Monday, 23 June 2008

Government architectures

Lots of effort is put in establishing government architectures. Interoperability frameworks are listing various technical standards and ICT governance is also put in place. People transform existing documents into different parts, like strategy, interoperability, and so on. Any good guidelines for IT architecture, including government architecture, should consider generic aspects like abstraction and decomposition, paradigms like SOA, and so on. Existing principles like 'multi-channeling' and 'no wrong door' are widely accepted by most governments. New technology to support these principles should be explored. Is it possible to create one virtual government (per country, for the EU, and global?)?

Besides changes in technology, other aspects need to be considered, since the environment is constantly changing. How to deal with Web x.* for instance. What does it mean for government behaviour? How to cope and integrate standards from the gaming environment for disclosing graphical information and interacting with citizens and companies? In this context, governments still consider graphical information as geographical information.

To be brief, we should set general principles for a government architecture and try to implement them in existing and new projects. Furthermore, we should consider new developments and integrate them in our approach. We have to keep an open mind. As IT architects, we should provide the means to government and business to do an possibly change their work with new means.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Structuring government systems - public services

There are many initiatives for creating an infrastructure for government organizations. Basically, these initiatives should cover two issues, namely customer effectiveness and process efficiency. Customers, citizens and companies, should get the services they require and processes should support those services in a proper way.
A number of national (Dutch) and international (EU) projects considers modeling of public services according to the laws they have to support. This is basically a correct assumption, because one of the tasks (or the only task) of government organizations is to execute one or more laws and possibly local regulation. However, there are some aspects lacking, namely:
  • A law is a (legal) model of restriction with respect to behavior of citizens and companies. An IT system should not model a law, but the underlying system on which the restrictions of the law are modeled.
  • Derivation of public services from laws gives an ideal input-output model of that public service. In practice, the behavior of citizens, companies and government organizations is more dynamic. These behavioral aspects should be considered, described and published when implementing public services.
  • Technically, public services and their input-output can be specified in many ways. It is advised to specify them as ontology with open standard, that can (automatically) be transformed into technical representations. Separation of functionality and technical representation should be the guiding principle.
Of course, there is more to it to implement this approach to public services, e.g. case management. We will discuss those aspects another time.