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(Become) A Service-Oriented Government!

Introduction

The wording of this title is ambiguous by purpose. The two meanings are 1) that government should orient itself to deliver services to constituents in a customer-friendly way; and 2) that government can use IT components that can be redeployed in many circumstances and as such promise (development) flexibility. Corinne Reisert, in her start of the blog Why Enterprise Service-Oriented Architecture is helpful for Public Sector, makes this distinction.   There are wide implications. The approach from technology has a parlance of brokers, middleware, webservices that at best are formulated as enabling specific business drivers. Often it is positioned as a way to reduce software costs by stressing the ROI of SOA or the reduction in the time to implement new policies. We like to state that the director generally remains silent to such wordings. Even expanding the case with words as ‘differentiation’ (like in the classical Netweaver presentation) does not open the door.  In the Queen’s Speech of May 2006, Tony Blair said: “Reform means driving innovation and improvement through more diverse provision and putting people in the driving seat.” The alternative approach starts from policy making (the strategic apex of the public sector) and takes the drivers on the agenda of politicians. Political leaders show themselves what has to be on the agenda: transformation. The Other Government program began in 2002  ). The Dutch Government expressed the intention of enabling government organizations to perform demonstrably better with IT and to be among to the top in Europe and utilize the capabilities of IT better for greater economic and social profitability. The policy statement was: ”     1.      Government is going to improve its service to the citizen. 2.      Government is going to regulate less and differently. 3.     Central government is going to organize itself better. 4.      Central government is going to reform its relations with provinces and  municipalities.”  Dutch government subsequently adopted a set of policies to transform all government organizations. Laws have been passed to force the agenda of modernization. Guidelines and architectural frameworks have been developed since then. The core themes for the transformation are: –     Improve service delivery capabilities. Focus on customer orientation. Provide one-stop-shopping and provide authentication tools for e-government presence for all agencies. –     Reduce bureaucracy. Agencies share information and have access to each other’s files. Citizens don’t have to inform each department and municipal service about the same changes. –     Be effective. Collaborate and work as one virtual department. Allow co-ordination of work even if distributed and be able to assign one ‘owner’ of a task. –     Change our mindset. As such not possible, but at least the attitude of civil servants can be addressed and improvements, also in the IT capabilities, can be supported.  The Government Reference Model Based on this innovation of the governmental way of working, a consolidated model has been developed. SAP organized a conference in The Netherlands to discuss this development of the Other Government. A conference book was published that used a common model for all contributions. In the introduction, Ab Frohwein elaborated on a comprehensive model to discuss the developments.  ) The ‘Government Reference Model’ contains the primary and secondary processes of government together with a framework containing a number of the most important policy principles of Other Government. It offers a way of thinking for going step by step towards service-oriented government. It provides a spotlight on the reform agenda and shows the opportunities for making radical improvements.    The ‘Government Reference Model’  The Government Reference Model is built up into the final model section by section. We start with the primary and secondary processes of the government before moving on to the discussion of the implications for policy. For each section a general indication is given of what the development entails, what the current state of the IT structure is and what impact the development has on IT.  In this model we distinguish 12 developments and policy principles.image1 to 5:  Development of the primary processes  Each government organization is responsible for executing one or more of the five primary processes: making policy, raising taxes and collecting revenues, assigning funds and disbursements of grants, executing laws (a wide range of different processes) and controlling the application of laws. In the field of primary processes government, with just a few exceptions, even in 2007, is using bespoke systems. These customized systems are at the end of their life cycle, are difficult to adapt to the new legislation and regulations and are very expensive to maintain. They were never designed for cooperation in (supply) chains. Any attempts at decompartmentalization of these silo’s would consequently be futile and merely be cosmetic. A shift to application packages is to be expected. The replacement of some of these customized systems with (ERP-based) application packages was only started two years ago.  6: Development of the secondary processes If we look at the secondary processes, the administration or support services as they are also called, then we see that in recent years there has been a major switch to application packages. SAP clearly has the leading edge in this area. At various Ministries application packages have now been introduced for financial accounting and personnel processes. At the same time the purchasing process at a great many government organizations is currently under scrutiny and work is under way on replacement of the customized systems with an application package.   7: Policy principle to use of Digital files and folders Under the Other Government style of thinking, the citizen and the enterprise take centre stage in the services of government. As a result it is no longer the individual processes that are guiding, but rather the file of the citizen or the business approaching the government. A 360-degree understanding of all contact-moments in connection with the file (the case) is the consequence. All relevant information concerning the government’s customers must be available in digital form. Work flow processes must be re-created involving sharing of digital files.  8: Policy principle for Chain integration Government organizations are not isolated islands in the execution of the tasks assigned to them. They are dependent on cooperation with Ministries, independent authorities, municipalities, provinces and sometimes even the corporate sector. The policy of Other Government is aimed at giving simpler and clearer shape to this cooperation in the chains. This means that apart from the developments within the organization itself, the developments of the organizations in their own chain are also important. Collaboration gets prime focus, which inevitably gives opportunities to reduce costs.     9: Policy principle to use Core Registrations  The idea behind core registrations is that citizens, business and other organizations only have to have their details registered at one place and one time and these are subsequently used in all their interaction with government. In all contacts thereafter the core registrations are used as a starting point. The main consequences are that the basic records must be managed centrally and that all government organizations must be connected. The government organizations are obliged by law to use these core registrations.  10: Policy principle to adopt a Government desktop A policy principle affecting every government organization is the central and shared desktop. The objectives of the introduction of one format for the government desktop are:  1)     The public sector worker can do her work anywhere and at any time 2)     To be an attractive employer for new recruits  3)     One-off entry of data 4)     Portals and personalized access  11: Policy principle to share Political and management information Political and management information refers to the retrieval of unstructured ad hoc information from government systems in support of decision-making processes or accountability – across separate organizations in a unified manner. Currently, only a small part of the links between the government systems exists in the current IT infrastructure.image12: Policy principle to provide Customer-friendly access Key to customer-friendly accessibility is a government that offers the citizen and the corporate sector the opportunity to use the services of government over the internet. This means that all the processes that we currently still have to access to by going to the municipality or the province for example in person, are also handled over the internet. Examples of services that can be available over the Internet are applying for permits or subsidies. This customer-friendly accessibility makes deep inroads into the current processes, not only at the front (the applications), but also during the process (feedback of status and decision-making on the application) and at the end of the process (the final decision and the follow-up activities). 

Conclusion

This model can be used to map IT solutions based on a common framework – based on SAP of course.   What should the IT manager say to this? It is impossible to realize all these changes with a big-bang approach. Firstly, because it involves too many risks and secondly because it means that much that is good would be discarded: a disinvestment that no organization can afford. An evolutionary process is required, a process consisting of the setting up of a future architecture on the basis of the existing architecture and then slowly migrating to the new architecture. As regards the agenda, a common capability must be made available. Otherwise new islands will result. Such a capability should be based on a framework such as provided by SAP. SAP is an open framework that combines common functions, integrations capabilities and shared business solutions.   A handsome and practical way to get to grips is to develop a SOA-Roadmap that covers all implementation issues.  It develops the Architecture of eSOA and unites visions from enterprise and IT sides.  Albert Kuiper, Capgemini (he can be reached at albert.kuiper@capgemini.com) Hein Keijzer, SAP (he can be reached at hein.keijzer@sap.com) imageDrs. Albert Kuiper MBT CMC joined the Public Sector at Capgemini in 2003. Since 1992 he has been working in the telecom sector as a strategic business consultant, specializing on customer care and billing and launches of telco’s. Albert has an MBA with a focus on public administration and consulting; and he has a masters degree in telecommunications.

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  1. Angus MacGregor-Millar
    Morning All, building on the successful launch at SAPPHIRE Atlanta of the Public Sector pages within the community we will be hosting two informal get-togethers in the community lounges in Vienna. Under the motto “Service Orientated Government” Hein Keijzer, Corinne Reisert and myself are looking forward to meeting others from the community that are interested in how to best serve the Public Sector both across the BPX Community itself and with service orientated architectures. Come by on either Monday, 14th May at 13:00hrs, or Tuesday, 15th May at 12:00hrs – and hope to see you there.
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