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Building Digital Infrastructure for Government Services and Administration

November 30, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm EST

While global challenges are addressed by national governments, increasingly subnational actors such as states, communities, and cities have needed to step up to take action when traditional nation-states have been unable to progress due to political polarization and partisan gridlocks. This trend has also characterized transatlantic relations and the German-American partnership. The German-American State Legislator Dialogue draws on this notion, focusing on the role of state representatives from the United States and Germany in addressing common transatlantic challenges.

In recent years, the digitalization of government services and administration has become increasingly crucial for the state-level to ensure efficient and effective service delivery. This is particularly relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further accelerated the need for remote and digital access to government services, from filing tax returns to renewing a driver’s license or applying for social welfare benefits. In this discussion as part of the series State-to-State: German-American State Legislator Dialogue, we will explore the benefits of digitalization and what steps state legislators in Germany and the United States have taken to promote the digitalization of government services and administration. Alternatively, in order for these efforts to be well-received, what measures are being taken to ensure that citizens are willing and able to embrace a shift to e-government? What steps are being taken towards digital literacy and equitable, broad access? State legislators on both sides of the Atlantic will also explore the challenges and concerns that accompany the digitalization of government services, including how to protect citizens’ privacy and data and address cybersecurity concerns. This event aims to share insights on digital transformation strategies and focus on how best practices from the state level in one country may be implemented or mirrored in another.

Join the American Council on Germany and the Aspen Institute Germany for our next State-to-State: German-American State Legislator Dialogue for a discussion with German and American state legislators including Eva Botzenhart (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Bürgerschaft Hamburg; Ellen Demuth (CDU), State Parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate; Representative Parenti (D), Colorado General Assembly; Senator Bo Watson (R), Tennessee General Assembly.

Eva Botzenhart (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) is a member of the Green parliamentary group in the Bürgerschaft Hamburg, Germany, the parliament of Hamburg State. She is the spokesperson for transport, digitalization, and data protection. For over 20 years, she was professionally responsible for IT and the network of the Green parliamentary group. Ms. Botzenhart sees the German Online Access Act (OZG) as the first step towards advancing the digitalization of the administration, but: “The upcoming new edition of the OZG is urgently needed. After all, the OZG 1.0 only stipulated that citizens can apply for administrative services digitally. However, the processes behind this must also be digitalized!” In addition to the great importance of data protection, she is enthusiastic about the EfA principle (One for All), in which federal states build digital applications for use by all other states.

Ellen Demuth (CDU) has been a Member of the State Parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate since 2011, currently serving as the Deputy Chairwoman of the local CDU State Parliamentary Group, where she is responsible for health and social policy. Directly elected three times to the State Parliament, she is a Member of the Committee for Media, Internet, and Digitalization and of the Committee of Female Empowerment and Gender Equality. Since 2022, she has acted as one of three deputies on the CDU State Executive Board. Ms. Demuth holds a Double Degree in Business and Business Administration from the International University of Applied Sciences, having previously obtained a Bachelor of Business at the University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

Representative Jennifer Parenti (D) is the State Representative for Colorado House District 19, representing the communities of Dacono, Erie, Frederick, Firestone, East Longmont, and surrounding areas. She was elected to the Colorado State House in 2022 and serves on the Joint Technology Committee and Transportation, Housing, & Local Government and Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources committees. Representative Parenti retired from the US Air Force in August 2014 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after a successful career as an information systems program manager, instructor, and international affairs advisor. After retirement, she joined the International Staff of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a strategic planner and Joint Fires facilitator in the Defense Investment Division, advising Allies on opportunities to fulfill NATO investment obligations through cooperative development.  After returning to her native Colorado in 2019, she became active in community and political organizing, supporting veterans, voting rights, and open and accountable government, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and championing other progressive causes. She lives in Erie (Weld County), CO with the younger of her two children and is a proud alumnus of the 2011 American Council on Germany Young Leader program.

Senator Bo Watson (R) is a Tennessee State Senator and has represented part of Hamilton County in the Tennessee General Assembly since 2004. Since 2017, Senator Watson has served as the Chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.  It is a top priority of Senator Watson’s that the state of Tennessee is a good steward of taxpayer dollars. Under his leadership, Tennessee has ranked #1 in the nation for fiscal stability, maintained a AAA bond rating, and developed a $1.8 billion rainy day fund – all with no state income tax. From 2011 – 2016, Senator Watson served as Speaker Pro Tempore of the Tennessee Senate and from 2009 – 2010 was Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee. In addition to his public service, Senator Watson is a licensed physical therapist and market director for therapy services at HCA Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga. He graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.


November 30, 2023
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
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