“An enormous number of fates hang over at the Federal Employment Agency overnight.” The authority outlines the exceptional situation for citizens, employees and its own IT organization. The agency, based in Nuremberg, expanded its IT strategy with an “express digitization by Covid-19”. For this she also uses agile methods. Among other things, the initiative created a “life situation-based” online portal, a revised homepage, an app and a chatbot. Internally, the agency is now focusing on mobile working and agility. With the package of measures, the BA is applying for the Digital Leader Award (DLA).
At the height of the corona crisis, citizens clicked on the BA’s homepage around 800,000 times a day. More companies than ever had to apply for short-time work, and help for solo self-employed and small businesses was decided. In addition, significantly more educational institutions who want to get reimbursed register.
According to its own account, the BA, which operates around 600 job centers nationwide, has one of the largest official IT infrastructures in Europe. These include three data centers, around 10,000 servers and 16,000 network components. The IT department manages 120 applications and 30 projects. The agency wants to see itself as a guide to digitization. In the Corona crisis, she relies on self-service. The newly designed online portal is intended to inform citizens at low threshold. “Life situation-based” means in concrete terms: At Arbeitssagentur.de, those seeking advice first click on whether they are a private person, company or institution. Private citizens will find six chapters, from “unemployed and finding work” to “family and children” to “career and further education”. A corona update should always provide current information.
The BA received tailwind from the federal government. On March 20, together with various initiatives, the company launched the “WirvsVirus” hackathon to generate creative digital solutions against the pandemic. The BA contributes to the U: Do chatbot. It was implemented within three weeks. Its task is to help applicants in terms of short-time work benefits intuitively and easily understandable. The organizers of the hackathon voted the chatbot one of 20 winners. In addition, the BA has developed an app that applicants can use to upload the form without prior registration. This should speed up the internal processing.
The measures mentioned are aimed directly at the citizens, in the official language “customers”. Internal challenges now arise for agency employees who have to be protected against Covid-19. The authority had to set up remote workplaces and reduce direct contact with citizens in a controlled manner. Employees now communicate a lot through audio and video tools. The agency has expanded the IT dialogue, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. – also on Saturdays and on public holidays.
The BA aims at holistic workplace management and has expanded hardware and software licenses in three stages, for example. In numbers: before the Corona crisis, the house had 6,500 licenses – now 36,500 have been bought. A total of 40 servers from other IT areas were converted and integrated into the remote platform, and almost 300 servers were also purchased. In the future, around 50,000 users will be able to work simultaneously instead of 6,500. In terms of work culture, the authority wants to achieve an agile transition. This is based on five components: lean regulations, the integration of users and customers, interdisciplinary teams, short supply chains and a supporting infrastructure.
In concrete terms, the authority launched the “BArcamp” for this purpose: Colleagues from various departments meet regularly in workshops to develop new software to deal with the corona crisis. The meetings are explicitly understood as technology workshops; But everyone who brings interest and creativity should participate. There are currently two BArcamps, one for short-time work benefits and one for SGBII (“basic security for job seekers”).
The “IT Taskforce Corona” of the Federal Employment Agency currently has 21 members, including CIO Markus Schmitz. Other colleagues organize themselves in the IT task forces “UCC, service center and telephony platform” and “Further development and IT platform”. If the DLA does not work out, your commitment will not go unnoticed: Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, thanked the colleagues publicly for “their fantastic commitment in difficult times”.
Federal Employment Agency (BA) | Digital package of measures
Branch: public sector
Use case: Protection of citizens and employees from infections
Project: Express digitization by Covid-19
External measures: Self-service via online portal, chatbot, homepage, app
Internal measures: Home office workplaces, interdisciplinary idea workshops, expansion of servers, licenses and bandwidth
Teams: “Corona IT Task Force”, including CIO Markus Schmitz