In the first half of 2019, Spain’s Technology Transfer Centre (CTT) federated its repository of ICT solutions with the Joinup platform. Spain is now the first country whose solutions, 249 in total, can be found through Joinup and reused by users from across Europe and beyond. A similar federation is also planned with Slovenia.
In this interview, Elena Muñoz from the Spanish Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Function explains the process of the federation and why she would recommend it to other countries.
Elena Muñoz graduated in telecommunications engineering and joined Spain’s General State Administration as a civil servant in 2003. Now she is Head of Telematics Systems Area within the General Secretariat of Digital Administration at the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Function.
Since 2007, among other activities, Elena Muñoz has worked in the field of reuse of applications and services provided by public administrations. She leads the initiative of the Technology Transfer Centre of the Spanish Government.
What is the CTT and the role it plays in digitalisation of public administrations in Spain?
The CTT publishes a repository of reusable ICT solutions developed by Spanish public administrations at local, regional and national level. It also allows collaborative development of information technology software for e-Government in the CTT-Forge, now integrated in GitHub.
The CTT origin dates back to 2007, as the answer to the legal mandate established by Article 46 of the 11/2007 Law for Citizens Electronic Access to Public Services. It was clear already at that time that having electronic public services at all administration levels would be possible and efficient only if public administrations could share their progress. The reuse requirements were extended in our National Interoperability Framework.
In 2016, new requirements for reuse entered into force by articles 157 and 158 of the new law 40/2015 of legal regime of public sector. This is the basic law for all the Spanish public sector which defines how public administrations should work. As you can see, ICT sharing and reuse is a fundamental concept in Spain.
Why did you decide to federate CTT solutions with Joinup?
When we considered the concept of reuse in Spain, we always kept in mind that reuse should also happen across our borders. Public administrations have to solve similar situations all around the world.
Also, the federation with Joinup was the best way to increase visibility of our national solutions. Moreover, a federation is a compulsory concept in the Spanish National Interoperability Framework. We already had an internal federation between repositories in Spanish public administrations (regional-national), and it is coherent to align also with the EU repository on Joinup.
Can you describe the process of the federation?
As Spain was the first country federating its repository with Joinup, it was a long process where both sides, the European Commission and the Spanish government, had to cooperate well.
The main steps included:
- Selection of solutions we were going to federate and data describing them. We had to keep in mind the different scopes for each repository, and we had to establish a flexible process that could guarantee the quality of the information;
- Match vocabularies with ADMS-AP v2. Once the main conceptual decisions regarding solutions and data were agreed on, we had to proceed with the practical decisions considering ADMS: data fields, data descriptions, match vocabularies, etc.;
- Implementation of ADMS-AP v2. Both sides had to implement the software: the European Commission – the importer – and Spain the exporter. Every country will probably have to implement their own exporter;
- Testing with intensive collaboration of all technical teams.
What has changed from the user’s perspective after the federation?
In case of the CTT, there is a renewed interest in including solutions in the CTT since through Joinup they will have visibility also in Europe. Only one place for updating information and two repositories showcasing the solution.
What are the benefits of the federation for the CTT, Joinup and for others?
First of all, federating between repositories increases the visibility for the national and international solutions. Moreover, open source communities can have easier access to reusable solutions.
This necessarily fosters reusability across borders. If you have more users, you will have more communities which boost collaboration and more possible exchanges and synergies.
Would you recommend such federation to other countries/organisations?
Of course, all of us are working in a small part of the world and we need as much collaboration as possible. Reusability is the only way to make digital transformation possible worldwide, considering economic and environmental impacts.
What are the next steps for your repository on Joinup? How will you keep the federated repository up-to-date?
The next step can be of having the federation working in both ways. That is to say, the CTT showcasing solutions stored on Joinup. However, this is a new thing that will need additional development and consideration.
Meanwhile, the CTT will publish everyday updated versions of the ADMS-AP v2 export file, in case any information is needed to import in a hurry. In any case, all the information will be automatically updated on Joinup once a quarter.
Why should public administrations share IT solutions they developed?
Public administrations are developing IT solutions using public money provided by every citizen and company through their taxes. The optimised use of this money is a must and, moreover, why not share our results with the society that helps develop it? The Free Software Foundation’s recent campaign of “public money, public code” should be the general approach, when possible, of course.
What do you see as the main obstacle to sharing and reuse?
The main obstacle for reusability is that you must have in mind the possible reusability of the solution from the initial stage, even during the public procurement phase. The process for making an application already developed reusable is a long one – you need to consider the review of already reused products and licences, the generation of specific documentation, the interdependence with internal tools and systems, etc. In many cases, the conclusion is that the application is not reusable. The bigger the application or system, the lower the probabilities to make it reusable.
On the other hand, we have always thought that “sharing and reuse” is a broader concept than “open source software”. For us, this concept has also been linked to the reuse of services, nowadays called “cloud services”. These are much more reusable, especially for small public entities.
Discover the CTT collection on Joinup with 249 solutions for reuse!