An Innovative Government Architecture with Semantic Technology

An Innovative Government Architecture with Semantic Technology

Wout Hofman (Department of Technical Science, The Netherlands Institute of Applied Technology (TNO), Soesterberg, the Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPADA.2016040104
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Over the past decade, authorities invested highly in public service provision over the Internet via portals. Back office systems of authorities collect and store data entered by citizens and enterprises to support decision-making by civilians. The data represents both the state of citizens and enterprises, public service transactions, and the physical infrastructure including ownership relations. Whilst civilians use the data for decisions, data quality influences decision quality. As data steward, civilians have improved data quality by removing duplicate data and created specific data stores for reference data like addresses, enterprises, and citizens. Citizens and enterprises can use reference data to complete electronic public service request forms. To further improve data quality, civilians perform physical inspections and/or assess external data sources to validate for instance data consistency. Besides data steward, civilians are also data custodian: they provide processing and storage facilities. In this contribution, the author will argue that an innovative architecture separating data steward and data custodian roles, currently held by civilians, decreases the Total Cost of Ownership of authorities' IT and contributes to economic growth. In the proposed approach, persons and organizations take the data stewardship role, facilitated by a provider of a data custodian role either in the public or private domain. Civilians can access the data for decision-making. Civilians still act as data steward with respect to additional data resources than provided by citizens and enterprises in decision-making. The approach is illustrated by a case and supported by the governance policy of for instance Dutch Customs Authority.
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1. Introduction

Over the past decades, governments are faced with various challenges forcing to reduce costs (Deloitte, 2012) whilst still upholding public values (Jørgensen & Bozeman, 2002), (Bruijn & Dicke, 2006). Payments, accountability, property management, contract resource management, redundancy, and technology are identified as the main areas of concern (Deloitte, 2012). With the objective to reduce costs by stimulating self-service for public service provision, authorities are not yet able to manage Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of IT (Matthijssen, 2013). Over the past decades, there are various examples of increased IT costs, the latest examples given by (Wijkstra, Mondernizing GBA will cost 30 million Euro extra (in Dutch), 2013) and (Wijkstra, 2014) for the Netherlands. There are those that argue that the role of government needs to radically change by gathering and analyzing citizens and enterprise data, either based on data pooling across tiers of government (see (Margetts & Dunleavy, 2013), where it is called ‘intelligent center/devolved delivery’) or from the private sector (see (Bukhsh & Weigand, 2012), where it is called ‘Horizontal Supervision’). Government needs to act rather as a facilitator than provider (Broek, Frissen, Huijboom, & Punie, 2010). It is the expectation that the next change will be ‘everyday eGovernment’, delivered by an upside-down business model and fuelled by freely available public data (Millard, 2010).

Instead of simplifying technology, governments increase its complexity (Wijkstra, 2014), whilst on the other hand adoption and usage by citizens and enterprises does not yet meet expectations and governments are not yet able to operate as one, given views presented in the past (Hagen & Kubicek, 2000). Self-service by citizens and enterprises is stimulated by providing public services over the Internet (Heineke & Davis, 2007) leading to complex systems (Keller, 2014), complemented with transparency based on opening data managed by authorities (Berners-Lee, 2009) promising economic growth (OECD, 2013) and introducing yet additional research questions (Zuiderwijk, Helbig, Gil-Garcia, & Janssen, 2014). Governments are forced to become more open and transparent, providing information on the data of their citizens and enterprises stored in the public domain and its purpose (Millard, 2013). Open governance is the approach, in which the public sector is the main partner to define and maintain ‘public values’ and can be held accountable for their activities and behavior. Complexity further increases by creating public service interoperability across European Union (EU) Member States to create a single (Eropean Commission, 2009). The European Commission (EC) strives for semantic interoperability with agreed standards ((Peristeras, 2014) and (Eropean Commission, 2009)) supported by an infrastructure, both at European - (CEN, 2009) and national level (Logius, 2012).

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