Sean McGrath and Conor O’Reilly: A Service Oriented Approach to e-Government Architecture. About the approach taken to using Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and XML representations of data as the basis for service delivery and modernization of e-government in Ireland.

Flexible and reusable e-government services based on an open data standards and non-proprietary technologies are emerging. In Ireland we are currently in the implementation phase of the Public Services Broker (PSB).

The PSB is an SOA. It will provide a common access point for e-Government services, common interface standards, procedures and supporting services, together with the necessary infrastructure to make access to e-Government services as straightforward and secure as possible. In addition to supporting customer interaction, the PSB will also provide the standard mechanism for supporting government inter-agency collaboration.

Although I hear about many advantages with a central broker from Alan Mather and many others, I personally don’t think it is the right way forward, at least not when I look at things in Denmark. On the other hand, if the broker can enable a service-oriented and loosely coupled architecture, why not?

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  • Actually the SOA concept is about multiple federated hubs rather than a central hub. In the case of regional government or large government agencies each of them would have there own SOA. On their SOA messages bound for outside agencies/services would go through a default gateway service which would route it to other hubs. Their messages would remain on their SOA. The important concepts which allows this to occur is the concept of business level message envelopes and that the core infrastructure is based on async messaging once you are within the Core SOA.Also the fact that the routing mechanism is dumb it does not do orchestration only message delivery based on address – electronic DHL for government.
    An SOA environment within government and between governments would allow inter-agency and inter-governmental services to evolve. While a bilateral exchange of messages is brittal and does not allow for the net-effect to occur.
    The Irish PSB is just the SOA associated with getting citizen,non-citizen and business service requests from the PSB Portal to the government agencies that fulfill the service.It is also an infrastructure which allows agencies to integrate their services and communicate with each other.
    The PSB SOA it’s self will be a number of hubs to allow for availability and load balancing.
    Currently there are three SOA’s functioning in Irish government – IAMS (inter-agency messaging service), DEPS (Death events publication service) – both operated by Reach ( and DISC (an SOA operated by And I would hope there would be a lot more since this approach is good from both a business modeling prospective (what documents do we send and what is the conversation we have with these documents) and a technology perspective (async messaging is old technology and well proven – not a mesh of bilateral webservices).
    Though I admit from the presentation/paper it is not obvious that a federation of hubs is suggested.

  • +1 to Conor’s comments.

    I will be presenting a paper at ECEG 2004 ( in which I will be highlighting the advantages of the decentralised, inter-connected hubs e-Government model for countries with devolved administrations and/or automomous local government.


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