Pilot study on employees’ and staff councils’ participation in IT implementation projects in the German public sector

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Sara Hofmann (ZeMKI-Lab "Information Management and Media Technology")

Funding institution: German Civil Servants Federation (dbb), German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB)

In cooperation with the German Federation of Civil Servants (dbb) and the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB), it was investigated how employees and staff councils are involved in the introduction of IT projects in public administration. A survey of staff councils in federal authorities was carried out on the subject of the e-files study with the aim of obtaining information on the real design of the introduction processes on a valid basis and identifying the need for optimisation. The survey focused on participation instruments for the introduction of the e-file and the possible effects of the introduction on the work of employees.

In the public sector, the involvement of employees and personnel councils in the introduction of new IT is mandatory. Possible participation instruments range from institutionalised contact points that answer questions on the introduction of new IT to active participation in the design of new systems. Not
However, it is rarely criticised that the service does not sufficiently involve employees and their representatives too late in the course of the project. However, so far there are no reliable results that paint a comprehensive picture of the participation culture in German authorities. On behalf of the Deutscher Beamtenbund (dbb) and the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB), ZeMKI member Prof. Dr. Sara Hofmann therefore conducted a pilot study together with colleagues in which the participation instruments used in IT implementation projects and their effectiveness were recorded. Using the example of the currently largest IT implementation project in the public sector, the introduction of the electronic file, an online survey was conducted among staff councils in German federal authorities. Participants were asked how employees and staff councils were involved in the different phases of the introduction of the electronic file, from project initiation to regular operation, and how appropriate these participation instruments were. It is clear from the results that the respondents currently see a deficit in participation, especially in the early phases of IT implementation. While there are sufficient opportunities for participation in the final use of IT, the so-called regular operation - e.g. through participation in evaluations and surveys - employees and staff councils are rarely involved, for example when setting the performance requirements for the new systems. Accordingly, according to the survey results, there is a desire to inform the staff council and employees earlier about planned IT implementation projects, to involve them more actively in the implementation process and to create more transparency.