The implementation of the Czech central interoperability governance mechanism

Published on: 13/10/2021
Discussion

                                                  Description

What are the benefits of fostering interoperability within the country?

Public administrations in the Czech Republic follow a decentralisation policy scheme. Originally, the transfer of competences from state administration to self-government was aimed at improving the efficiency of service delivery, including those provided online. However, it appeared that the central government guarantees the provision of user-friendly, modern and secure digital services to citizens and businesses, as well as efficient and cost-effective execution of public administration tasks in various sectoral domains. Therefore, to solve key issues related to ICT in the public sector, the government decided to focus on the shift:

  • From uncoordinated government ICT governance towards a coordinated approach based on common architecture, rules and principles;
  • From outsourcing to external suppliers to developing internal capabilities for an effective management of ICT at the national level;
  • From specialised administrative “counters” to digital services accessible from the central government portal, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week; and
  • From isolated data sets to open data and interconnected public registers.

It was recognised that a prerequisite for ensuring better availability of digital public services is interoperability at all layers (i.e. legal, organisational, technical and semantic). Indeed, the promotion of interoperability has several benefits, such as the provision of cross-sectoral and cross-border services in a user-friendly manner and better sharing and reuse of public data.  

 

How is interoperability concretely fostered in the frame of this concrete example/good practice?

In recent years, the Czech government has implemented several initiatives contributing to the implementation of Principle 1 on subsidiarity and proportionality to strengthen its digital public services and strengthen interoperability of ICT systems and services in the public sector. Among these initiatives, it is worth highlighting the implementation of a secure national network and shared digital services, encompassing a central government portal, system of base registers, eID means, eDelivery and the network of assisted public administration offices. Additionally, the implementation of an appropriate legislative framework defining the rules of public data governance and the responsibilities of different public institutions has further supported the implementation of recommendations associated with Principle 1.

Another practice contributing to the country’s implementation of this Principle is the creation of a central governance body with legal mandate, named the Chief architect of eGovernment office. It is responsible for the approbation of digital governmental projects and ensuring their interoperability, by focusing on the use of shared government ICT services, reuse of solutions, as well as compliance with the national architecture plan[1], eGovernment principles and public services ICT strategy. This mandate includes the assessment of all governmental projects against national eGovernment principles that are derived from or aligned with the recommendations set out by the EIF.

In addition, sectoral digital strategies are in place and are coordinated under the Digital Czechia program[2]. Regional and local administrations can still provide their specific digital services and choose how they interact with their citizens.

A key aspect is that, to foster and promote interoperability, a comprehensive and well-balanced approach is needed. Also, as COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated, when a new digital interoperable service has to be provided fast, central leadership is important. 

What are the measures put in place to ensure compliance with the EIF?

A dedicated team at the Ministry of Interior ensured that the EIF principles, recommendations and high-level model of governance are reflected in the national interoperability framework, which has been developed gradually.

The Chief architect of eGovernment office has a mandate to assess all government projects against national eGovernment principles that are either derived from or well aligned with the EIF. A legal framework ensures the compliance with the most important principles and recommendations, while there is still room for improvement in the day-to-day public ICT governance.

What type of ISA² solutions or CEF building blocks have been reused or leveraged to implement this concrete example/good practice?

IMAPS[3] became a part of the assessment process carried out by the Chief architect of eGovernment office. 

What challenges emerged during the implementation of this concrete example/good practice? How did you overcome them?

The Czech Republic still faces some challenges in implementing the recommendations associated with Principle 1 of the EIF. First, the need to continuously ensure the compliance of the process of central approval of digital government projects with the “interoperability-by-design” approach. And second, the need to facilitate the ongoing communication between the sectoral ICT representatives at all levels.

To overcome these challenges, the publication of the national architecture plan, the National architecture framework, and of the knowledge base, as well as the provision of support for public ICT architects at all levels of public administration proved to be effective step towards greater interoperability.

Main takeaways

What are the success factors of this concrete example/good practice?

Key success factors identified by the Czech Republic in implementing the EIF are the following:

  • The implementation of legislative framework for the areas where interoperability is crucial;
  • The establishment of the dedicated body with legal mandate in order to safeguard interoperability; and
  • The continuity of the interoperability-focused approach in time. 

 

Key lessons learnt by the Czech Republic in implementing the EIF are:

  • The compliance with the interoperability framework has to be continuously re-established and re-inforced;
  • Cross-sectoral coordination is a key when providing user-friendly digital services involving more government institutions;
  • The interoperability framework should be clearly described, explained and promoted; and
  • The pandemic situation demonstrated the areas where interoperability is still lacking. 

How it supports the implementation of the EIF recommendation(s)?

The centrally provided support to interoperability of government ICT systems and services ensures the proper implementation of the conceptual model for integrated public service provision with a gradually applied whole-of-government approach to digitalisation. The legislative framework and the mandate delegated to the Chief architect of eGovernment office are initiatives that could not be implemented by individual government sectors or at the regional level of public administration. The re-use of shared digital services and infrastructures, as well as of the IMAPS tool developed by the European Commission, are mandatory parts of the central project’s approval process, supporting the implementation of the underlying principle 4 of the EIF: reusability.

 

Related solution(s)

 

What solutions are used and deployed in the concrete example/good practice? 

The dedicated website of the Chief architect of eGovernment could be seen as one of the solutions. It provides a platform for relevant documents and supports community building.

What are the relevant components of the solution(s) reused in this concrete example/good practice?

The shared services infrastructure represented by the system of central base registries and sectoral informational systems, eGovernment bus technology, centrally provided eID scheme, eDelivery solution and the federation of government portals are among the solutions that are instrumental for the implementation of the national interoperability policy in practice. 

 

Relevant related websites and documentation

For further information, you could consult:

The website of the Chief architect of eGovernment office: https://archi.gov.cz

 

[1] The national architecture plan is available at: https://archi.gov.cz/en:nap_dokument

[2] Information on this program is available at: https://www.mvcr.cz/clanek/rada-vlady-pro-informacni-spolecnost.aspx?q=Y2hudW09Ng%3d%3d

[3] IMAPS is available at: https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/collection/imaps-interoperability-maturity-assessment-public-service/solution/imaps/release/v120