Open standards for government transformation: Panel 3

Notes from the OASIS/World Bank workshop on “Open Standards for Government Transformation: Enabling Transparency, Security and Interoperability” in Washington.


Panel Three: Interoperability Frameworks

Chair: Bill Piatt, CIO, International Finance Corporation, The World Bank Group

Interoperability frameworks – the holy grail of IT

Some years ago – how to make all the information from all the agencies and projects visible – not to talk about interoperable?

All agencies of the Wold Bank handle similar but yet different info in similar but yet different ways

We try to actually make it = interoperability happen


Power and Institutional Values: Interoperability as Politics

Speaker: Peter Lord, Director, Technology Policy, Oracle Corporation

Old model: information is power

  • Interoperability can’t be “touched”, that’s why it’s not that desired – but still it’s important

New model: Interoperability is power

  • Information alone is underleveraged
  • It’s not about new information, it’s about being able to go on using old information
  • It’s about enlarging the life of your investment
  • New tools for analysis

Information is an asset, ICT systems are a commodity

Talking about interoperability frameworks = talking about control over assets in your IT environment

Real world: power of institutions

Legislation doesn’t like people taking control away from them

Old model: function follows form, new model: form follows function

Interoperability is not integration, it’s also not an end-state

Interoperability requires open standards

Interoperability models & frameworks already exist, it’s not necessary to reinvent them

It’s vital to involve various stakeholders from different areas

Whatever the trend of the moment is, an interoperability framework should be able to depict it


  • IT projects mostly fail not because of technology, but because of process reasons
  • We need to build communities that have clear objectives and support
  • You can start to gain advantages from interoperability frameworks at whatever stage of development your country is


Interoperability and Cloud Computing

Speaker: Daniel Burton, Senior Vice President,

100% computing center, providing computer power in the cloud

There’s a lot of standards

Wouldn’t it be great to run your operations on the internet and let someone else care for the standards?

Using all the services in the internet is possible without purchasing software or undergoing a training

Question: consumer platforms (Amazon, eBay, …) are intuitive, fast, … – why can’t business organizations have similar services?

Nowadays: applications and platforms are moving to the cloud – no software needed anymore

It’s not just consumers – industry, governments are also moving to the cloud

Characteristics of the cloud:

  • Multi-tenant
  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Elastic
  • No Capital Expense
  • Modest Operating Expense
  • Scales With Your Business

Client-server: complex infrastructure vs. cloud computing: no infrastructure

If you don’t have broadband access – cloud computing is not going to work for you

Security: “my data is somewhere else, how can I know it’s not being shared or hacked?”

  • Only information with own tags is shown
  • real time security

Reliability: very high

Transparent system status

Real-time integration of various applications

Salesforce offers an open API for interoperability


Interoperability, Web and Mobile Applications: Opening the Door to Access and Sharing

Speaker: Kevin Novak, Vice President, Integrated Web Strategy and Technology, The American Institute of Architects (representing W3C)

Electronic Government work: started in 2008 – 30 different governments as members

Charta of the groups focuses on 3 areas:

  • uses of web standards
  • Transparency and Participation
  • Seamless Integration of Data

So far

  • A lot of collaboration with partners
  • Dealing with existing standards
  • Identifying gaps in these standards
  • Use cases

What is Interoperability in Government?

  • ability of organizations, individuals, and agencies to share and exchange information via electronic means
  • ability for agencies, different levels of government to share and exchange information with other organizations and individuals


  • Proprietary systems
  • no understanding for audiences & uses
  • open standards

How Can Interoperability be Achieved?

  • develop common standards & frameworks

Issues & limitations

  • Privacy, security, legal aspects
  • open standards, open source, openness & transparency
  • semantics, culture

Benefits of interoperability:

  • easier for the citizen
  • few documentation
  • fast communication
  • automation

Next steps for the W3C Electronic Government Group:

  • continue working with standard bodies
  • maturing and developing issues
  • validate existing use cases & develop new ones
  • listen to the community

Q & A:

Q: In the past information was power – but today information is still power – but we’re trying to figure out how to get to it.

Q: Isn’t interoperability also exposing yourself to a security risk?

A: Each company has to make the decision themselves which information to put where.

A: Often solutions which are easily technologically feasible require months of negotiations with privacy concerns.

Q: What is the recomendation for governments: build their own cloud or stick to salesforce or google

Q: Do you have applications for hosting data for your customers?

A: Yes, the applications are already in the cloud.

A: You can also outsource your application to a cloud hosting service.

Q: What about jurisdiction in cloud computing? What if information is split over different nations?

Q: What is the recomendation for governments: build their own cloud or stick to salesforce or google?

A: We should start experimenting with cloud computing. Especially the governments should look at clouds.

A: To experiment it’s a good idea to start with something low risk.

A: One of the issues of developing countries as well is that internal development capacity is lost when the applications are outsourced. Salesforce & co can help you set up your own cloud and consult you. It’s an important questions how to transfer the knowledge to the own countries.

A: There needs to be more investment to bring ICTs to more countries of the world. It is absolutely critical to provide the “last mile” of internet access.

Bill Piatt: Everybody – in his personal as well as professional world – should think of how to use existing standards and how to build new standards.

At the end of the day our data plugs and plays same as our networks plug and play.

If we can make eletricity work around the world, we can also make all the applications interoperable

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Open standards for government transformation: Panel 3
was published on 17.04.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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