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eGovernment interoperability is a cultural, not a technical issue

Republished from eGovAU.

This post from Oliver Bell’s OSRIN blog, eGovernment Interoperability Frameworks, time for a rethink?, served to crystalise thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for awhile.

Oliver contends that most of the technical standards for interoperability via the internet have been resolved, with commercial and citizen usage of the internet built on these standards over the last ten years or more.

He argues that the primary issues remaining are around the cultural willingness for different parts of government and different governments to work together and with the commercial sector to deliver interoperable services online.

While I am not an IT architect by training (in fact I come from a business stream), my formal education and twenty years of working experience have taught me a fair amount about how to connect systems together to achieve outcomes (not always IT systems).

In my experience there are no insurmountable engineering issues – you can always find a way to exchange data in a meaningful way using the right translators and formats.

However sometimes the engineering issues appear to be insurmountable because of entrenched interests and policies – human rather than technical issues.

These often arise, in both commercial and public sectors, out of procedure-driven cultures, political struggles, poor communication, lack of knowledge, pride or prejudice.

Solve these cultural and human issues, allocate some funds and the engineering issues around interoperability largely go away.

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