eGovernment – from supertanker to speedboats

“Tallinn Declaration” supports the importance of modernizing the way governments interact with citizens.

On October 6, European government representatives responsible for eGovernment adopted a “Tallinn Declaration”, supporting the importance of modernizing the way governments interact with citizens and the need for digitisation across all policy sectors. On October 19th, European heads of state and prime ministers called specifically to implement the Declaration, sending a strong political signal about its importance.

CA Technologies strongly welcomes these signals and the Estonian EU presidency leadership. Great progress has been made in recent years, putting in place a framework with rules around digital identities, the eIDAS Regulation but also around data security and protection. However, a strong push was necessary to get a stronger focus on core principles around egovernment and a commitment to increase investments in Government IT systems.

5 principles for eGovernment, user centricity

The Tallinn declaration outlines 5 principles for eGovernment: 1) digital-by-default, inclusiveness and accessibility, 2) once only, 3) trustworthiness and security, 4) openness and transparency and 5) interoperability by default. Around each principle are a range of “lines of policy actions”.

In addition, the Declaration commit to designing and delivering their services, guided by the principles of user-centricity (such as digital interaction, reduction of the administrative burden, digital delivery of public services, citizens engagement, redress and complaint mechanisms).

These principles are applicable both in the private and public sector. But for governments to back these explicitly and especially recognizing the essential part of putting users at the centre, is a true revolution which we strongly welcome.

What’s next: Agility, APIs and Trust

To discuss the declaration and next steps, CA Technologies together with Euractiv, organized an eGovernment roundtable in Brussels on October 18th. Ian Clark, VP in CA Technologies EMEA operations, was joined by speakers from the Belgian government, European Commission and the Estonian Government CIO, Siim Sikkut.

All participants stressed that it is important to focus now on implementation, while recognizing that different countries will move at different speeds. Benchmarking as we move on the implementation road will be an important element.

Regarding technical implementation, Ian Clark pointed to the fact that “like the private sector, governments need to move from a supertanker ICT approach with big monolithic systems and approaches to an agile collection of speedboats”. He continued by highlighting that “in today’s application economy, development and operations need to be closely cooperating to increase speed and delivery of services to its citizens”.

One of the aspects that was also recognized in the Declaration is the potential role of APIs (Application Program Interfaces) to open up data, not only between government departments, but also externally. The current review of the Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive provides a concrete opportunity to look into this.

Finally, trust came up repeatedly in the discussion, with both data protection and security being crucial parts. Especially the fact that security should be an integral part of development processes instead of a bolted on process. Such a “Security by Design” process is something CA Technologies has been advocating for, as outlined in a previous blog.

There is still a long road ahead before eGovernment is running like agile speedboats. The Tallinn declaration is a great step in the right direction. The focus should be now on implementation.


Christoph Luykx
Christoph is the global Chief Privacy Strategist, responsible for CA’s views and global strategy on…


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