OECD Highlights Enterprise Architecture Program in Denmark

One of the great benefits of my long summer vacations from the Danish Ministry of Finance is that I have had more time for reading the stuff than my normal schedule would allow.  I try to stay on top of the latest eGov and EA research and news throughout the year.  But, a great book or report in between playing with my kids, painting the windows on our Winchester house, or swimming just beats the traditional desk studying.

Last week, when we were vacationing on the beautiful west coast of Denmark, I got to read the full OECD e-government country study of Denmark (Efficient e-Government for Smarter Public Service Delivery).  Based on a rather comprehensive study of e-government in Denmark, the OECD has addressed some of Denmark’s e-government challenges and the report recommends that we consider the following four areas of focus in our upcoming e-government strategy:

1) Broadening the vision of the public sector
2) Reinforcing the organisation of the public sector
3) Enhancing capacities within the public sector
4) Strengthening citizens and businesses’ engagement

Other bloggers have commented on the report (see e.g. Breinstrup, EA Fellows, and Duus).  I think the report provides an excellent overview of e-government in Denmark – and it definitely highlights some of the issues that we need to consider going forward. 

Reference Models for Efficient and Smarter Service Delivery 
From an architectural perspective OECD’s focus on Denmark’s enterprise architecture program is interesting.  OECD especially emphasises our work with the public reference models, FORM and STORM:

“As part of the e-government strategy a central initiative on enterprise architecture FORM (the Danish acronym for Joint Cross Governmental Business Reference Model) has been launched which led to outlining all the services the public sector delivers to respectively citizens and business. The second important Enterprise Architecture (EA) effort is the adoption of the US Service Reference Model and Technology Reference Model (www.egov.gov) in the Danish Service- and Technology Reference Model (also called STORM) published in January 2009. Together with FORM this model provides a common technical vocabulary for agencies involved in the delivery of cross-agency services. The Shared Service Centre for IT (Statens IT – or SIT) relies heavily on the model and a range of municipalities are now adopting the model. The model is worth mentioning parallel to FORM as part of the overall EA-program. FORM was the first reference model developed in 2007 and is the most widely used today. But, STORM is just as important for the identification of duplicate, re-usable and sharable IT-services, the objective review of IT investments – and the general alignment between business and IT.”

The reference models provide the structural foundation to leverage the great cross-governmental collaboration and co-ordination structure that is so unique in the Danish public sector through the establishment of a neutral language shared across all government levels.  A strong and coherent overview of services to citizens and the IT-infrastructure is essential, if we are to move e-government forward.  OECD also highlights this potential in the report:

“The view of various stakeholders is that FORM, has been developed as a tool to classify all public tasks and services: it should be used by all government agencies as the common framework for the development of specialised taxonomies and terminologies. As FORM is mapped to legislation and responsible organisations it can become a powerful tool in defining the relevant subjects and actors that should be part of such work in specific areas.”

OECD applauds Denmark’s all of government enterprise focus and stresses the importance of exploiting the reference models’ capabilities to enable citizens to better access services, align strategic goals, and enhance the flow of information within and across levels of government.  OECD also connects the reference models to the Web 2.0 agenda and calls for a broader adoption of the models:

“The business reference model FORM is another example of co-operation and could also be seen as a strategic tool in a context where options based on enhanced sharing and collaboration increasingly become more relevant, e.g. cloud-computing and the use of Web 2.0 solutions. From a Web 2.0 perspective FORM exemplifies the Danish government‘s efforts to support open government data‘. FORM provides a common structure (metadata) for data and content on various websites. The list of FORM users is already quite long, but given the nature of the tool as a reference model its use becomes interesting if adopted by a large number of users.”

From my perspective Denmark and other OECD countries must focus on coherent and effective collaboration when they build their digital platforms for the future.  Connecting the dots efficiently in government requires a coherent approach to e-government with strong IT-governance.  Denmark is in a very privileged e-government position.  We currently hold leading positions in all international e-government rankings and with our strong cross-governmental collaboration culture, world-class broadband connection, and essential shared infrastructure components like our digital signature and citizen portal, we are now in a position to set new standards for the digital government of the future.  Stay tuned!

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3 Responses to OECD Highlights Enterprise Architecture Program in Denmark

  1. Stephan Engberg says:

    When reading an article like this, one thought springs to mind – Potemkim Village – the art of creating illusions over nothing.

    Fact is that the present digitalisation of Denmark is a disaster in progress – a monolit stalemated, unable to change, unable to adabt to needs, locked in multiple single-points-of-failure, commercial monopolies/kartels, bottlenecks and stiffled in unflexible interfaces.

    Danish eGovernment Architecure fails on its assumotions – one after another. Worst is the assumption that Centralsiation makes efficient economic systems. Second is the inherent lack of flexibility in all central nodes, interfaces and infrastructure elements. Third is the fundamental disrespect of citizens ability to chose for themselves for the bettering of economic proceses – or rather – for the maximisation of utility of ressources spent.

    Danish eGovernment is characterised by an inherent lack of business case structures – there is no real utlity value to justify investments or divestment. The consequence the usual in the public sector, that projects are started based on unsubstantiated claims that rarely deliver and often do serious damages rather than providing benefits due to massive negative externalities. Choicemaking moves away from by those that could have made the chocies improving processes.

    It can be said very simple – Danish eGovernment is caught in an outdated paradigm, locked in idelogical construct of the pre-internet age forced upon structure that could be so much more flexible, that could ensure the increasingly ineffecientiy publis systems could slowly begin to adabt to the actual needs of danish citiziens instead of merely enforcing the views of bureaucrats and primitive compromises without linkage to the reality of society.

    What is happening in Denmark is very simple – the enourmous investments in Digitalisation of public services is vasted by an implementing yesterdays thinking turning into the exponetial inefficiency creating legacy of tomorrow.

    And the bureaucrats are claim fame for themselves while presenting their Potemkim Project.

    Sorry, the Emporer new clothes.are made from the same as the H.C. Anderson fairy tale.

  2. Kristian says:

    Thank you for the note, Stephan. As a general rule, I do not comment on the strategic direction of eGov i Denmark here. This is my personal blog, the content is my own and does not necessarily represent my employer’s positions, strategies or opinions. Cheers, Kristian

  3. Pingback: Architecting for Better Government - Kristian Hjort-Madsen

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