Reducing Administrative Costs

In 2006 Austria’s Federal Government started an ambitious programme to reduce administrative burdens for businesses in order to improve the business environment and help competitiveness and growth.

The results of the baseline measurement completed in June 2007 have shown that the Austrian economy faces administrative burdens amounting to 4.3 billion Euros. This equals 1.6 per cent of the GNP.

Austria achieved the target for 2012 by reducing 25% of administrative burden (more than € 1 billion) which means a significant improvement of the Austrian business location.

The most important measures are e-invoicing and the Business Service Portal (Unternehmensserviceportal - USP). The possibility to replace millions of ordinary paper bills by electronic invoices offers a high potential for optimising processes and reducing expenses for enterprises and the public administration. The Federal Government supports this trend and made e-invoices mandatory for all Federal department contracting partners (e.g. suppliers, service providers) trading goods and services since 1st January 2014. 

The Business Service Portal aims to serve as a single entry point to public authorities for businesses. By offering information and transaction services, it intends to help businesses to fulfill their in an easy and efficient way. Since 1st January 2010 the USP is available online via offering information for businesses. Since May 2012 the USP provides the most important e-Government services for businesses. Currently about 20 services are available with single-sign-on such as the virtual tax office (FinanzOnline), e-invoicing to public authorities, social security contributions (ELDA), electronic waste management (EDM); further services are continuously integrated.

Reduction of administrative burdens for citizens
In April 2009, the Council of Ministers decided on a comprehensive programme to reduce administrative burdens for citizens and improve the quality of governmental services. The aims were two-fold: 

  • Cutting time and costs spent on information obligations - reducing official channels by fostering the use of e-government solutions, enhancing intra-governmental cooperation, providing one-stop-shop solutions; and
  • Improve service quality - making questionnaires and forms more comprehensible and easier to access, providing information in a barrier-free way at a central point of interest, and developing interactive procedures.

After the first quantitative and qualitative research, the 100 most burdensome activities were identified and workshops were organized to discuss about potential mitigating solutions. Participants of the workshops were drawn from: legal experts from the ministries; civil servants from enforcement agencies; and stakeholders. 

Around 4,000 interviews were conducted by opinion-pollsters in order to estimate the burden and to identify starting points for reforms. It was calculated that these most burdensome information obligations for citizens cause 22 million requests, solicitations, petitions and declarations per year. This equals 32.3 million hours total burden for all Austrian citizens, consisting of: 4 million hours for obtaining information, 18.8 million hours for processing, 9.5 million hours for arriving at the local authority, and €113 million out-of-pocket-expenses (copies, fare, etc.).

About 140 measures have been planned and partly implemented by line ministries. Simplification measures already implemented contribute to a time reduction for citizens of 7 Mio. hours. Key measures are setting up an electronic register for the civil status of citizens, the simplification of free public transport for pupils and trainees and the introduction of the Mobile Phone Signature (“mobile citizen card”) in administrative procedures. 

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