Interoperability Framework for Digital Public Services and Administration

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Governments across the world are putting in concerted effort for effective e-Governance. This includes information exchange and interoperability among government departments. The days when departments used to build systems to address their individual demands and facilitate only their functions are over. Now, multiple departments collaborate and multiply their number of applications, databases and functions towards homogenous, targeted and effective service delivery. The “Whole of Government ” pursuit  requires better coordination and collaboration in development and implementation of e-Governance programs, wherein these applications and databases interacting among each other can bring considerable value to business, citizens and effectiveness in government function. e-GIF (e-Government Interoperability Framework) brings in a broad sense of technical standards and best practices to government enterprise architecture. This adherence to e-GIF standards in design and implementation allows better sharing and collaboration within government agencies.

“For an EU citizen, the interoperability framework translates to a faster and seamless service experience across the EU Single Market. The EIF ensures that information sources, security policies, data management etc. are integrated across organizations as well across borders.”

In this pursuit, Governments have come up with their National Interoperability Framework (NIF). These frameworks are published on public forum of respective government for ready reference, for example –

  • Australian National Collaboration Framework is available on GovDex platform
  • Denmark’s NIF is available on Digitaliser.dk
  • New Zealand’s eGIF
  • Estonian IT interoperability Framework

The achievement of a pan European cross border interoperability framework (EIF) is an ambitious e-Government initiative. All EU countries are digitizing their public administration. By following the recommendations and common approaches provided in EIF, EU countries will be able to make their services accessible not only within their national borders, but also across countries and policy areas. It will certainly help save time, reduce costs, improve transparency and increase quality of services. 

 

 

The EIF pillars represented in below picture consist of 

 

#1 Conceptual Model

#4 + 2 Interoperability Layers

#12 Underlying Principles

 

 

Each of the pillars is guided by a set of recommendation(s). There are a total of 47 recommendations included in EIF 2.0. These recommendations offer concrete action plans on how to improve governance of interoperability activities, establish cross-organizational relationships, streamline processes supporting end-to-end digital services, and ensure both existing and new legislation do not compromise interoperability efforts. The recommendations are published for each of these areas – Conceptual Model, Layers of Interoperability and Principles. The detailed list of these principles is available here.

Conceptual Model of Interoperability

The model defines the basic structure and elements of framework that help organizations to build interoperability. Following elements are considered when building interoperable services & components:
 
  1. Model: For designing new services and reengineering existing ones whenever possible.
  2. Internal Information and Services 
  3. Base Registries: The trusted and authoritative source of information.
  4. Open Data: To help with fair competition, innovation and data driven economy, public sector data is made available in non-discriminatory manner.
  5. Catalogues: To help find reusable sources of information such as services, data, software, data models etc.
  6. External Information Sources and Services: These include external information such as open data and data from international organizations, chambers of commerce, social web applications etc.
  7. Security and Privacy

Layers of Interoperability

  1. Interoperability Governance:  It refers to institutional arrangements, organizational structures, roles and responsibilities, policies, agreements and other aspects of ensuring and monitoring interoperability at national and EU levels
  2. Integrated Public Service Governance: To ensure integration, seamless execution, reuse of services and data, and development of new services
  3. Legal Interoperability: It includes the analysis and synchronization of legislation that regulates the operation of two or more organizations willing to cooperate for delivery of interconnected services and data exchange.
  4. Organizational Interoperability: It involves simplification of goals, processes and involved entities to ensure that organizations agree on business terms and collaboration for mutual benefit.
  5. Semantic Interoperability: This layer aims to ensure the precise meaning of exchanged information is preserved and well-understood.
  6. Technical Interoperability: In this layer all the technical aspects linking computer systems and services are defined.

Principles of Interoperability

There are 12 underlying principles identified in EIF 2.0.
SI Principle Description
1
Subsidiarity and Proportionality
Take only those actions that are important, effective and in line with Treatise.
2
Openness
It mainly relates to data specification and software
3
Transparency
Ensure visibility in rules, administration and processes, citizen data protection.
4
Reusability
In reference to software components, API, Standards etc.
5
Technological Neutrality and Data Portability
6
User-Centricity
This principle guides design thinking approach and constant communication with users.
7
Inclusion and Accessibility
Enabling everyone including disadvantaged people to take advantage of public services.
8
Security and Privacy
9
Multilingualism
Services should be available in language of end users
10
Administrative Simplification
Reducing administrative burden and multiple hops of request by process simplification.
11
Preservation of Information
To guarantee secure access and long term preservation of electronic records.
12
Assessment of effectiveness and efficiency
Monitoring at various levels such as ROI, TCO, Level of Flexibility, reduction in administrative burden, user satisfaction etc.

Further Readings

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