At cBrain we have been involved in the development of a new “all-in-one software solution for paperless governmental departments” as we describe it. For white paper on this solution click here.
The following is a translation of a news release from the Danish Ministry of Transport – click here.
The 4th of January 2010, the central department within the Ministry of Transport implemented a complete digitization of internal workflows. Already – after nearly three months – there is reason for saying that the project has been a success.
The full digitization involves casework, knowledge sharing, communication and archiving/journalizing done electronically in a single system, the electronic document and records management system, cBrain F2.
cBrain F2 was developed in collaboration between the IT company cBrain and the Ministry of Social Affairs, but the central Department within the Ministry of Transport is the first place where cBrain F2 is implemented throughout the entire organization.
Head of the Department, Jacob Heinsen explains it this way: “We have – like most others – through a number of years had an electronic document management system, but it was just not generating the desired benefits because the system was not integrated, and because the cases were still moving around the house on paper. With the new system, we have not banned the use of paper in the proceedings, but paper has simply been outperformed. The employees are experiencing that it now is easier to handle cases and submit them to management electronically. They will no longer need to make a lot of paper copies, and they can also continuously follow how the cases progresses in F2. With the new system electronic document and records management is no longer an additional task, but a real reduction in work.”
A user survey conducted after two months of operation confirm this impression. By switching from the existing electronic document and records management system to cBrain F2, employee satisfaction with the system went from “poor” to “satisfactory”. “You would think it was a lie, but employees say they were actually excited about work after the introduction of the new IT system,” says Jacob Heinsen.
Project leader Thomas Ginnerup-Nielsen says about his experiences with the project: “It’s been hard work, but actually we have not had any crises in the process. It is in itself unusual for a government IT project. But the ultimate test is, of course, the results living up to – well, actually exceeding – the objectives of the project.”
See a showcase of user survey and results here.
Questions can be directed to contacts mentioned in the news release.
What if employees in a government ministry were not allowed to move information on paper between desks any more, but were only allowed to move documents in digital form.
Well, this is happening in Europe where Denmark and Spain seem to be leading the way.
It has been a long time coming with many legal and bureaucratic barriers to be removed, i.e. requirements of formal signature, filling out of paper-based forms, etc.
Since January 2002 all Danish ministries have analyzed thousands of laws and regulations for barriers to e-government and a 2002/2003 analysis revealed 453 necessary changes in legislation and regulations. A deadline of the summer 2003 was established for the removal of these barriers and for the most part this was achieved successfully.
Obviously this was a major cultural change in the way governmental knowledge workers perform their jobs and a number of initiatives were started and new guidelines issued.
Since September 1, 2003 all government authorities have had the right to send documents to other authorities electronically and the right to demand that documents from other authorities be sent electronically.
The 2003 initiative aimed at promoting the use of e-mail and Internet communication in the public sector and reorganize work processes towards paperless administration, making government more efficient.
A major next step was that from February 1, 2005 all government authorities had the right to send documents containing personal and sensitive information electronically and the right to demand that the same documents from other authorities be sent electronically using secure e-mail (digital signature).
From the same date citizens and business had the opportunity to communicate with the public sector using secure e-mail (digital signature).
This was made possible by providing citizen and businesses with tools and extensive instructive information to make the transition easier.
• Free digital signature to all Danish citizens.
• Legally binding signature for all interactions on the Internet.
• Authenticity – certainty of the identity of citizens, businesses and government authorities.
• Integrity – certainty that the contents of the message have not been changed.
• Privacy – no-one can listen in on the communication.
Obviously culture changes of this nature – well, indeed major behavioral modifications in how “white collar” work is performed – are not easy for people to make.
However the Danish government is pushing forward towards the goal of “full electronic communication by 2012”.
The Ministry of the Interior and Social Affairs as one of the leaders in this drive towards paperless public administration has piloted the “cBrain F2” case management system since June 2009 with success.
In the coming weeks I will be covering aspects of the cBrain F2 system and discuss some of the implications of this new integrated concept where social media tools are combined with case management, record management, archiving and more.
Further information in English about the Danish Governments drive towards paperless administration is available here:
• http://www.modernisering.dk/da/english — including a summary of the Danish Government’s plan for digital administration (e-Government Strategy) 2007 – 2010.
• http://www.virk.dk/English;jsessionid=ED260572073B396430E739F06924A5A2 – Central government to business portal for everything digital.
• http://english.ism.dk/Further-development/digitalisation/Sider/Start.aspx — The Ministry of the Interior and Social Affairs is one of the leading advocates for the move towards paperless administration by 2012.
Why is it that knowledge workers in government as well as private enterprises are fighting a culture of control driven by management focused on FRCP, Sarbanes-Oxley, eDiscovery and other regulatory compliance requirements?
The social media tools like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter are already being used by teams in many governmental agencies and private firms because they help knowledge workers “get the job done”.
However these tools are often a nightmare for the Chief Security Officer (if such a “C” level position exists). Regulatory compliance continues to be the main driver for security spending in most industry segments and a substantial financial burden for governmental agencies.
Sarbanes-Oxley for the USA came about after the Enron scandal and with the current financial meltdown for sure new regulations will emerge. Current US regulation is a patchwork of local, state and federal regulation.
The complexity of all the existing US regulations is such that it hinders small and medium sized businesses’ expansion into national or even multi-national market coverage even if that is exactly what the internet offers smaller businesses – the ability to source and operate like big multinational.
Most regulations deal with privacy and accountability. Sarbanes-Oxley for publicly traded firms is the big accountability regulation but smaller firms often trade with publicly traded companies and therefore indirectly will be required to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley.
Privacy is a hodgepodge of regional, national and industry segment specific laws. Obviously you cannot pretend these regulations don’t exist or hope they go away. Non-compliance may present a very real legal and financial risk to your organization.
Every bit of information exchange within the organization and with outside stakeholders must be auditable, i.e. there must be an audit trail and the kitchen sink approach to archiving of all information exchange and subsequent use of fancy search tools to retrieve information deemed to be material in a lawsuit will not work or at least be very, very expensive.
Often organizations are opting not to go to court and instead just settle because litigation is becoming too expensive. Settlements are still expensive.
In the USA the Better Business Bureau shows 34 federal privacy laws that apply to business – industry specific, consumer protection, etc. Add the EU, Canada and the Far East and you are looking at 100+ privacy laws that could affect a company doing business globally.
Social media tools as we know them today do not provide an audit trail of information exchange with an easy way to access it. If you are ever the subject of an eDiscovery audit from a lawsuit, you may need to produce reports on hundreds or thousands of document transactions and other information exchanges from social media tools like Facebook and Twitter.
Enterprise 2.0 tools emerging as “social media tools for the enterprise” are as far as I can see not addressing these issues.
For the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston this coming week – June 22-25, 2009 – I see very few, if any reference to the issue of regulatory compliance! I see no mentioning of FRCP, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, eDiscovery, etc. or discussion of audit trails and archiving of information exchanges or “record management” in the context of a business process.
These are issues we deal with when implementing process applications like our Knowledge Worker Desktop for government or private enterprises.
I will be at the conference next week trying to find out how all these powerful emerging enterprise 2.0 tools could provide synergy to our process applications.
I believe in the future we will see a movement toward self-supported definition and ownership of processes by business stakeholders and project teams. Simple interconnected utilities (enterprise 2.0+) rather than comprehensive suites (SharePoint, OpenText, etc…) will emerge.
This will help to improve the orchestration of teams, people, content and collaboration, BUT someone must be the driving process engine.
I look forward to the Enterprise 2.0 conference!
Just a few years ago when the term e-government was coined it covered the concept of making more information about government available to the citizens. Self-service portals and one-way information sites almost created a faceless interface between government and citizens, void of human interaction.
Government 2.0 changes all that. Now government employees become a valued asset and facilitator of communication between all stakeholders – citizens, politicians, grass-roots associations, business associations, lobbyists and finally within the governmental hierarchy.
In other words government employees will in the future be challenged to become true knowledge workers doing more non-trivial work and often in teams in order to serve the citizens. The most valuable skill set in the future isn’t necessarily knowledge, experience or training (although important attributes), but rather the degree to which the new knowledge worker looks for, expects and is prepared to deal with and successfully initiates actions to deal with the unexpected.
This has the potential of fostering a new trusted relationship between government and citizens that can be mutually beneficial but it could also become a serious challenge if the governmental employees are not provided the tools needed to deliver on the service levels citizens have been promised.
The European Commission is stating the following:
“While promoting the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in society as a whole through the i2010 strategy, the Commission intends to lead by example by applying to its own administration the European information society policy in e-government.
Modern on-line public administrations are an essential element of the information society and contribute to achieving the Lisbon goals of increased growth and competitiveness.
The e-Commission aims to deliver better quality and more transparent services, guaranteeing security of information including the protection of personal data, to the benefit of its own staff and of everyone having contact with it i.e. administrations, businesses and citizens. The Commission is thus following an ambitious strategy to become a front-runner in the domain of e-administration.”
In this blog we have previously covered some of the Obama Administration’s initiatives towards a more open and transparent government.
The latest initiative invites citizens to participate in improving the existing site where regulations are published – www.regulations.gov/exchange.
People are invited to give input to design and features from May 21, 2009 until July 21, 2009 and the response has been impressive so far.
I believe the human factor will become the single most important factor to deal with in this transformation of government. Expectations are certainly raised to what seems like almost unreasonable levels and one can certainly hope that the governmental employees are being empowered with the proper tools to deliver on the promise.
It would seem that the timing of releasing our “Knowledge Worker Desktop” product could not have been better. We will cover the “Knowledge Worker Desktop” in more details in future posting on this blog.
Government agility is one of the headlines that caught my attention concerning the government information forum to be held in Hong Kong on August 19-21, 2009.
It is a conference with an IT focus but many of the sections are very relevant for senior governmental executives wanting to get an understanding of new opportunities for improvements in how government and citizens interact.
Most of the speakers are from Asia – China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia among others.
Bill Schrier, the CTO from the City of Seattle is the only speaker not from the ASIA region. He is widely regarded as a thought leader in the use of social media and other tools to create a translucent government. His blog http://schrier.wordpress.com/ is worth a read.
I like his recent quote: “Making government “transparent” is in vogue in 2009, whether by doing map mashups of crimes or twittering by Mayors and public agencies. But I often wonder if we’re exposing the trees, without showing the forest or illuminating the true ecosystems of governing.” And he goes on ” So I’d say we’re starting to get adept at exposing the trees – or maybe the branches, twigs, leaves, owls, squirrels, nuts and bark of government operations. But what does all this data mean, and how can it influence government behavior, budgeting and public policy choices?”
Seattle is at the forefront of making the public aware of the goings-on in government and I assume that is why he was invited to speak.
Other topics covered at the Hong Kong conference – to name a few that caught my eye:
NOT AN OXYMORON: GOVERNMENT & BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE.
• Responsive, agile policy-making calls for real time insight into the operations of the government machine. In a data rich environment, public sector is well placed to see a quick return from tools that deliver actionable intelligence to government decision-makers.
VIP Address – TRANSFORMING GOVERNMENT OPERATION THROUGH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
• Exploring the networks and internet technologies for the delivery of government information, services and processes
• Using technology to provide user-centered information and services and achieve joint outcomes
BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT FOR OPERATIONAL BEST PRACTICE
Mapped and monitored processes drive effective BPM strategies, enabling public sector organizations to embrace operational best practice.
• Compliance & improvement initiatives driving public sector BPM
• More than workflow automation: process-centric government
• Process visibility enables process agility
So often at these events the focus is on technical stuff like portals and databases and not so much on better tools for the governmental knowledge worker. This conference seems different in the topics it covers.
Government transformation requires that citizens, politicians and senior governmental knowledge workers (or as Gartner calls them “Officer 2.0”) work towards a common goal.
It seems to me that too often the governmental employees’ pivotal role in this transformation is ignored and better tools are not addressed – it is refreshing to see a change of attitude coming from ASIA.
The Obama administration has embarked on several bold initiatives in how it interacts with the public.
Less than a week ago it launched data.gov described this way: “The purpose of www.data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable data sets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.
What seems unique to the approach is to ask the public to participate in the development of the site and engage in the evolution of the site – in other words launching a governmental site that will be very dynamic in nature and acknowledging that not all information is available from day one – see the tutorial here.
Terms such as “Government 2.0” and “Context-driven Governmental Services” has been introduced by the administration using layman’s term and with refreshingly straight forward guidelines and tutorials.
Another initiative is http://usaspending.gov (a re-launch of www.fedspending.org) which is described as allowing citizen to verify “when, with whom, and on what the US Government is spending taxpayer funds”. Data will be made available in such a way that users will be able to “combine them into different data sets, conduct analysis and research, or power new information-based products and businesses”.
The third one is www.recovery.gov, which applies the same principles as usaspending.gov to the tracking of funds coming from the Stimulus Package.
The White House document issued together with FY 2010 budget request says that “the Federal IT agenda is focused on helping agencies use developing technologies to inform the work of Government” and “Agencies will be called upon to take creative action in developing new approaches to citizen involvement, including the utilization of social and visual technologies, such as Web 2.0 tools”.
Very little information has been revealed about the tools available to the governmental white collar workers. They will need superior tools to help them live up to the public service expectations created.
We believe that our proven “Knowledge Worker Desktop” concept could be a big help in delivering that public service. We believe our concept can empower the governmental employees to be at the center of this government transformation and make them an active part of the innovation process needed.
Stay tuned for more information about this in future postings on this blog.
In my last post I mentioned that over the last four short months the Obama Administration has attracted a lot of attention through a number of WEB initiatives embracing “Government 2.0” as a concept for providing better two-way communication with the public. All this is explained by the Obama Administration in fairly easy to understand layman’s terms.
Europe’s initiatives are a bit more difficult to decipher and clearly written by bureaucrats with a mix of bureaucratic speak and IT speak.
Nevertheless it is worth a read and it will clearly affect e-government initiatives for all countries within the European Union. Below are selected excerpts from several sources.
The European initiatives seem to still be focused on coordinating standards between countries rather than any bold initiatives from the EU commission for a centralized approach for how to improve servicing the public and provide a two-way communication with the private sector and ordinary citizens.
Some European countries are certainly looking into how to optimize their IT infrastructure across agencies and departments. Denmark is often singled out by several analysts as having the boldest approach, driven by the Danish Ministry of Finance.
From 2005-2009 the European Commission have funded a program called IDABC.
IDABC stands for Interoperable Delivery of European eGovernment Services to public Administrations, Business and Citizens.
It was formed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by information and communication technologies:
- to encourage and support the delivery of cross-border public sector services to citizens and enterprises in Europe,
- to improve efficiency and collaboration between European public administrations and,
- to contribute to making Europe an attractive place to live, work and invest.
To achieve its objectives, IDABC issues recommendations, develops solutions and provides services that enable national and European administrations to communicate electronically while offering modern public services to businesses and citizens in Europe.
The program also provides financing to projects addressing European policy requirements, thus improving cooperation between administrations across Europe.
National public sector policy-makers are represented in the IDABC program’s management committee and in many expert groups. This makes the program a unique forum for the coordination of national e-government policies.
On 30 April 2009, the European Commission adopted the sixth revision of the IDABC Work Program. The IDABC work program is scheduled to come to an end on 31 December 2009.
As one of the outcomes of this effort the European Commission in Sept. 2008 published a Draft Document as the basis for the European Interoperability Framework Version 2. This document, which was debated extensively by EU member states, introduced a number of concepts that complement the interoperability framework, such as the interoperability strategy, the interoperability architectural guidelines and the European Infrastructure Interoperability Services (or EIIS).
On 29 September 2008, the European Commission approved a proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on a new program for the period 2010–15 “Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations”, to be known as ISA.
This program is the follow-on of IDABC which will come to an end on 31 December 2009.
The ISA program is focusing on back-office solutions supporting the interaction between European public administrations and the implementation of Community policies and activities.
The adopted text is available here in Part 2 from p.280 to 293.
The Council of Ministers is expected to vote on the compromise proposal in June 2009.
The Obama Administration has taken a number of initiatives to deliver on the campaign promise to bring more transparency and openness to government.
One of the latest initiatives receiving a lot of attention is described below. It encourages all stakeholders to participate in shaping the way government communicates about its work and outlines how the private sector and ordinary citizens can provide input to the process.
Below are excerpts from the Office of Science and Technology Policy filed 5/20/09 (FR Doc. 2009-12026):
The White House is looking for help formulating a directive on open government:
Executive Office of the President
Office of Science and Technology Policy
SUMMARY: The President’s January 21, 2009, memorandum entitled, Transparency and Open Government, directed the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the General Services Administration (GSA), to develop a set of recommendations that will inform an Open Government Directive. This directive will be issued by OMB and will instruct executive departments and agencies on specific actions to implement the principles set forth in the Presidents memorandum. Members of the public are invited to participate in the process of developing recommendations via email or the White House website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/open offering comments, ideas, and proposals about possible initiatives and about how to increase openness and transparency in government.
DATES: Comments must be received by June 19, 2009.
ADDRESSES: Submit comments by one of the following methods:
Mail: Office of Science and Technology Policy, Attn: Open Government
Recommendations, 725 17th Street, ATTN: Jim Wickliffe, Washington, DC 20502.
The President outlined three principles for promoting a transparent and open government:
- Transparency promotes accountability and provides information to citizens about what their Government is doing.
- Participation enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions by tapping knowledge that is widely dispersed in society.
- Collaboration harnesses innovative tools, methods, and systems to promote cooperation across all levels of Government and with the private sector.
The Presidential Memorandum requests recommendations to inform an OMB Directive that will instruct executive departments and agencies on specific actions to implement the three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration.
The purpose of this Federal Register notice is to solicit public participation in the development of those recommendations. There is a great deal of dispersed information among the nation’s citizens.
With twenty-first century tools, the United States is in a unique position to take advantage of that dispersed information to inform the policymaking process. Our goal is to use the principles of open government to obtain fresh ideas about open government itself.
Comments on open government may relate to government-wide or agency-specific policy, project ideas, and relevant examples. Comments may address law, policy, technology, culture, and practice on issues such as:
- What government information should be more readily available on-line or more easily searched?
- How might the operations of government be made more transparent and accountable?
- How might federal advisory committees, rulemaking, or electronic rulemaking be better used to improve decision making?
- What alternative models exist to improve the quality of decision making and increase opportunities for citizen participation?
- What are the limitations to transparency?
- What strategies might be employed to adopt greater use of Web 2.0 in agencies?
- What policy impediments to innovation in government currently exist?
- What changes in training or hiring of personnel would enhance innovation?
- What performance measures are necessary to determine the effectiveness of open government policies?
This public process is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
The full report can be found at http://www.federalregister.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2009-12026_PI.pdf
The FY 2010 budget request has in an accompanying document an entire section referring to “Government 2.0” – including transparency, participation and collaboration – see page 143 in this PDF version http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2010/assets/crosscutting.pdf .
This debate will intensify and cBrain will certainly follow this closely and provide input based upon the experiences we have had with our “Knowledge Worker Desktop” concept implemented within several governmental agencies.
How do governmental agencies help the public locate relevant information online and make more informed decision about services available AND at the same time navigate the fine line between privacy and serving the public efficiently?
Vivek Kundra, Obama’s new federal CIO, in April 2009 moderated a panel discussion where one of the questions Kundra asked was how governmental agencies are helping the public make more informed decisions about public services based on information available online.
According to nextgov.com Kundra used the analogy of a grocery store where studies of consumers’ buying patterns have shown that consumers buying milk most often also buy bread. Therefore store shelves are arranged so these items are placed closely together.
For the public sector, Kundra referred to this kind of process as “context-driven government” where how citizens search and retrieve information about public services could be monitored and analyzed to drive better policies and improve the way information is made available.
Providing public service to citizens, almost anticipating their wishes would seem to be a major improvement of the online experience – that is what Amazon is famous for. BUT will people be happy to know that their behavior is being monitored, analyzed and profiled by the government just like Amazon does for people’s buying habits?
I think we can find the balance between privacy, transparency and public service to the citizens and the term “context-driven government” just might catch on as an important concept that can reduce cost and provide better service to the non-trivial cases.
This concept of “context-driven government” will also apply to governmental white collar workers dealing with these non-trivial cases and free up the time and resources for them to concentrate on the non-trivial cases of citizen’s requests and complains.
Our “Knowledge Worker Desktop” concept is context-driven by the nature of the cases presented to the case worker.
This will be discussed and described in this blog over the next few months and it appears to be very much in line with Vivek Kundra’s thinking as we interpret his words.
We could be in for a new phase of governmental productivity improvements that will leapfrog what we have seen of incremental improvements over the last 10-15 years.