to relieve the existing staff, and on the other hand, to avoid escalating personnel requirements in times of tight budgets and a shortage of skilled workers. In the coming years, it will therefore be essential to further digitize and simplify administrative work across all offices. The future does not belong to paper and stamps – citizen-friendly administration takes place online within the city hall and in contact with citizens. The security aspect must not be neglected in the process: For the implementation of the new digital concept, a separate staff unit should be established in the mayor’s department to support the short-term implementation of digitization across all departments and, in particular, to ensure rapid implementation and a high standard of security in contact with the local university and the relevant specialist companies.
Digital administration can do more than is currently already being implemented in Albstadt. The aim is therefore to make all administrative procedures that do not have to be carried out in person for compelling legal reasons unnecessary. This must not be postponed, but is the primary goal. The citizens’ office in Tailfingen is a role model for all processes in which citizens need direct contact with the administration: the sign of the times is not individual appointments at different offices, but competent contact persons who forward information within the administration. Drawing numbers and waiting in line”, as is often the case at Ebingen town hall, are now obsolete. Instead, a citizens’ office is to be set up there as well, following the pattern in Tailfingen. As far as this is financially and building-technically feasible, this can also be done in the future together with the media center to be relocated back to downtown Ebingen.
All districts equally in the focus of the city administration
“Living far above normal” – the current claim of the city of Albstadt for the supra-regional city marketing. “Living in Albstadt”, that means living in the most populous city of the Zollernalbkreis and the region, living in a city with 9 districts, each one lovable and with its own focus, associations and traditions. But living in Albstadt also means living in an industrial town, in a university town and in a town of different generations.
Albstadt has always been the sum of its individual districts. This must remain the case in the future. Therefore, a good future development of our city requires that all districts must also be equally in the focus of the city administration. Especially in economically difficult times with only limited funds available, the focus must nevertheless be on the concerns of the city as a whole, so that there must also be a balance between the concerns of the individual districts when setting priorities for projects within the city.
Transcript of the video above
Incidentally, one aspect of citizen-centric administration is, of course, the introduction of digitization. Not everyone needs to show up at City Hall directly for every task. We’ve been talking about it for years, but so far we’re not making any progress. This must be implemented. What can be done digitally must also be enabled digitally in the future. A big challenge. Just as it is important to closely examine the structures within the city’s administration, which have remained unchanged since the city was founded, to determine whether the departments are properly tailored for the future. Here, too, it is important to optimize costs and prevent frictional losses. Another task to be tackled in the short term after the change of office.