What is digital-ready legislation?

Digital-ready legislation ensures an easier workload for public employees and a more effective, digital service for citizens and corporations. Legislation must be plain and clear in order to lay the foundation for a truly systematic de-bureaucratization of the Danish public sector.

Legislation is difficult to understand — also for those who have to administer it

Today’s legislation is so complex that it may be difficult for citizens and businesses to understand what rules apply. Legislation with many exceptions, unclear concepts or multiple case processing requirements is also difficult to administer, and can result in long delays and prevent efficient management using digital opportunities. In today’s digital society, it is important that effective administration of the new rules is taken into account in the legislative work.

This means, for example, that in the future the legislation should strive towards using terms and concepts that have a clear definition across all legislative domains, and that rules should be designed for a whole or partial automation of the case processing involved.

Focus on implementation from start to finish

If digital legislation is to become effective in practice, there is a need for an increased focus on how the law should be administered in everyday life — what is essentially the implementation of the legislation.

Throughout the decision making process from the proposal for political negotiations and on to the pre-legislative work, there is a need for increased awareness of whether the legislation can be managed digitally and on whether the implementation impacts have been clarified sufficiently.

This requires politicians to consider, whether the purpose of writing certain exceptions and derogations into legislation is judicious given the implementation impacts that follow. It also requires the civil service to draw the attention of politicians to the fact that exceptions and ambiguities may be politically desirable now, but may constitute an obstacle to the operation of the law as intended later, for example, because of a more expensive and more risky implementation.

New steps in the legislative process

The legislation is digital-ready when it can be administered in whole or in part digitally and supports the use of new technologies. Assessing the availability of legislation is an integral part of the pre-legislative work. This is done through two new steps in the legislative process to ensure that legislators and civil servants think digitalisation into the legislative work. 

Implementation impacts for public authorities

Digital-ready legislation provides an increased focus on implementation impacts for public authorities. This is done by making it compulsory to assess the implementation impacts of new legislative initiatives at an early stage in the policy-making process.

This applies to both:

  • Cases submitted to the central government committees
  • Greater political negotiations and reforms
  • Legislative proposals (in the explanatory notes)

In this way, issues regarding implementation will be well illustrated throughout the chain of legislative decision making — from the first political proposal to the final bill adopted in the Danish Parliament.

Mandatory assessment of whether legislation is digital-ready

It is mandatory to asses whether the legislation is digital-ready. The assessment is based on seven principles for digital-ready legislation. It is only when specific considerations arise, such as the best interests of the child, that the principles should be derogated from.