Joinup, the European Commission’s community of practice on government digitalisation, offers an important collection of best practices, tools and reusable ICT solutions, making it an essential instrument for joint efforts and successes by European Union Member States, says Peter Kustor, Head of Department for Digital and E-Government – Legal, Strategic and International Affairs at Austria’s Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs.
“Joinup helps eGovernment services to gradually become modular,” Mr Kustor says. The portal steers Member States towards using transactional services based on dynamic, reusable components, and this will help them create new amenities for citizens, companies and public services.
The head of Austria’s eGovernment unit is one of the key government officials actively involved in the European Commission’s ISA² Programme (2016 – 2020). Mr Kustor worked with the three predecessor programmes: ISA (2010–2015), IDABC (2005–2009) and IDA (2000–2004). He is also involved in setting out its future replacement: “I am privileged to be chairing the Council Working Group on Telecoms and Information Society under the Austrian Presidency for the new ‘Digital Europe Programme’, the successor for ISA².”
Under the Austrian EU Council Presidency the Joinup portal will begin a new collection to monitor Member States’ progress on implementing the 2017 Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment – also known as the Tallinn declaration. To help take stock, Austria will host a high-level conference on 26 September. “With the Joinup portal, the Commission contributes to transparent and efficient monitoring of Member States’ implementation status and best practice measures,” Mr Kustor says.
The Tallinn declaration is one outcome of the European eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020. The insight of the action plan – itself part of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy – is that eGovernment services should be open, efficient and inclusive. The vision is to provide border-less, personalised, user-friendly, end-to-end digital public services to all citizens and businesses in the EU.
In the Tallinn declaration, the EU Member States and EFTA countries agreed on six policy action lines that are based on the action plan:
- Inclusiveness and accessibility;
- Once only;
- Trustworthiness and Security;
- Openness and Transparency;
- Interoperability by default; and
- Horizontal enabling policy steps.
“These are challenging goals,” Mr Kustor says, “and the Member States are currently working intensively on their implementation.”
He expects Joinup to become a valuable source of information, building a sustainable collection of implementation activities in the Member States: “I invite all Member States’ representatives to make use of the portal and to contribute to the collection.” This will be more than a one-time exercise, he adds. The Joinup collection will help Member States stay up to date, allowing them to track developments and challenges posed by smart technologies such as the Internet of Things, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. “The Austrian Council Presidency has a clear priority on digital, and we will invest remarkable energy in contributing to European efforts.”
eGovernment: improving quality and effiency of public services
eGovernment is much more than simply applying ICT in the public sector, says Peter Kustor, Head of Department for Digital and E-Government – Legal, Strategic and International Affairs at Austria’s Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs. “It is the instrument for improving the quality and efficiency of public administration, creating benefits for citizens and businesses, lowering costs while speeding up processes and improving their quality.”
According to the head of Austria’s eGovernment unit, eGovernment leverages transparency of state activities and makes a considerable contribution to democratic participation: “It has become mainstream in the last years already, but it must go beyond transforming paper into digital procedures. As mobility is an ever-increasing demand and today much more the rule than the exception, our aim should be mGovernment, rather than eGovernment.”
“We are not living on isolated islands; cross-sector and cross-border service delivery are crucial in an always-connected world. Interoperability is key, as this is the driver for best services delivery that can cope with the challenges of modern businesses and society. Enablers such as electronic identification and trust services show the potential for eGovernment innovation. Here is a clear role for businesses and the private sector, to build solutions that help achieve our goal – to minimise the frequency with which citizens have to interact with administration.”