Regulating E-government in Denmark

Hanne Marie Motzfeldt, Ayo Næsborg-Andersen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Denmark is far ahead in developing e-government. However, on several occasions the use by public authorities of information and communication technology (ICT) has caused unlawful administration due to deficient and faulty programming. In the 1990s and 2000s, the implementation of e-government mainly influenced procedural matters, and thus had little influence on the material decisions, but - from a legal point of view - the consequences of the rash transition of the former paper-based Danish public administration have changed in recent years. By 2014, automated decisionmaking affected the very content of a large number of decisions directed at citizens, causing downright unlawful administration and violating the very core of the rule of law. Aware of the potential risks, the influential Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman has been investigating the public authorities' use of ICT since the beginning of the 1990s. Due to the many instances of unlawful administration caused by inadequate design of ICT, it has been necessary for the institution to develop new principles of administrative law regulating the use of ICT in the public sector. The aim of this paper is to examine these new principles, through an examination of selected opinions of the Ombudsman. Ultimately, two are presented: Administrative law by design and good administration impact assessment. The principle of administrative law by design requires public authorities to apply a value-based approach to the development and use of ICT in the public sector. Relevant legislation and unwritten principles of public administrative law should be embedded into the design of ICT used by public authorities. The requirement for a good administration impact assessment was developed as late as 2014. A good administration impact assessment is a procedure-mapping of relevant legislation and principles of administrative law as part of the development of ICT, if the technology in question is to be used by public authorities. These new principles of administrative law are developed and based on one very simple premise: Public authorities are responsible for developing e-government in compliance with relevant regulation and unwritten principles of administrative law.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 17th European Conference on Digital Government, ECDG 2017
EditorsJose Carlos Dias Rouco, Joao Vieira Borges
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
Publication date2017
ISBN (Electronic)9781911218388
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event17th European Conference on Digital Government - Military Academy, Lisbon, Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 12. Jun 201713. Jun 2017


Conference17th European Conference on Digital Government
LocationMilitary Academy, Lisbon, Portugal


  • retsinformatik
  • Digitalisation
  • Administrative law by design
  • Rule of law
  • Administrative law
  • The Danish Ombudsman
  • E-government


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