The Digital Taskforce today published the final version (actually marked “pre-public draft”) of the OECD Peer Review of e-Government in Denmark. That’s definately been worth waiting for, and is an absolute must-reader for everyone in e-government and enterprise architecture. The OECD-team has done an outstanding job. Good job, Edwin, Christian, Gustaf, and all!
The near 200 pages long review is full of good stuff, that should make everyone in Danish e-government not only proud, but also make us think about what we’re doing.
In line with the decentralised nature of Danish government, and the strong autonomy of local government, the Joint Board does not have any formal powers to decide how, where or when government organisations (other than those of its members) will implement e-government. While this is consistent with Danish traditions of public management, many people interviewed for this review felt that more mandatory e-government requirements would help achieve even stronger results â€“ especially in relation to adoption of the Danish “enterprise architecture” and related technical standards. Government-wide adoption of the enterprise architecture and standards for such things as ICT system and data interoperability is now widely acknowledged by OECD countries as being leading-edge e-government practice, supporting objectives such as increased efficiency, collaborative services delivery, and increased competitiveness of ICT industries. To achieve a full measure of these benefits, adoption of architectures and standards must be as widespread as possible. The question of how to respond to this situation is central to the ongoing progress of e-government in Denmark. (p. 9)
While these results are very positive, the fact that only 30% of respondents identified the Danish enterprise architecture as a significant driver, and only 12% cited the public sector modernisation programme, indicates that some aspects of e-government may benefit from more attention and leadership from the Joint Board.
Under Proposals for action, we find:
2. The Government could respond to widespread calls, from both within and outside government, to make certain aspects of e-government mandatory by assessing: 1) where, when and how moving away from the current approach of voluntarism might improve the results being achieved through e-government; and 2) what risks might arise from such a shift, both for individual organisations and government as a whole. Any such assessment could focus, in particular, on issues and options for change in the area of implementation of the Danish enterprise architecture and related technical standards.
16. Collaboration between government organisations is a key to achieving Denmarkâ€™s e-government goals. Much effort has been put into providing co-ordination, and common ICT infrastructures and frameworks in support of better collaboration. While resources are still committed to their ongoing development, it is now important that these frameworks be widely translated by individual organisations into e-government systems, services and processes. The Government should examine the adequacy and/or efficacy of incentives that exist for government organisations to adopt or align with these e-government frameworks, and alter them as required. In particular, in relation to the Danish enterprise architecture and associated technical standards, the Government should examine issues around translating these from concepts into actual implementations, and consider what actions can be taken to address them.
This result emphasises the importance of the work Denmark is doing in developing an enterprise architecture and other arrangements for achieving interoperability of information systems and data. It may also reflect the significant managerial and cultural challenges that accompany technological issues in this area of e-government.
On EA, the review identifies two major concerns:
- A major concern that, while the enterprise architecture and supporting standards and frameworks have been very well developed at the conceptual level, they are proving more difficult to translate into the actual standards and schemas required for implementation. Many people working to implement the architecture find it abstract and difficult to understand.
- A second major concern that, while municipalities are solidly committed to the concept of enterprise architecture and common standards, their heavy reliance on one ICT vendor that provides them with many proprietary (i.e. non-standard) systems significantly slows the pace of their adoption of standards, and therefore the rate at which collaborative e-government goals can be achieved.
All in all, the review mentions ‘enterprise architecture’ 53 times throughout the report. That should hopefully stimulate advances in the debates about EA, and as I said, make some of us think about where we’re going. Clearly, EA is important to advances in e-government. I’ve said that for years now, but it’s great to see OECD making the outcry so strongly as they do.