Canada: e-gov Bulletin - December 2004

Last Updated: December 20 2004

Edited by Michael Power


  • British Columbia: Agreement to Improve Customer Service, Debt Collection
  • E.U.: eGovernment in the Next Decade, the Vision and Key Challenges
  • European Commission Adopts Communication on Future Information Society Strategy
  • France: "Legal Simplification" Law to Boost E-Government Development
  • Germany: Bremen Launches Mobile City Portal
  • Italy: Government to Adopt E-Government Legal Code
  • Microsoft Opens Worldwide eGov Network
  • New Brunswick: Premier Opens Community Access Centre in Burkina Faso
  • Newfoundland: Appointment of Chief Information Officer
  • Polish Government to Launch E-Procurement Platform
  • Prince Edward Island: Webcast of Legislative Assembly Proceedings
  • U.K.: Government Suffers Major Computer Failure
  • U.K.: New Open Source Body Opens Its Doors
  • U.K.: Queen's Speech Unveils Plans for ID Cards
  • U.S.: Government's E-Authentication Scheme Just Might Work, Study Says

British Columbia: Agreement To Improve Customer Service, Debt Collection

A new revenue management agreement will streamline and simplify customer service, enhance personal privacy protections and provide net financial benefits to the Province worth $382 million over the next 10 years, Provincial Revenue Minister Rick Thorpe announced on November 26.

The Province signed a 10-year contract with EDS Advanced Solutions Inc., to begin co-ordinating more than 40 revenue systems currently spread across ministries. Beginning in December 2004, EDS Advanced Solutions will deliver information technology services to the Ministry of Provincial Revenue and perform billing, remittance and payment processing, and non-tax collection functions for several government programs. Government's collection guidelines and procedures will continue to be governed by the ministry.

The contract includes a range of strict provisions that meet or exceed the privacy standards set by the Province's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well as the recent recommendations put forward by the Information and Privacy Commissioner. These provisions reaffirm British Columbia's position as a leader in privacy protection.

The measures include:

  • The Province retains control and ownership of personal information.
  • No data storage or remote access from outside Canada.
  • Technological safeguards and dedicated staff, including a security and compliance officer, who will oversee protection of personal information.
  • All directors on the board of EDS Advanced Solutions are resident Canadians.
  • Disclosure of personal information in response to a requirement of a foreign country is expressly prohibited.
  • The Province has power of attorney to step in and take control of the company's operations in the event of an anticipated privacy breach.
  • Severe consequences, including termination of the contract and financial damages, in the event of non-compliance.
  • EDS Advanced Solutions' employees are protected by whistleblower provisions and must report any unauthorized disclosure of information.

Project summary report on this contract available at:

Full press release available at:

E.U.: Egovernment In The Next Decade, The Vision And Key Challenges

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre has published a summary report of discussions and activities from a workshop held in Seville in March 2004, taking a "bluesky" approach to European eGovernment in 2010 and the obstacles to realizing this vision. The report first sets out how eGovernment in Europe is expected to change in the next decade. Secondly, it outlines a number of current trends in eGovernment and the implementation challenges that administrations face in political, strategic, structural, social and interoperability terms. Specific eGovernment research challenges include open source tools for eGovernment applications, enhancing the role of intermediaries and the use of access technologies.

Report available at: (PDF document - 399KB)

European Commission Adopts Communication On Future Information Society Strategy

The European Commission adopted on November 19, 2004, a Communication on the "Challenges for Europe's Information Society beyond 2005," which aims to be the starting point for a future EU Information Society strategy.

The Communication outlines the Commission's view of the key policy challenges that a European Information Society strategy needs to address up to 2010, i.e. during the last five years of the Lisbon Strategy. The document identifies challenges in a number of areas, including social inclusion and citizenship, content and services, public services, skills and work, ICT as a key industry sector, interoperability of ICT networks and applications, trust and dependability, and ICT for business processes.

The Communication is the starting point of a reflection process that will lead to the adoption of a new Information Society strategy succeeding the current eEurope 2005 Action Plan and covering the period 2006-2010. Over the coming year the Commission will consult with stakeholders, including the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions, as well as the eEurope Advisory Group in order to bring forward a new policy agenda.

Full press report available at:

France: "Legal Simplification" Law To Boost E-Government Development

On November 18, 2004, the French Parliament approved a new law authorizing the Government to issue ordinances relating to administrative and legal simplification. Among other things, the law will enable the Government to issue a number of legal texts providing a framework for the further development of e-government.

Up to now, most major French e-government initiatives—such as, for instance, the e-tax returns and e-VAT services—were made possible by a number of specific legal texts voted by Parliament. According to the Government, this approach is not sustainable in the long run and a number of new legal provisions need to be adopted without delay to simplify existing administrative rules and enable further e-government progress. To this end, article 3 of the new law will allow the Government to adopt a number of ordinances (regulations) relating to e-government, without having to go through lengthy parliamentary procedures for each individual measure.

The law will make it possible for all public administrations to develop and deploy electronic services in order to simplify administrative procedures for their users, provided these services comply with the security standards and interoperability specifications that will be set by the ordinances.

The new law, which follows up on a previous "legal simplification" law of July 2, 2003, is expected to come into force in early 2005, enabling the Government to adopt a number of e-government ordinances in the first quarter of 2005.

Full press report available at:

Germany: Bremen Launches Mobile City Portal

The German City of Bremen has launched Mobile City, a portal dedicated to mobile technologies and services. With this portal, the tech-savvy Hanseatic city intends to act as a test-bed for the development of mobile public services.

The new Mobile City portal is part of Bremen's strategy to encourage technological innovation by creating a platform for knowledge sharing in advanced mobile applications within a centre of excellence for the development and testing of mobile technologies. Over the last few years the City authorities have supported the emerging mobile technologies' industry, turning Bremen into a reference in this field. The Mobile City initiative, which is the result of a public-private partnership between the city authorities and a number of private sector suppliers, seeks to foster the development of mobile applications for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and public mobile services for citizens.

The new portal will therefore act as a test-bed for mobile services, allowing businesses to test and develop their ideas. The best projects may then be selected and funded by the City, in particular for the development of new m-government services. According to Harald Krause of the Bremen e-goverment program, national governments throughout the EU should support the development of such test-beds in order to foster innovation in the e-government arena.

Mobile City available at:

Full press report available at:

Italy: Government To Adopt E-Government Legal Code

On November 11, the Italian Government unveiled its proposed 'Digital Administration Code', a new legal text that aims at providing a clear framework for the development of e-government and for the emergence of an "efficient and friendly" public administration.

The proposed Digital Administration Code contains a number of rules, obligations, recommendations and targets to boost the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the Italian public sector. It aims at contributing to removing obstacles to further e-government development, such as "cultural difficulties" and "obsolete norms."

The Digital Administration Code will give citizens and businesses the right to demand and obtain that public administration bodies use electronic means in their day-to-day relationship with users. In addition, by recognizing full legal value to documents transmitted electronically, the Code will contribute to the establishment of a paperless public administration in Italy.

The Digital Administration Code, formally a decree to be signed by the President of the Republic, is expected to be finalized, adopted and enacted in early 2005. Italy will then join other European countries, such as Finland and Austria, which have already adopted specific e-government legislations.

Full press report available at:

Microsoft Opens Worldwide eGov Network

Microsoft has unveiled a new global initiative allowing its public sector customers to collaborate on eGovernment activity via a common online interface. The Redmond software giant has announced the Solutions Sharing Network (SSN), which it said would enable governments and other public bodies to "share their unique IT solutions, architectures, best practices, application source code that the governments own" alongside "research to increase efficiencies and reduce long-term development costs." Microsoft will provide free tools for its clients to build up a worldwide network of portals offering "a hosted, catalogued repository of knowledge" focusing on "community, collaboration, and research and development." The 13 launch partners include NGOs, associations and government bodies from countries including the U.S., France, Ireland, Egypt, South Africa and the U.K.

Microsoft announcement available at:

New Brunswick: Premier Opens Community Access Centre In Burkina Faso

Premier Bernard Lord opened a community access centre (CAC) today in Ziniaré, the village where Blaise Compaoré, the President of Burkina Faso, was born. The Ziniaré CAC will contain computers with Internet access, multimedia equipment and a library. The announcement was made in connection with the 10th Francophonie Summit, taking place in Burkina Faso, Africa.

"Burkinans in this area will be able to communicate with the worldwide Francophonie on the Internet from now on," Lord said. "The Government of New Brunswick is pleased to help set up this technical centre that will enable the residents of Ziniaré and the surrounding area, particularly young people, to access new learning and communications opportunities."

Full press release available at:

Newfoundland: Appointment Of Chief Information Officer

Premier Danny Williams announced earlier in November the appointment of Peter Shea as Chief Information Officer (CIO) with the Department of Business.

The appointment of a chief information officer was a commitment in government's Blueprint, and the Premier said he is pleased to have fulfilled yet another commitment which will enable government to deliver their mandate of economic growth and job creation.

The chief information officer will also be responsible for building and maintaining an information strategy for government; ensuring that information technology development projects enable that strategy; and optimizing external business opportunities that arise from internal IT development projects. Mr. Shea will be assessing all of government's IT resources as well.

Mr. Shea's appointment was effective November 15, 2004.

Full press release available at:

Polish Government To Launch E-Procurement Platform

Poland's Public Procurement Office is currently testing a new e-procurement platform, which is due to be launched nationwide in 2005.

During the pilot phase, the e-procurement platform, called "Public Procurement System" (PPS), will be tested by the Public Procurement Office and by 18 entities from central, regional and local administration levels. After the testing phase is completed in early 2005, the e-procurement platform will be made available free of charge to all interested parties—contracting authorities and tenderers—but its use will not be mandatory.

Under the new law on public procurement adopted earlier this year in Poland, public sector bodies can organize electronic auctions for purchases of goods up to EUR 60,000. In addition to allowing for the digitization of administrative processes related to contract award procedures, the new platform also includes a public portal devoted to public procurement issues.

Full press report available at:

Prince Edward Island: Webcast Of Legislative Assembly Proceedings

For the first time, the video proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island will be webcast (streaming video on the Internet) in their entirety. Hon. Greg Deighan, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, announced today that the proceedings of the Assembly, including the Speech from the Throne as delivered by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor on Opening Day, November 18 at 3 p.m., will be webcast with access through the Assembly's Web site at

Live audio proceedings have been available through the Assembly's Web site since 1996; however, this is the first time that both audio and video will be made available. Proceedings will be available live or in an archived format, so those interested may check the Web site and view any portion of the debate occurring in the Chamber.

Full press release available at:

U.K.: Government Suffers Major Computer Failure

U.K. Government IT projects are set to come under increased public scrutiny following the disruption which ensued from a major systems failure at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Problems with a routine software upgrade affected around 80,000 desktop PCs at the DWP and left staff unable to process new and amended pensions and benefits claims. While ministers and DWP officials played down the incident, the crash has undoubtedly damaged public confidence in the Government's ability to manage large-scale IT projects, such as the identity card scheme. The Public and Commercial Services Union, the largest public sector union, called on the Government to hold off its plans for massive job cuts at the DWP in light of the latest "crisis."

Full PCS statement available at:

U.K.: New Open Source Body Opens Its Doors

A new IT body has been launched in the U.K. to promote the use of open source technologies within the public sector. Around 60 European open source service providers have joined together to form a not-for-profit industry representative group called the Open Source Consortium. The OSC will serve as an independent and impartial reference point for all organizations deploying, or considering, the open source route. The move is also an attempt to set professional standards and provide accreditation for firms offering open source specialist consultancy. "Increasingly the IT requirements in the public sector are burdened with the greater demands from central government, coupled with tight budgets," commented OSC Chairman Mark Taylor. "The OSC recognize these requirements and through its formation will provide high value, reliable and flexible solutions, based on open source technologies to meet Government e-services targets."

For further details see the OSC Web site at:

U.K.: Queen's Speech Unveils Plans For Id Cards

The introduction of a national compulsory identity card scheme was among the plans set out in the British Government's legislative agenda for the new parliamentary session. The Queen's Speech, marking the state opening of Parliament, announced 32 bills overwhelmingly dominated by measures to address national security and law and order issues. The Home Office department unveiled its Identity Card Bill days later on November 29, stating that the ID card scheme, which will include biometric identifers, would become a "gold standard" for proving identity.

Full text of the Queen's Speech available at:

Home Office Press release available at:

U.S.: Government's E-Authentication Scheme Just Might Work, Study Says

The government's E-Authentication Initiative could serve as a model for far-reaching authentication programs linking government and private-sector organizations, an independent study of the system has concluded.

The E-Authentication Initiative is a government-wide infrastructure allowing agencies to rely on digital credentials issued by other organizations. Because the government does not expect to issue a national identification card and individual agencies do not want to be in the business of issuing and managing digital certificates, the goal is to leverage standards-based off-the-shelf technology to authenticate the identity of persons accessing government information or services.

The initiative specifies four levels of assurance, with technical requirements for each level, and has standardized on version 1.0 of the Security Assertion Markup Language.

The program is in government-wide pilot and is authorized to go into live production. A handful of agencies are participating in pilot programs using E-Authentication.

The advantage of a federated scheme based on industry standards is that agencies do not have to maintain their own credentialing infrastructure. For end users, it can provide a way to access resources with a single set of credentials.

Eventually, the trust relationships are expected to extend across public and private-sector boundaries in dynamic relationships.

"It is going to take five years or more before we have dynamic federations," Dan Blum (one of the authors of the report from Burton Group), said Wednesday in a briefing on the initiative.

The government has financially supported and cooperated with the Electronic Authentication Partnership, an industry organization working to establish business rules for interoperable authentication.

The Burton Group report recommends continuing and extending private-sector collaboration and expanding the standards supported by the initiative, converging on SAML 2.0 in the next two or three years.

Full press report available at:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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