Making e-Government work better
This week has seen the launch of several initiatives by the European Commission to improve e-Government services for European citizens, including an overall action plan
and a new Framework
to make these services work better.
Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes highlighted the importance of e-Government and these initiatives for all of us who need and use public services, as well as for the administrations that provide them:
“The economic crisis and demographic changes are forcing Governments to rethink how they operate. At the same time hundreds of millions of citizens not only depend on public services, they also want a new and more interactive relationship with their governments. These dual pressures make it inevitable that governments must make smarter use of ICT.”
With 27 member states and a population approaching half a billion people, fulfilling this goal in the EU will be daunting! The Commission has a set of ambitious and forward looking plans on how to accomplish this.
These plans address challenges like increasing the sheer availability and uptake of e-Government services, but also making sure these services actually do things that citizens want. The needs to increase the use of ICT in public procurement, as well to enhance the transparency of government services, are also highlighted. Improving efficiency, effectiveness and cost-benefits – particularly for cross-border e-Government services – are rightly made high priorities in the Commission’s plans.
A final pillar that is expanded upon in more detail in the Commission’s updated e-Government Interoperability Framework is the need for these services to communicate seamlessly with each other, that is, to “interoperate”. This is vital to encourage cost savings and more consistent e-Government services, particularly between countries. In this regard, the Commission’s new Framework is significant in that it recognizes that interoperability is not only a technical issue – indeed, large system projects rarely fail today because the components cannot achieve technical interoperability. Semantic, legal and even organizational interoperability are also important.
The Framework’s continued emphasis on technical neutrality, openness and adaptability, which stem from the 12 underlying principles established when work on this Framework began, are also crucial for encouraging healthy competition among different companies’ implementations of interoperable technologies.
Microsoft welcomes the Commission’s e-Government action plan and Framework as a thoughtful step toward improving the transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of government services for all European citizens.