GERMANY: De-Mail, the scarcely used electronic equivalent to letter post, caused costs of €6.5 million


The Ministry has failed to establish De-Mail, the German e-mail communications service, as electronic equivalent to letter post within the German federal government. Authorities, citizens and companies hardly ever use De-Mail for electronic communication.

In 2014, the German government announced the goal of establishing De-Mail as the federal government’s default communication service. With the act to promote electronic government (E-Government Act), the Parliament introduced De-Mail throughout federal departments. Since 2016, De-Mail has allowed citizens and companies to communicate electronically with federal authorities in a legally reliable way, e.g. in the process of submitting applications. The Ministry coordinated the activities aimed to connect federal authorities to De-Mail. The Ministry expected that up to 6 million De-Mails would be sent within the first four years of introduction. Compared to letter post, De-Mail was expected to save up to €3.5 million between 2016 and 2019. In fact, however, the federal authorities sent only 6000 De-Mails instead of the expected 6 million during this period. Thus, the federal authorities saved about €3500. In FYs 2011-2020, the federal government spent at least €6.5 million for the De-Mail communications service.

So far, the Ministry has not assessed the extent to which De-Mail provides good value for money. In 2017, another law on digital transformation in the public sector, the Online Access Act, entered into force. With this law, citizens and companies will have further possibilities, apart from De-Mail, to communicate electronically with the public authorities. It is also against this background that the German SAI questions the efficiency of De-Mail. It demands the Federal Ministry to decide to what extent citizens and companies still need De-Mail to communicate with federal authorities.