I found this fascinating quote today:

 

 

It’s easy to say “preserve the best of the old and combine it with the best of the new,” but in revolution, the best of the new is incompatible with the best of the old. It’s about doing things a whole new way.

 

It is part of Clay Shirky Keynote at NFAIS annual conference as it was told by Ann Michael under “The Scholarly Kitchen”

 

I’m not the only one in Spain who follows and admires the work done by David Osimo. It is certainly one of the main leaders of the Government 2.0 European scene  and perhaps I only miss some more posts on his blog, through which many of us were initiated on the subject. His latest feat has been promoting the development of “An Open Declaration on European Public Services”.

I must express my solidarity with the principles that the Declaration proposes for the governance of public services in Europe, but I think David, this time, has fallen short. Too much emphasis on giving a place to the society in developing them and little (none) space dedicated to changing organizational model of public administrations. The change of the model is essential to progress towards the improvement of many public services, for instance electronic government services.

Forgetting is logical given that virtually all of the actors who have worked with David are not part of the Public Administrations. I do not want it to be understood as corporatism, but as self-criticism toward those of us who have not worked hard enough in the issue. This is a clear signal that the evolution of European public services it is only possible through an evolution in our ways of working.

After this speech of contrition, coming out of time, I provide David this belated contribution to the effort. A fourth principle that  in my opinion should also govern European public services:

Intelligent Public Administrations, collaboration between public organisations and most active civil servants are cornerstones in building european public services. Greater fluidity in the relations and exchange of information between public organizations, will allow to build public services more adapted to the needs of society and that require less administrative burdens on citizens. It is needed to take advantage of and enhance the internal capabilities of public organizations with a more efficient and effective use of civil servants, changing their ways of working through tools that allow them greater contact between them and with citizens who serve.

Anyway, I have endorsed the declaration. And You?

The European Commission has made public, through its web site dedicated   eGovernment policies, the  paper “Visions and priorities for eGovernment in Europe-Orientations for a post 2010 eGovernment Action Plan”. The paper summarizes the work and ideas generated by the group of Member States representatives  and the European Commission throughout the development process of the Malmö Ministerial Declaration.

The document made public is structured in four parts:

  • Summary of the historical evolution of policy priorities of eGovernment in the European Union
  • IT Architectures to support the future e-government services
  • Policy priorities of the Malmö Ministerial Declaration
  • Ideas for the Action Plan following the adoption of the Declaration

The first part describes the historic journey of the priorities in eGovernment policies. Start by recalling the initial highlight of  efficiency and cost savings introduced by ICT, it continues with a description of the subsequent addition of the effectiveness and quality of service, to finally reach the present stage where the governance and public value creation together with the citizens are the main priorities without neglecting the aspects that were before stressed.

Co-creation of public value together with the citizens provokes a change in the IT architecture that supports   egovernment. The second part of the document is dedicated to describe this changes. It is the end of the monolithic architectures where the services are provided end-to-end based in government resources. It is the time for flexible architectures where the services are provided by the technological resources of public and private sector  in a coordinated manner. The European Commission called this stage of electronic government as “Tao Government”, of “unity based on the contraries.” The scenario is characterized by:

  • Public Administrations interacting with each other and with private actors
  • Co-creation and co-design of eGovernment services between citizens and Public Administrations
  • Governments more open, participatory and democratic based on collaboration tools
  • Use of ICT for a better evaluation and monitoring of the effects of public policies

The third part  of the paper outline the priorities that will be developed in the Malmö Ministerial Declaration. There are the result of the new scenario for the development of egovernment services described above, and the current socio-economic situation. The priorities identified are:

  • Economical: support for the development of the single market, by developing services to facilitate the mobility of citizens and businesses through the secure collaboration between governments
  • Social: empowering citizens and businesses, making of transparency and participation   the drivers towards governments more open and inclusive
  • Organization: promoting efficiency and effectiveness in government, making ICT the catalyst for the transformation towards Public Administrations more connected and collaborative between them

The paper ends with a final block devoted to developing an outline of the activities that the action plan following the declaration should contain. It does not make a specific detail, it is only a list of areas that should be contained in the plan of action clustered around two axes:

  • Applications, or thematic areas that must contain the plan of action:

    • eID-management

    • Services Directive and Human Mobility

    • Cross-Border Services

    • eParticipation

  • Conditions, o horizontal areas that affects all eGovernment services

    • Interoperability

    • Legal frameworks

    • User centricity

    • Inclusiveness

    • Organisational change

    • Green Government
  • Gestión de Identidad Electrónica

  • Directiva de servicios y movilidad de personas

  • Servicios transfronterizos

  • Participación Electrónica

The rationale of  Government 2.0 is listening to citizens. Government  2.0 should be the creation of citizens. In an effort to contribute to this creation process, David Osimo and others have launched “Co-Creating an open declaration on Public Services 2.0.” The objective is to generate a  contribution to the future “Malmö Ministerial Declaration”, which will define the priorities  eGovernment in the European Union for the coming years.

The rationale of the Government 2.0 is listening to citizens. Those who listen for the government are the civil servants. Redefining the role of the civil servant within the Government 2.0 will be one of its key enablers. Governments should  take advantage in a more efective way of the potential of civil servants in policy-making and the design, development and service provision.

Unleashing the innovative force of civil servants requires:

  • Changes in the workplace
  • More flexible working timetable
  • An effective internal knowledge management
  • Flow and sinergies  between internal and external knowledge

The latter is perhaps the most important.  The Government 2.0 can only be build if there are synergies between the citizens (customers) and civil servants (suppliers). The other side of citizen-driven policies and services  is an employee-centric Public Administration. The establishment of  incentive policies  for the participation of civil servants in the social networks where people discuss their ideas, is a key enabler of these synergies.

E-Government services, although very particular, do not cease to be a product. That is why I  often try to apply the logic of the master of marketing called  Seth Godin to  eGovernment. Here are a few lessons taken from  recent entries of his blog:

  • We’re boring, our services are a mere continuity of administrative procedures. They lack the concept of service, the complement of the procedure  with other  facilities that attract people to use them, going beyond the electronic counter.
  • We do not try to be alternative, we seek to be the next success story repeating someone model. This is not the issue, the thing is being the new kid in the block, provide the citizen with something not seen yet in the field of eGovernment. New technologies are at our disposal, social media allow us to be more effectives, help us gather ideas from citizens. Let’s do it.
  • We do not try to expand our customer-base, rather than expanding the number of services and provide new delivering mechanisms to reach more people, we look after those that they already use our services. We have to develop an inclusive e-government, involve the citizens in the design and production, enable them to become governizens.
  • Transform e-government web-sites into exclusive clubs, do not treat citizens as customers but as partners and owners. We should treat the citizens as old friends. Do not ask them to provide data that we have a thousand times, break the silo and establish e-channels with the other government units.

Denmark is one of the countries of the EU more engaged with the concept of Green IT and an early adopter of initiatives in the field. In accordance with the EUROSTAT  data from 2008, Denmark enjoyed a position of leadership in the incorporation to the Society of Information (37.4% use of broadband compared 21.7% average in UE27) and in the use of the eGovernment (41.3% compared with 25.5% average in UE27). This privileged situation has permitted an early adoption of the concept Green IT as a new frontrier. The fact of being Denmark the country host of the future “UN ClimateChange Conference” in December 2009, have also accelerated the activities in the area.

In April 2008, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Danish developed “Action for Plan Green IT in Denmark” This plan aims to bring back to consciousness citizens, companies and Administration for a rapid adoption of the concept in daily life. The plan has two priorities:

  • Greener IT use

  • IT solutions for a sustainable future

Within each priority there are a group of initiatives to develop. Directed specifically at the area of Public Administration, within the first priority, we can find the development of “Green IT Guidelines for Public Authorities”. The guide is aims to help Public Administrations to reach the target to reduce by 10% the energy consumption.

Given the complexity of any administrative body, its different initial situation and organizational diversity, “Green IT Guidelines for Public Authorities” do not establish measures of compulsory implementation, but 29 proposals of a guiding nature. These proposals are structured in five areas:

  • Purchases of equipment IT

  • Installation of Centres of Data processing

  • Use made of the equipment IT of the jobs

  • Behaviour greener than the public employee

  • Innovating use of technology

The reading of the document is highly recommendable. Each proposal is illustrated with its motivation and an a approach for its implementation. It is a real quick reference manual. Expected measures will be found in it (e.g. consolidation of servers) together with others of low cost and high effectiveness (e.g. non intrusivas campaigns to make greener the activity of the public employee).

The concept of Green IT can be defined as the investigation and use of the IT in an energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly manner. The implementation of this concept is in all the phases of the life-cycle of IT products and services : Design, production, usage and disposal. The need to promote the implementation of the concept of Green IT is derived from the fight against the climatic change, since IT are considered responsible for 2% of annual emissions of CO2 and it is thougth as a significant contributor to the reduction of 98% of remaining emissions (Source: Gartner).

The effect of IT on the environment is still difficult to make concrete, both in its positive and its negative aspects. We can speak of three different types of impact:

  • Direct, derivative of the production of the ICT

  • Indirect, consequence of the implementation of the ICT

  • Systemic, effects on the social structures and behaviour

A promotion policy of the concept of Green IT has to keep the balance of all these effects, evaluating both the environmental impact of the IT and their general contribution to the sustainability. The complexity of the balance between positive and negative effects of each type, can be seen in the specific case of Japan. According to a study of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications mentioned in an event of the OECD in 2008, the IT are responsible currently for 5% of emissions of CO2 of the country, but it is hoped they will be the contributors to more than 50% of the reduction in 68 million tons of C02 forecasted for 2012.

Given the growing important role that the IT play within the daily life of Public Adminsitrations, it begins to be in use the term Green IT Government. This term included the implementation of the concept Green IT within the Public Administrations and an active role of the latter in the promotion of the concept and its implementation by citizens and businesses. Within the Green IT Government we can fit therefore diverse measures, that include, among others, leadership (e.g. targets of reduction in energy consumption), promotion (e.g. aid for the technological renewal) or enforcement (e.g. profiling the public purchase).

The promotion of Green IT and Green IT Government policies will be obliged in the Member States of the EU by different international commitments. Axis of this policy will be:

1 January 2010, for various reasons, will be a date in which it is necessary to review the targets reached, with a national scope as European as well. An area in which both scopes of revision are crossed is that of Pan-European Electronic Government services (PEGS). “Action plan on Electronic Government i2010 – To accelerate the electronic administration in Europe for the benefit of all (COM/2006/0173)”, within the line of action ” Services of high impact for citizens and companies”, sets the following target:

Between 2006 and 2010 cooperation on additional high-impact eGovernment services will be agreed with Member States

The reasons for which the European Commission this aim was marked, are framed within the general policy of the European Union to promote the single market as a tool for the promotion of economic growth and to create a common area of harmonised civic rights. It means, finally, and advance on the extension of the right of the European citizens to choose the channel of relation with the Public Administrations as a driver of effectiveness and effectiveness.

The need to satisfy in a coordinated way all the dimensions of a public service (policy, financier, organizational, technical, legal) in the areas of cooperation and and conjugate this need with the interests of the Member States, has given way to the birth to a Two-speed Europe in each PEGS. The development of each service requires an effort in human and economic resources, both in the identification and the overcoming of barriers of sustainability, confidence, interoperability, multilingualism and governance. It is not surprising that the effort is is only assumed by a Member State if one of the following circumstances is given:

  • Existence of a legal obligation to satisfy
  • Appreciable efficiency gains, either for the Administration or in the reduction in administrative burdens for the citizens
  • Successful in the previous implementation of a national version of service
  • Existence of a target group of citizens of high social or economic interest (students, unemployed people, entrepreneurs, elderlies person)

A uniform progress in the development of a PEGS has been only produced when the European Commission has exercised a role of leadership, either establishing a clear policy or a legal obligation. It is the case, respectively, of eProcurement and the Single Point of Contact for Establishing Services (Services Directive). The approach has been always not to reduce the diversity but the cost of the existence of the latter.

The landscape described serves to learn lessons for our national environment. The Citizens’ Electronic Access to Public Services Act (Law 11/2007) establishes for the national government the obligation to satisfy for the citizens the right to choose among the electronic or face-to-face channels. This and other legal obligations derived from Law 11/2007 are subject to the availability of resources for the regional and local Administrations. Only the existence of a national target similar to the one established on the European level in the “Action plan on Electronic Government i2010 – Accelerate the electronic administration in Europe for the benefit of all (COM/2006/0173)”, and the leadership in its completion by the national government, can avoid the birth of a socio-economic and rights divide in the Spanish State.