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eGovernment in the Age of Blockchain

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04.10.2021
eGovernment in the Age of Blockchain

This article seeks to describe some general problems, limitations, shortcomings and requirements for eGovernment solutions where blockchain can contribute to an improvement. Because we couldn't find an official comprehensive and unambiguous list of such problems, limitations and shortcomings, we have tried to gather from a variety of sources and also use the knowledge gained from stakeholder meetings.

It is possible to identify the following shortcomings of the e-Government from the so-called OPIS period of building e-Government in the years 2010 to 2015, in particular in the following areas:

·         insufficient emphasis on systematic and holistic program management,

·         not always optimal coordination and prioritization of decisions caused by unavailability of authentic and relevant data to support this decision - making (also the volatility of key baseline data, e.g. repeated unsuccessful efforts to stabilize the so-called code list of living situations as a basic indicator of demand for eGovernment services),

·         problematic management when building the eGovernment projects by traditional methods,

·         shortcomings in the management of very complex projects and chains of suppliers of project outputs (the supply chain of project outputs typically represents for the public administration side: managing authority, intermediate body and beneficiary and for the business sphere other than the main one often a very complicated network of many specialized subcontractor companies),

·         many partial project products, many interdependent situations,

·         great difficulty in identifying the chain of causes and consequences in the propagation of a project incident and turning into a problem and clearly assign responsibilities, draw conclusions and seek redress and fix the issue,

·         examples of such complex projects (crucial while building eGovernment center), which have not yet been satisfactorily completed and suffer from many problems, and complications are, for example, the Electronic Real Estate Cadaster (ESKN) project, the Electronic health services (eHealth) or projects of implementation of several basic components of eGovernment and special common modules of UPVS (according to the original NKIVS from 2008),

·         complications associated with integrating and ensuring the interoperability of individual solutions eGovernment - typically agenda systems of individual public administration institutions,

·         public distrust caused by lack of transparency in building eGovernment processes (from public procurement of the main contractor through project implementation) but also electrified processes in already modernized eGovernment agenda systems (ability in one place comprehensively verify the process of equipping "your" agenda, etc.)

Some other general requirements that may be addressed by the introduction of blockchain technology, summarizes the table below, high potential means that blockchain can better address this requirement compare to other technologies, medium means that blockchain can help on the same level, in a comparable way and low means that blockchain has minimal benefit.


A request

Description

Potential

benefit

blockchain

Security

the ability to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of processes and their data

high

Auditability

the ability to additionally reconstruct the course of the process (who, what, when)

high

Transparency

the ability to additionally demonstrate that the process has been carried out in accordance with the rules and requirements

high

Integration

of electronic interconnection systems to the surrounding eGovernment as well as internally between systems of the department

high

Analyzability

availability of relevant data and their processing to enable an informed decision-making

medium

Modernization

of slimming down, a type of an improvement of the existing process design - omission, replacement, merging of processes, activities, actors, etc.

medium

Functioning

allowing to perform a certain duty (removal of impracticability)

medium

Centralization

cost reduction by introducing joint operations, support, methodology and precondition for the elimination of the principle of local jurisdiction (also related to unification, transparency and security)

medium

Electronization

electronic replacement of "paper" data (public documents, applications, decisions, etc.) electronic

medium

Automation

automate acceleration, increase the reliability and quality (error rate) of processes by removing manual steps (processing, decision making)

medium

Unification

unification ensures the consolidation of procedures performed by different instances of the same type of actor

low

Proactivity

proactivity automatic preventive initiation of communication between the process and the actor -

human (e.g. various notifications)

low

Requirements for eGovernment solutions


Although there are several strategic documents, action plans, projects, as well continuing effort to make progress in the field of informatization in public administration, the Slovak Republic is in comparison with other EU countries still behind or on the back rungs. However, it should be noted here that in recent years the Slovak Republic has taken several relevant measures that intended eGovernment to move forward. New technologies such as blockchain offer solutions that could streamline the field of informatization in public administration. When studying the documents mentioned above, we see a significant intersection between those presented priorities and requirements and basic features of the blockchain explained in this article.

Blockchain also has the potential to become middleware when interconnecting various information systems within eGovernment. After registering for the joint middleware that uses blockchain technology, individual ISVSs can send messages to each other in a very safe way. The blockchain technology itself will not solve the problem of ISVS interconnection but can be a significant contribution to its solution.

Blockchain also has great potential to become a prevention tool to various types of fraud potentially carried out in public administration processes as well.

Blockchain can also be a source of reliable and consistent data for further processing, interpretation and use in machine learning and big data analysis. Given the current state of informatization in Slovakia, however, it is necessary to be very sensitive to introduce new solutions with an emphasis on the cost of investment and streamlining the services offered.

Some additional requirements for eGovernment solutions and the contribution of specific blockchain technology features are listed in the following matrix:

Some eGovernment requirements (below)

and the blockchain features (right) that

address it

Transparency and traceability

Possibility of public control

Data integrity

Cost reduction

and complexity

Permanent and immutable

digital recording

Redundancy of stored data

Building trust

Ability to connect different

information systems

Smart contracts

Once and enough




x




x


Availability extension


x

x



x


x


Credibility increase

x

x



x


x


x

Extension of informatization to other areas




x

x



x


Cost reduction




x





x

Increasing efficiency and effectiveness




x

x



x

x

Data availability






x

x



Fraud prevention

x

x



x


x


x

Better integration of systems



x





x


Better auditability of projects

x









Some eGovernment requirements and blockchain features

General recommendations and estimated time frame for implementation

We recommend for each of the cases of using blockchain technology (application) mentioned below first, the elaboration of a feasibility study of the given implementation project, which will contain at least the following parts:

·         Current status,

·         Problems of the current solution,

·         List of stakeholders,

·         Legislative framework and identification of necessary changes,

·         Stakeholder expectations

·         Blockchain suitability analysis,

·         Description of alternative solutions and their comparison,

·         Detailed description of the proposed solution,

·         Cost-benefit analysis,

·         Estimated time frame for implementation.

The list of use cases below has been drawn up based on current knowledge and experience, deployments abroad and meetings with stakeholders during the preparation of this article. This list is not complete, we expect to identify more and more possible uses of blockchain in the future. It is also possible that some projects that seem appropriate at first glance will be later in detail discarded as inappropriate for various reasons. The description of the projects is only very brief and before their implementation will require a deeper examination of the issue, for example in the form of a study (as mentioned above).

Schedule and procedure for the implementation of a simpler project:

Stage

Activity

Main activities

Duration [weeks]

I.

Feasibility study, analysis,

specification

Procurement

8

Delivery, implementation

8

II.

Delivery, development, testing,

implementation, training

Procurement

8

Development

13

Testing, training, deployment

4

III.

Project management, quality supervision

Procurement

8 (in parallel with II.)

Management and supervision

(according to II.)

Total

41

Schedule for the implementation of a simple project

Schedule and procedure for the implementation of a medium-complex project:

Stage

Activity

Main activities

Duration [weeks]

I.

Feasibility study, analysis,

specification

Procurement

8

Delivery, implementation

16

II.

Delivery, development, testing,

implementation, training

Procurement

8

Development

32

Testing, training, deployment

8

III.

Project management, quality supervision

Procurement

8 (in parallel with II.)

Management and supervision

(according to II.)

Total

72

Schedule for the implementation of a medium-complex project

Schedule and procedure for the implementation of a larger project:

Stage

Activity

Main activities

Duration [weeks]

I.

Feasibility study, analysis,

specification

Procurement

8

Delivery, implementation

24

II.

Delivery, development, testing,

implementation, training

Procurement

12

Development

45

Testing, training, deployment

12

III.

Project management, quality supervision

Procurement

8 (in parallel with II.)

Management and supervision

(according to II.)

Total

101

Schedule for the implementation of a larger project

Note: the schedules assume the use of the existing blockchain, they do not include any development and deploying of a new blockchain.

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