EU to expand e-gov by 2010

The EU Commission’s Action Plan

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The European Union has set 2010 as the target year for an expansion of e-government systems and services that it expects will save billions of euros each year and dramatically improve the level of government services provided to its 25 member states.

An action plan recently published by the European Commission states that modernizing government services is the ultimate goal, but information and communication technologies are the key to achieving it.

E-government initiatives have already resulted in a significant savings of time and money in some member states, the commission said, but much more can be accomplished. If all member states adopt electronic invoicing and procurement, for example, the commission believes that could save as much as 300 billion euros a year.

The commission’s action plan lays out five objectives:

  • Raise efficiency by using a benchmark framework to measure the gains in productivity and reductions in the administrative burden.
  • Implement online procurement across the EU, with the goal of 100 percent availability and 50 percent adoption by 2010.
  • Provide secure access to services across member states by deploying an EU-wide ID management system.
  • Use information and communication technologies for more effective public participation in policy-making to meet an increasing public demand for greater involvement in government.
  • Ensure that all everyone has access to a wide range of technologies such as digital TVs, PCs and mobile phones.
Much of the groundwork for the initiative is expected to be in place in the next couple of years.

By 2008, for example, the commission’s plan calls for publishing specifications for multiplatform delivery strategies that will allow online access to government services through a range of channels, such as digital TV, mobile and landline phones, and other interactive devices.

Also by 2008, the commission and member states will start exploring mechanisms that will ensure long-term financial and operational stability for maintaining those services and the infrastructures that carry them.

By 2007, the commission wants to see accelerated development of specifications for the elements needed for cross-border public e-procurement and the launch of various implementation pilot tests.

For all of this to happen, the commission said key enablers will have to be in place, particularly an interoperable ID management system that will work in all the member states. Agreed methods of e-document authentication and e-archiving are also needed.

The commission’s plan calls for common specifications for the ID system to be agreed upon in 2007 and for large-scale cross-border pilot projects to be in place the following year.

Systems and infrastructures must be interoperable for all of this to happen, the commission said, so it’s now focused on pushing for the adoption of an updated European Interoperability Framework.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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