Digital Transformation: Interoperability as the Bedrock of #gov20 Efforts

The multi-vendor interoperability test board at the University Of Warwick

The multi-vendor interoperability test board at the University Of Warwick

My friend Craig Shank wrote an article over at Microsoft on the Issues about the transformative power of ICT in government. And he has rightfully placed interoperability near the top of the list of items that must be done right to be successful.

He focuses on four main areas:

  • Government agencies should focus first on delivering services that meet the public’s need.
  • With that need in mind, the key stakeholders should agree on what success looks like at the outset of any e-government project and what will be needed to achieve that success – not just as a technical matter, but in light of the important organizational, legal, political and cultural mappings between different systems.
  • Government agencies will also need to speak the same language across borders – figuratively, not literally – and agree on the meaning and use of their data, independent of organization, culture or language differences.
  • Government agencies should make use of widely adopted technical standards to facilitate interoperability, rather than focus upon any particular technology, vendor solution or development approach.

I think he sets out some great ideas and I agree that these are vital. A few points of clarification:

I believe that the focus indeed should be on providing services that fit a public need. I think we should augment this statement slightly to envelop the idea of “Government as a Platform” so we can move these ideas forward in the most cost effective manner. As we target workloads for app development, lets also target who should be providing what. Direct service provision by Government in a few cases, Government providing open data in most cases, the private sector and partners delivering services on top of the data platform whenever feasible.

A characterization of the effort as, before all else, focusing on the business needs of Government is a great idea. The technical barriers and requirements will come up, but we should be driven by things like better education, economic growth, clean environments and safe streets.

As a huge advocate for GJXML and NIEM when I worked as a CIO in the US, I can tell you how complicated the data dictionary work is across complicated silos in the Justice arena. And while it only gets more complex across the whole of Government, I can certify that this is the right goal to keep in mind. Common taxonomy is a must.

And standardization precedes success.

I think this is a great set of principles to keep in mind as we fight to deploy Government 2.0, Government as a Platform and other ideas into our collective mindset.

Keep up the good work!

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