RE: Group Note FPWD is done


This is my first post to the list.  I have been reading your posts with
interest.  Thanks to everyone for their work.


While Trond makes a number of excellent points, I would like to add to
one of the points that he makes:



a. you answer the question: "how can interoperability be achieved"
without clearly stating that the best way to achieve interoperability is
through standardization.



In my experience, "interoperability" and "standardization" are not
synonymous.  While it is true that standardization can help to achieve
interoperability, it is equally true that poor or complex standards can
be barriers to interoperability.  


Government employees often rely on standards groups or other government
agencies to bless standards, without having a deep knowledge of the
adopted standards or associated technologies.  This makes government
procurement easier (and, of course, you cannot get fired for adopting
the "industry standard").  


The problem is that if/when poor or complex standards are adopted by
government, the effect is the opposite of high-level goals.  That is,
instead of easier and cheaper access to government information,
government information becomes more expensive and more difficult to


Sadly, there are people both in the public and private sector that
benefit from expensive, more difficult-to-access government information.
Hence, in my view, the interoperability problem is not equivalent to ,
or as simple as, "standardization."  If you lead government to believe
that access to information is solved by standardization, you may find
you that you do not get what you are after.





Winchel "Todd" Vincent III


[] On Behalf Of Trond Arne Undheim
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 9:07 AM
To: Jose M. Alonso
Cc: eGov IG
Subject: Re: Group Note FPWD is done


Dear Jose et. al, 

Congratulations on a strong document that clarifies many important

I have a few suggestions; 
1) In the Background section, you say: "Governments are increasingly
finding value in Web standards created at W3C, these standards currently
enjoy broad use in eGovernment and some have been named in laws and put
into practice in a variety of countries."
while this is true, it remains the case that in Europe, one cannot
readily reference fora/consortia standards and specifications neither in
policy nor in legislation because of the EU legislative framework,
specifically Directive 98/34 and CD 87/95.

I feel our report should reflect that this while a unified IT industry
has wanted a reform for several years now, and the fact that such a
reform was hinted at in an informal Way Forward document by the European
Commission last year, nothing has happened yet, and the reform must wait
until the next Commission. 

Meanwhile, it remains true, as our report says, that web standards are
used and to some extent referenced in government documents. This shows
the enormous importance of such standards. 

2) In
you say: "can it be improved by technologies...". Well, the improvement
would only happen if these were open standards development efforts
happening in transparent fora/consortia and/or standards organizations.
Why do you call OpenID a "technology"? This is confusing. 

3) In 
a. you answer the question: "how can interoperability be achieved"
without clearly stating that the best way to achieve interoperability is
through standardization. 
b. you mention GIFs, and could also mention the large UN work on the
c. You might consider refering to CAMSS which is the emerging approach
to the issue in Europe, i.e, a set of principles regarding standards
that in effect constitute an assessment methodology. You might say, it
is the logical next step from a GIF which is simply a passive document
that needs constant updating. see my blog entry on CAMSS
fications_for_europe.html> for more details.
d. About Open Standards, you say "It is of paramount importance to use
open standards where available - for instance, use the X.509 technology
stack when digital certificates are required.". I would suggest to refer
to something more generic than a standard few government officials might
have heard of. A good summary of the characteristics of open standards
was given by 
The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School's
Roadmap for Open Ecosystems, which included government experts, came up
with the following1
ch%3EUID%3E/Sent%3E1777#sdfootnote1sym> : 

"This ROADMAP considers a standard to be open when it complies with all
these elements:

* Cannot be controlled by any single person or entity with any vested

* Evolution and management in a transparent process open to all
interested parties;

* Platform independent, vendor neutral and usable for multiple

* Openly published (including availability of specifications and
supporting material);

* Available royalty free or at minimal cost, with other restrictions
(such as field of use and defensive suspension) offered on reasonable
and non-discriminatory terms; and

* Approved through due process by rough consensus among participants."

ch%3EUID%3E/Sent%3E1777#sdfootnote1anc> Roadmap for Open Ecosystems,

In addition, it is essential that open standards be compatible with a
variety of licensing and development models, including open source.

I also attach the two recent policy briefs from the Openforum Europe
Standards Special Interest Group (they can also be found on the web at

e. You say "What Are the Main Issues and Limitations?". I would suggest
to take out the word "limitations". Indeed open standards are enablers.
Indeed, what you are talking about is components of interoperability. 

*	I would suggest to add an executive summary written for
journalists, C-level executives in public and private sectors, and
non-experts. It would greatly enhance the impact of the document and
help all who want to quickly paraphrase its content. 
*	I think we have some work to do regarding abbreviations. API,
PSI etc. needs to be esplained the first time and the abbreviation put
in parenthesis. Sometimes that is not enough either, and the full term
is better used throughout to avoid confusion.
*	The way you use links is not conducive to easy comprehension.
Why are they doubled up?
*	I feel the abstract is quite weak. If we cannot deliver stronger
conclusions, we should re-work the document and re-think. 
*	Could we include a few more examples? I would suggest at least
pointing to a few governments who are doing certain aspects quite well,
such as the Dutch government on open standards, link to a few GIFs, etc.

Finally, I agree that the spelling should be "e-government", not "eGov"
or "eGovernment". 


Trond Arne Undheim | Director Standards Strategy and Policy EMEA
Phone: +44.207.816.7952 | Mobile: +44.782.730.8841 
Oracle Corporate Architecture Group
One South Place | London | EC2M 2RB | United Kingdom

ORACLE Corporation UK Ltd is a company incorporated in England & Wales |
Company Reg. No. 1782505 | Reg. office: Oracle Parkway, Thames Valley
Park, Reading RG6 1RA 

Jose M. Alonso wrote: 


It has been a very intense weekend. Some of us, namely Kevin, John and
me have been working until the very last minute on developing the final
draft. We have worked on the document until yesterday night, then called
it done. 

Final document is a snapshot of the current Editor's Draft [1] and we
are requesting publication on March 10; comments will be welcomed until
April 26. 

Thanks John, Oscar, Daniel and Owen for providing content for the
document. Very special thanks to Kevin for bearing with me over the last
couple days and a great editorial work. 

I think the document is quite solid but no doubt that with the help of
others it could be greatly improved, so do not hesitate to send comments
or offering authoring help. 



Jose M. Alonso <> <>     W3C/CTIC 
eGovernment Lead         

Received on Friday, 6 March 2009 22:34:22 UTC