The Deloitte Swiss Digital Government Study 2021 Drivers and Barriers to E-Government Services
This year’s Deloitte survey of digital services in Switzerland finds that demand for them has grown substantially since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Reduced face-to-face interactions and advances in digital technology have influenced customers’ expectations and their purchasing behaviour. This applies not only to online purchases of consumer goods but also to eGovernment services. Existing eGovernment services in Switzerland have been used increasingly by citizens since last year’s study and there is a great need for new digital services. As they transition to digital services, Swiss public authorities and administrations are facing not only different behaviour and new preferences among the public but also technological hurdles and transformation challenges.
Key drivers shaping the future of eGovernment services in Switzerland In our Deloitte Digital Government Survey 2021 we surveyed over 1,000 citizens in Switzerland – of which 235 were public service employees – and identified and analysed the key drivers and hurdles that will shape the future of eGovernment services in Switzerland.

These findings result in four clear calls for action which we will discuss over the coming months:

Part 1:Flexibility and time saving expected from digital services Part 2:Concerns about data privacy and cyber security Part 3:Preference for uniform and national solutions Part 4:Preference for new working methods by public sector employees
Part 1: Flexibility and time saving expected from digital services
Citizens in Switzerland have clear needs and expectations when it comes to eGovernment services. Overall, their experience with the existing digital services offered by public authorities and administrations is better than last year and generally satisfactory. According to the latest Deloitte Digital Government Survey 2021, however, more flexibility with regard to time and location as well as greater time savings when using new digital services can drive further adoption. Improved customer orientation, better communication and more mobile services are also needed. This will increase overall satisfaction with digital services and encourage even more people to use them. The biggest users are aged between 30 and 49 years and over 60 years. Citizens aged less than 30 years are slightly less willing to use eGovernment services. Other important user aspects are self-service (68%) and convenience of digital service (68%).
High willingness to use existing digital services: The majority of citizens are ready for eGovernment services and satisfied with the digital services they have already used. Three-fifths of respondents (61%) indicate that they are willing to use the digital services of public authorities and administrations. The biggest users are those between 30 and 49 years old and those aged over 60. Respondents aged under 30 are slightly less willing to use eGovernment services - probably because the existing digital services do not appeal to their user habits. As in last year’s survey, the three best-known digital services in 2021 are in the areas of taxation, personal register and registration/de-registration of place of residence. Nevertheless, many key digital services remain unknown, especially those offered only in certain Cantons, such as electronic identification (e-ID) or online vehicle number plate redemption services, which every third respondent did not know about before taking this survey. More communication and better positioning of services is required as well as dedicated customer orientation to better addresses citizens’ needs and expectations. How willing are you to use the digital services of the public authorities and administrations in Switzerland? Flexibility and efficiency drive satisfaction and the willingness to use digital services: A large majority of respondents agree that time flexibility (75%), time saving (72%) and location flexibility (72%) are the three most important user aspects when using digital services. Other important user aspects are self-service (not limited by office hours) and the greater convenience of digital services (both 68%). It will be key for any future digital services to take these aspects of usage of eGovernment services into account. The majority of citizens want to use digital services whenever and wherever they want. This clearly points to more mobile services, such as, for example, the recently launched Swiss Travel Admin App of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Citizens also want the digital service to be much faster and more efficient than when they go to the counter at the government office. But there are some differences in priorities between age groups. For respondents under the age of 40 years, for example, the most important user aspect is time saving. Respondents over the age of 40 favour time and location flexibility. Which user aspects of digital services of the public authorities/administration are important for you? Clear preferences when it comes to new eGovernment services: The majority of citizens surveyed would like to see new services that go beyond the already well-known and well-used eGovernment services. For example, every second respondent “would always like” to order their passports or ID cards online (51%) and obtain motorway usage vignettes electronically (49%). In addition, more than two-fifths “would always like” to pay parking fines with a contactless payment method and vote online using e-voting – and more than one third “would sometimes like” to use both services digitally. There is great potential for new eGovernment services of this kind. However, some of the citizens surveyed would not use all of these new services digitally because of their concerns about data privacy protection and cybersecurity. These concerns need to be addressed to increase adoption. We will dive deeper into this topic in a separate article which will be released soon. What is your view on following new digital services offered by public authorities/the public administration?
Part 2: Concerns about data privacy and cyber security
Most Swiss citizens (61 %) are willing to use e-government services as they hope to increase flexibility and ease of bureaucratic interactions. Yet, many Swiss citizens continue to have reservations, with 26 per cent being neutral towards the use of e-government services, 9 per cent "rather not willing" and 4 per cent "not at all willing" to use these services. This year's Deloitte survey of digital services in Switzerland finds that the citizens who are not in favor of new digital services from the government have, in many cases, concerns about data protection and cyber security. There are, of course, legitimate concerns around the safety of interacting and exchanging sensitive information in a digital way. For example - are digital services from the government trustworthy and resilient enough against data theft? Part of the Swiss population seems to doubt this. Our survey findings revealed that the lack of data security and concerns about cyber security are significant obstacles that might lead to a hesitant use of e-government services by Swiss citizens. We tried to understand if this is only a question of mindset, or if there are deeper reasons behind the hesitancy. 28% of respondents who would not use this service (or only sometimes) were concerned about data protection and 34% expressed concerns due to a lack of data security Further efforts to enhance technical systems and tools as well as training staff and strengthening agile public institutions is key Our expert comments the concerns about data protection and cyber security that one third of Swiss citizens are showing Read more
For the second time in ten months, serious security vulnerabilities were detected in a government database. In March 2021, the electronic vaccination booklet was affected, followed by the organ donor registers of the Swisstransplant foundation. By exploiting a security vulnerability in the Swisstransplant website, an attacker was able to view sensitive files of the application server such as log files with personal data of people willing to register. Barely one week after the discovery of such a serious security vulnerability, the national organ donor register was already back online. By deciding to reopen the donations register without making any changes, Swisstransplant overrode the concerns of the Federal Data Protection Commissioner (Edöb). Adrian Lobsiger, Head of Office for the Federal Data Protection Commissioner, confirmed that he pointed out to Swisstransplant, before the register was relaunched, that the information recorded in the register is "considered to be particularly sensitive personal data". (Source) The reasons for the reluctance to use e-government services vary from person to person - ranging from personal negative experiences to reports of real attacks on e-government services or one's own technology mindset. Together with general mistrust and a high individual need for security, these are all reasons why people are reluctant to use e-government services. The concern is, on some levels, understandable. Fraudulent e-mails purporting to come from the customs administration or Swiss Post or cyberattacks on hospitals and media houses show that there is no such thing as one hundred percent security on the internet, although Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter assures in an interview with the NZZ: "The state has a supporting and important role. It is and remains the master of the data. It regulates. It verifies. It recognizes. And it supervises." (Source) Swiss citizens have reservations about digital services for taxes and signatures These incidents clearly impact public opinion on service safety. The more sensitive the data that must be transmitted, the stronger the reservations. This is especially true for financial and medical data. Similar to last year's study, there are data protection concerns especially around digital services for taxes, digital signature, electronic information exchange, passport/ID and e-voting. Cyber security concerns exist for practically all services. Regarding contactless payment options for parking fines - 28% of respondents who would not use this service (or only sometimes) were concerned about data protection and 34% expressed concerns due to a lack of data security. For the electronic purchase of the motorway vignette, the ratio was also 28% to 34%. Given the possibility to file a report digitally with the police - 36% of respondents who would not really use this service have reservations regarding data protection and 35% distrust this offer due to the lack of data security. About two thirds of respondents who disapprove of an online service for registering as unemployed expressed concerns about data protection (33%) and data security (34%). These worries are even bigger amongst respondents who disapprove of e-voting (38% for data protection and 45% for data security reasons) and online ordering of passport and ID documents (38% data protection, 48% data security). Key elements to address citizens' fears and concerns about privacy and security The reasons for hesitancy regarding use of digital services are varied and complex. Challenges exist on the inside of public services (e.g. technical equipment) and within society and their doubts about the security of the state’s data systems. Secure systems are essential, as well as Swiss citizens feeling assured that the security of data is safeguarded – through secure hardware and software. Further efforts to enhance technical systems and tools as well as training staff and strengthening agile public institutions is key. The data shows: E-government services are very important to Swiss citizens. They trust government institutions far more than they trust private providers, to keep their data confidential. This trust creates the foundation for reputable institutions to address citizens' fears and concerns about privacy and security by demonstrating that they offer robust and secure solutions. Why are you not in favour of these digital services provided by authorities/public administration?
Interview with Florian Widmer, Partner, Cyber Risk Services Our expert comments the concerns about data protection and cyber security that one third of Swiss citizens are showing According to our latest Digital Government Survey, around one third of Swiss citizens are not in favour of new digital government services due to their concerns about data protection and cyber security. How do you interpret these reservations? Concerns about data protection and cyber security are typically an indication of more than whether eGovernment services are perceived as secure. It rather stems from a lack of trust that some citizens have in the government and its services overall, and not just related to cyber security and data protection. Could you elaborate on what you mean by a lack of trust? Many citizens have also experienced that the exchange of data and information with the government can often be tedious. Here, it would help to emphasise the advantages to the user which include saving time, 24-hour accessibility and location independence all whilst maintaining high levels of security and complying with privacy regulations. These benefits can be communicated with government campaigns, but more importantly, eGovernment services need to be re-designed to become more appealing to citizens. How can the government overcome these concerns, change opinions, and encourage greater use? The government must earn a solid level of trust. Based on this, I would recommend the following: Demonstrate that security and privacy are priorities by sharing information about underlying security measures and obtaining independent assurance regarding the effectiveness of these measures. Establish transparency and trust by openly communicating about why the data is needed and what it will be used for. This should be made explicitly clear for both the benefit of the individual and in the overall interest of fellow citizens. Give the user control over the data: Government measures should respect informational autonomy and opting digital solutions should be voluntary.
Part 3: The Swiss public and public-sector employees prefer uniform, national solutions for digital services from the state
The Swiss public has clear requirements not only for the design of e-government services but also for how they should be provided. They clearly see the state and not the private sector as responsible for providing e-government services. In addition, they prefer a uniform offer of digital services at a national level to different solutions provided by cantons. In principle, public-service employees share this point of view. With services for taxes, vehicles and place of residence, they also believe cantons and municipalities should be responsible for promoting digitalisation. A resounding majority of those surveyed (83-89%) preferred the provision of new digital services by the state and not by private actors. 68-77% of Swiss citizens and 69-75% of public service employees have a clear preference for uniform solutions for digital services across Switzerland, rather than different cantonal solutions.
In March last year the Swiss public made clear what they thought about the provision of digital state services by private companies: precious little. Although citizens for the most part welcome greater use and offering of e-government services, a clear majority expressed a resounding “no” on 7 March 2021 to the introduction of private electronic identity cards (E-IDs). The main reason was that the Swiss government had planned to outsource the issuing of ID cards to the private sector. This aroused mistrust among the Swiss public. The findings of the Deloitte “Digital Government Survey 2021” confirmed the public's reservations about involving both the public and private sector. A resounding majority of those surveyed (83-89%) preferred the provision of new digital services by the state and not the private sector. The degree to which private sector involvement was rejected varies slightly depending on the service: 89% want electronic submission of tax returns to be only to a state body. 85% did not want to entrust registration and deregistration of their place of residence to private hands. 87% wanted to leave the register of the national population in state hands. Providers of digital solutions Public sector employees also had a clear view of who they believe should push forward digitalisation of services. Only 1% of those surveyed regard private companies as the driving force for digital services regarding taxes and place of residence, and 2% in the case of the population register. At 5%, the figure for electronic identity services and services regarding vehicles is only slightly higher. Here too the preference for obtaining digital services from the state is strong. Drivers of digital solutions Uniform products are preferred across Switzerland Creating new state digital services in a uniform manner across Switzerland, as opposed to having a variety of different services from cantons, was also important for those surveyed. A strong majority (68-77%) advocates this. Citizens showed slightly different preferences from service to service: uniform digital solutions across Switzerland for services concerning vehicles, such as paying for vehicle registration online, were important for 70% of those surveyed. 77% would like electronic identity services such as E-ID across Switzerland, and 76% for the population register. Citizens also include registration and deregistration at their place of residence (68%) and the electronic submission of tax returns (73%) in e-government services that should be uniform across Switzerland. Citizens’ perspective: uniform solutions versus digital cantonal solutions Public service employees also view public services in this way, with a clear majority (69-75%) preferring a uniform product from the Federal government as opposed to different solutions from canton to canton. Acceptance of cantonal solutions is at its highest (31% and 27%) in connection with services relating to place of residence and vehicles. Having said which, a clear majority still prefers the idea of uniform solutions across Switzerland. Three quarters of those surveyed also declared themselves in favour of a uniform product at national level for taxes, the population register and electronic identity services. Peppino Giaritta, the representative of the Federal Government and cantonal Digital Public Services Switzerland (DVS), has a neutral stance on Federalism. Asked if Federalism acts as a brake or a catalyst for the digitalisation of administration, he says: “Federalism belongs to Switzerland like trees in a forest. Federalism contributes to the diversity of our country. It also means competition. It enables cantons and municipalities to develop innovative products and services. For example, the electronic change of address notification “eUmzugCH“ was initiated by the canton of Zurich and then gradually adopted by other cantons and introduced nationally.” (Source) Public service employees’ perspective : uniform solutions versus digital cantonal solutions Now to the Federal Government Successful introduction of state digital services is always dependent on popular acceptance. This depends in turn on how well services are tailored to the needs of end users and how clearly the benefits and the security of the state services are communicated. In order to identify potential obstacles to using e-government services as soon as possible and find solutions, citizens should be involved in the development process from the start. In addition, more emphasis should be placed in information campaigns to citizens on the convenience of e-government services. The key message of the campaign should be to communicate the advantages, make benefits for citizens even clearer, guarantee security of uniform digital solutions across Switzerland. The clear vote of confidence from both the Swiss population and public service employees offers a good base for the future introduction of e-government services.
Part 4: Preference for new working methods by public sector employees
Public service employees are seeking new ways of working and greater digital empowerment as the need for public administrations to provide more digital services is increasing. According to the latest Deloitte Digital Government Survey 2021, the majority of public service employees are willing to change the way they work to achieve this. Agile working and the use of new systems and tools will be an important enabler of increased digitalisation within public administrations. Challenges are bureaucracy slowing down responses, digital working in general and overload of new inquiries. Only one-fourth of public service employees is not willing to change the way they work. Other important new working methods are advanced training (81%) and working in new teams across departments (73%).
Demand for more digital services challenges current work methods More than half of the public service employees surveyed (59%) were of the view that the corona crisis increased the pressure on public administrations to provide digital services. During successive lockdowns and with increased working from home, general online shopping behaviour of the population changed and expanded - which also included lasting effects for public service offerings. Public administrations have not only been largely unprepared for a higher demand for more digital services by citizens, but they have also been battling with inadequate processes and technology systems. For example - during the corona crisis, the cantons of Aargau and Zurich found that their manual process for short time work applications was overwhelmed by the rapid increase in the number of applications. They decided to automate their processes using software robotics and digital tools to accelerate settlement and payment - resulting in reduced administrative effort and quicker payouts for applicants. (Source) Unsurprisingly, over a third of respondents indicated that the biggest challenges remain rigid and complicated processes which slow down responses (38%), (issues with) digital working in general (37%) and overload due to increased number of inquiries (36%). Other challenges mentioned by public service employees included the increased coordination effort due to decentralized structures, lack of IT skills, outdated IT, and complex systems for data collection. What challenges have you experienced during the Corona crisis? When developing future digital offerings, these concerns need to be addressed by the public administration for the benefit of both citizens and public service employees. For example - there is still no "Once Only" principle so citizens have to communicate their data to the state repeatedly and public service employees cannot access easily data across departments. More simplified and unified digital processes - in accordance with current data protection laws - are required for future digital offerings to be successful. Public service employees are willing to change their working methods to drive digitalisation A large majority (65%) of surveyed public service employees - slightly less than in 2020 (73%) - are willing to change the way they work so that the range of external digital services offered by public administrations can be increased and provided more efficiently. However, 24% of respondents are not willing to change the way they work. While there were no real differences by age group, education levels played a role in the unwillingness to change ways of working. A higher number of respondents with education levels below matura - versus those with a matura or tertiary education level - were not willing to change. This finding represents a significant opportunity for public administrations to digitally equip and empower their employees. Driving digitalisation and creating new digital services is not only about technology but also about people and their development and requires a mindset shift in public administration. Different attitudes and behaviours of public service employees are required to fully harness technology for new digital services and better interactions with citizens. Some of the key characteristics underlying such a digital mindset are the ability to deal with change, strong citizen focus, a high degree of collaboration as well as co-creation capabilities, and embracing an agile way of working. (Source) Would you be willing to change the way you work so that the range of external digital services can be increased? Agile working and new systems and tools lead the way for new working methods Respondents viewed learning agile and new ways of working (86%) and learning new systems (86%) and new tools (85%) (for example - workflow systems, software robots, digital processing, web forms, e-payments etc.) as the most important methods to increase digitalisation within the public administration. A large majority (81%) of public service employees also identified advanced training as important to change the current way of working. Working in new teams across departments and reducing face-to-face contact with citizens were identified by 73% and 66% of respondents respectively, as other important changes that needed to happen to support digitalisation. Some of the elements mentioned above have already been included by the Federal Council as part of the current digitalisation priorities for the year 2022. (Source) They emphasize digitalisation and the benefits it holds for the population, companies and organisations. Citizens and other users should be given fast, simple and user-friendly access to government services. In addition, good data management, new electronic interfaces and more collaborative working across different operational units and departments have been identified as important foundations for a successful digital transformation. However, it will be key that all public service employees are properly trained and digitally empowered for this transformation to be effective. To what extent are you ready to change the way you work to increase digital services?
Find out more about the methodology we used for the Deloitte Digital Government Survey 2021
A Switzerland-wide survey To analyse and understand the behaviour and preferences of Swiss citizens in relation to eGovernment services, Deloitte conducted a survey for the second time in September 2021 of over 1,000 participants between the ages of 18 and 81 from both urban and rural areas and in the German, French and Italian speaking parts of the country. 235 of the participants were public service employees. This made it possible to sample views within the public authorities and administrations on their technological hurdles and transformation challenges, as well as ascertaining other citizens’ expectations of eGovernment services. Participants age
Place of residence
Place of work
Trust in digital services, and the willingness to use or provide them The questions addressed to the general public focused on the overall confidence and trust of citizens in the current and future ability of public authorities and administrations to offer digital services. The questions covered citizens’ awareness or and need and motivation to use digital services as well as how these services should be delivered and what the hurdles to broader adoption are. The questions for public service employees focused on their willingness to offer digital services as well as challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the need for increased centralisation and Switzerland-wide standardisation of eGovernment services.
Contacts and authors

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