From left to right: Martin Fechtelhoff (secunet), Max Lay (Bavarian State Ministry for Digital Affairs, StMD), Roland Krebs, Susanne Seibert, Paul König (all: BayLfSt), Janos Standt (mgm), Jens Viere (StMD)

A second place – yet great joy at the Bavarian State Office for Taxes (BayLfSt): The “modular corporate account based on ELSTER” of the BayLfSt won silver in the category “Best project for the implementation of the online access act” at the eGovernment Competition 2020.

At the award ceremony in Berlin, the BayLfSt only had to admit defeat to the “Universalprozess E-Government-Plattform” of the Ministry of the Interior, Digitisation and Migration of Baden-Württemberg. And the ELSTER corporate account also impressed in the online voting, in which Internet users were able to vote for their favourites from the beginning of June to mid-August after all the project presentations had been submitted: The project also made it to the very good 2nd place.

The management consultancy BearingPoint and the IT company Cisco have been organising the eGovernment Competition for 19 years. More than 80 teams involved in digitalisation and the modernisation of public administration submitted their projects this year. The presentations of the 18 selected finalist projects in six categories took place for the first time via video conference at the beginning of June. The eight-member jury with representatives from administration, science and media then decided on the placements.

The company account based on ELSTER

The Online Access Act (Act to Improve Online Access to Administrative Services) usually refers to digital citizen services, parking cards, child benefit applications and identity card matters – which must be implemented digitally and on the Internet by the end of 2022. Far too often, the millions of small and large companies and organisations, which have many times more contacts with public authorities per year than private individuals, are forgotten. With the submitted “Company Account based on ELSTER”, the BayLfSt is implementing a solution that will provide the infrastructure for a uniform company account in Germany over the next two years. This is the assignment of the IT Planning Council from mid-February 2020. Background: BayLfSt is the developer and operator of the ELSTER platform. mgm supports the realisation of the ELSTER portal and thus also the implementation of the corporate account.

The foundation of the modular corporate account is a further, separately operated instance of the ElsterOnline portal, which has proven its worth for 15 years under the name “My Corporate Portal” (in German: “Mein Unternehmensportal”). This is a web application for companies and organisations on which they can find all individually relevant administrative services in a centralised manner – a kind of meta-directory with a search function.

Dorothee Bär, Minister of State for Digitalisation in the Federal Chancellery (right) and Jon Abele, Partner and Head of Public Services at BearingPoint (left), presented the certificate to Susanne Seibert from BayLfSt.


Prerequisite for eGov services: secure authentication

However, in order for online variants of government services to be possible at all, a recognised secure and trustworthy authentication procedure is necessary. For this purpose, the BayLfSt has developed the central identification service NEZO with the support of mgm and the company secunet. The name says it all and follows the motto “Making things simple”: companies can use their existing ELSTER certificate for registration. Around 50 percent of companies and organisations in Germany already have such a certificate – which can be applied for at any time using the tax number.

In future, NEZO can be used freely by administrative units (federal, state and local authorities) via a SAML 2.0 interface (Security Assertion Markup Language). The access is modular: Participating units can either continue to operate their existing corporate account infrastructures using ELSTER or connect directly to the ELSTER corporate portal. In the second case, the extended NEZOP(ortal) service will be used, with which identity data is passed on once-only (SAML 2.0 IDP initiated) for various specialist procedures in the portal.

In addition to NEZO and NEZOP, the corporate account offers a legally compliant letterbox function for notifications. For this purpose, the BayLfSt provides the interface “ELSTER Transfer”, which local authorities and other specialised procedures can use to make documents or administrative files available directly in company letterboxes.

Tried and tested and innovative for years

The BayLfSt had submitted the corporate account developed in Bavaria to the 19th eGovernment competition because the project fulfils many basic ideas of the OZG implementation:

  • Reduction of entry barriers for other services/procedures through the modular approach.
  • Medium-term cost savings with full use of the ELSTER Enterprise Account instead of local or regional organisation accounts.
  • 50 percent distribution of the ELSTER certificate among companies and the learned handling is an optimal basis for a broad use.
  • No additional hardware such as card/ID card readers is required.
  • The ELSTER certificate file can be stored in the Android and iOS app “ElsterSmart” and can then be used both mobile and stationary.

Third place in the OZG category went to the “Bundesportal” of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Homeland Affairs (BMI). All information on the projects entered in the final round and the respective winners can be found at an in the press release from BearinPoint (both only in German).

Photocredit: Andrew Graumann / BearingPoint