Implementation and Management Approach
GEMMA is developed and maintained by EGEM, a public agency created (december 2003) and funded by the Ministry of the Interior and the Association of Dutch Municipalities. EGEM is part of the ICTU, the ICT Execution Organization, an public institution that was created to carry out e-government projects for different authorities (see also: http://tinyurl.com/n3r85q) .
EGEM itself is governed by a steering committee under the chairmanship of a mayor and with representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the Association of Dutch Municipalities, and the Association of Town Clerks. The steering committee sets the yearly agenda and makes final decisions about the products to be developed. On a day-to-day basis, the steering committee is represented by the Management Team, in which the Projectmanager Architecture is responsible for GEMMA.
The Management Team is advised on a once-a-month basis by an advisory body consisting of members from municipalities. The advisory board discusses new products and other, more general developments that affect municipalities and formulates requests and priorities. The MT canalizes this advice to the steering committee. There are two advisory bodies: one with business architecture, and one with information architecture as scope. The first group is populated by the likes of Municipal IT-managers and e-Government Programme Managers. The later group consists of the more technical municipal specialists, such as IT-architects and integration specialists.
EGEM works closely together with both municipalities and suppliers in developing the architectures and standards. The governance of all GEMMA-products is currently under redesign, partly due to the continuation of EGEMs activities in the new KING organization (as of January 1st, 2010), but for most products, stakeholders can participate on three levels: as part of a community of interest, as part of an expert-group, or as part of an decision-making group. The community only receives regular status-updates, mailings and possibly requests for comments, the expert-groups consist of experts from suppliers and municipalities that actively help co-develop architectures and standards, and the decision-making group formalizes new versions and agrees on issues like release- and configuration management.
For some GEMMA products the role of the decision-making group is performed by the EGEM Management Team. For the data model, and data exchange formats, all three roles and a very strict governance model is in place (see http://www.egem-iteams.nl/beheermodel-en-releasebeleid, in Dutch only). Creating consensus in the decision-group gives these standards and their release calendars wide-spread supplier support.
The service-delivery standards were all co-developed by expert-groups consisting of domain experts from municipalities and suppliers. All major electronic form suppliers even formally committed themselves to participate in the development and governance of the e-form standards by signing a letter of intent.
Communication with the community and knowledge management is facilitated by a dedicated electronic environment for GEMMA (https://www.surfgroepen.nl/sites/gemma/default.aspx -free registration required). In this environment, all relevant documents (documents that are not publicly available on the EGEM website) regarding (the development of) the GEMMA products are available. It also contains an discussion environment that can be used to ask questions or formulate RFCâ€™s. For the StUF standard, this forum is functioning so well that support questions are al relayed to this forum, and most questions can be answered by the experts in the community, instead of by EGEM experts.
For all products a change management procedure is in place. RFCâ€™s are collected, registered and filtered by EGEM. Then these RFCâ€™s are discussed in the expert and/or decision-making groups, and if accepted they are scheduled for the next release (for more info on the release calendars see: http://www.egem-iteams.nl/releasekalender-gemma).
As EGEM is a temporary organization (this changes with the arrival of KING per January 1st 2009), Human Resource Management is a particular area of concern. For this reason, only few of GEMMAs architects can actually be employed by EGEM itself. ICTU and EGEM, however have a policy in place under which civil servants of municipalities or national administrations can be posted for a specific term (typically 1-2 years) at ICTU/EGEM. This way EGEM attracts practical knowledge from municipalities, and in the longer term creates GEMMA ambassadors in the field. The gap between the need for personnel and the EGEM â€“employed and the temporarily-posted is filled with contracted consultants. These are contracted via one of the preferred consultancy-suppliers (as a result of an European tender) of ICTU.
For the implementation of GEMMA, EGEM cooperates with i-teams. I-teams is a sister-programme of EGEM within ICTU. I-teams helps all Dutch municipalities create a by management formally accepted â€˜e-government implementation-planâ€™. This is done by specially trained and certified egov-consultants that all visit one or more municipalities. GEMMA is one of the main means to realize the egov ambitions in the plans.
The set of architectures and standards that make up GEMMA is composed in such a way that GEMMA promotes interoperability on a semantic, technical, and organizational, or process-level. Interoperability on semantic level is created by means of the data model standards, which are canonical data models. Technical interoperability is created by the data exchange standards from the StUF-family. Organizational and process interoperability is created by means of the process-architecture and the GEMMA e-processes. In the process-architecture and e-processes, the interfaces with other organizations are explicitly indicated.
GEMMA consists of architectures and standards, which are by definition to a certain degree technology-independent. There are, however several technology choices that have been made for the specific GEMMA products. In general, GEMMA products are based on well-proven technology instead of the newest state-of-the art technology.
The StUF standards are based on well-accepted W3C standards as XML, SOAP and WSDL. Semanticaly, the StUF messages are based on the canonical data models RSGB and RGBZ. In its newest version, StUF 3.01, StUF is designed following the basic principles of Service Oriented Architecture. StUF also includes specifications for binding to the ebMS and WUS protocols that are supported by the Dutch Governmental Service Bus (OSB).
The architecture products are build around the concept of a â€œmidofficeâ€, which conceptually contains application functionality that is needed to connect the citizen-driven front-office with existing legacy back-office applications, such as. It also contains functionality that is shared between the different specialized backoffices, such as a Document Management and Content Management Functionality. Both architectures are also designed around the notion of a realistic use of concepts from service-oriented architecture. Not the fully-fledged ambitious kind with service directories and on-the-fly coupling of services , but more down-to earth componentization of applications and processes, and formulating existing and not yet existent interfaces in terms of services.
The service-delivery standards e-forms, e-processes and the â€˜case-type catalogueâ€™ take a much lower technology approach to standardization, as a main part of its targeted users are not architects or technical specialists, but also the civil servants in he municipal processes themselves. They must be able to review the standards and decide to adopt them in their own situation. The e-form specifications are therefore made available as Openoffice.org documents (EGEM and ICTU use Open Office throughout the organization). The case type catalogue as simple spreadsheet, and the e-processes as graphical pdf documents, but following the international Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) standard.