1. Introduction to PAERA

1.1 Objective

This document aims to guide public sector organizations and governments undergoing digital transformation. In such organizations, there are typically two groups of people: management with governance background and IT personnel who are familiar with the technical aspects of digitalization. Often, these groups have different vocabularies and varying understandings of the scope and objectives of digitalization, which can lead to tensions.

This document is constructed in an accessible manner to overcome the dichotomy of governance and IT way of thinking, so it could be used:

  • By high-level people (governance) to understand the hidden dependencies in the building blocks in the whole ecosystem.

  • By IT personnel to better comprehend objectives, scope and required sequencing of digitalisation programs.

This document outlines GovStack building blocks for implementing Enterprise Architecture practices in Digital Government (DG) and establishes a Reference Architecture for the target ecosystem.

This document aims to provide the reader with an understanding of:

  • The value proposition of the GovStack approach, and how it helps with the adoption of digital transformation initiatives.

  • How Building Blocks approach (also, GovStack approach) and Enterprise Architecture practices interact, and how they can be used for the needs of a specific government.

  • What are the dependencies and potential conflicts when attempting to apply the GovStack approach for digital transformation.

1.2 Motivation

It is crucial that all countries, particularly those with lower incomes, are given an equal opportunity to develop digitally. The digital revolution is currently offering opportunities that can be used to tackle the most urgent global issues within the framework of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) serve as reliable facilitators in this regard.

As technology continues to evolve, we often focus on the latest solutions and the potential for rapid progress, but we may overlook the critical underlying conditions required for success. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles that can prevent us from achieving our goals, such as improper sequencing of changes, poor change management practices, or inadequate sourcing strategies for digitalization.

There are many reasons why our efforts may fail, and success requires navigating a narrow path.

The Public Administration Ecosystem Reference Architecture (PAERA) aims to provide coordinated, efficient, and equitable services by transcending those boundaries.

This Reference Architecture presents a comprehensive approach that combines IT processes with government business strategies, guided by principles of digital governance.

In practice, the most significant reasons why governments adopt this approach are usually the need to ensure that business and technology are aligned and the need to manage complexity effectively.

Another important lesson that PAERA wants to convey to readers is that Change Management should be addressed at both the government and public administration levels in a coordinated manner. This is crucial to overcome typical challenges that are daily arising and negatively impacting modernization efforts.

1.3 GovStack Vision

The GovStack vision is to accelerate the digital transformation of government services. This will empower governments to build a more effective and cost-efficient public sector, taking ownership of their digital future.

GovStack is a platform that will help countries start their digital transformation journey by adopting, deploying, and scaling digital government services. PAERA explains how the GovStack Approach, which involves digital building blocks, can help governments easily create or modify their digital platforms, services, and applications.

The GovStack approach simplifies solution architectures, reduces cost, and decreases the time-to-market of digitalization programs. It aims to build a common understanding and technical practice of using fundamental, reusable, and interoperable digital components applicable to any public administration. PAERA collectively refers to those as building blocks.

The GovStack initiative is led by a community of subject matter experts and involves multiple stakeholders who develop concrete guidance for strengthening a government’s ability to deliver practical solutions.

GovStack is a platform that analyses digital government experiences worldwide. It identifies the common successful approaches used in countries that lead the transformation of government services through digitalization. GovStack building blocks represent an empirical abstraction of these approaches, and the PAERA outlines the baseline of the GovStack building blocks framework.

GovStack has started to develop specifications for reusable building blocks. Even if building block specifications are standardized, situations in which they will be utilized are always unique. Here is where change management comes in as a high-level requirement to manage the processes. We highlight timelines and dependencies wherever possible to make it easier for individuals to determine the appropriate course of action in their unique digital journey.

GovStack will work with all different communities who develop software solutions that adhere to these specifications to ensure interoperability between different GovStack-compliant software products.

Following the development of specifications, the collaboration will create a reference digital government service that will demonstrate the reuse of elements across sectors and services.

The design specifications and the resulting government reference platform will be available as “digital public goods” for the global community.

We believe that the GovStack building block approach, enterprise architecture practice, and adequate change management will make digital transformation in public administration sustainable and effective and benefit citizens, businesses, and all social and demographic groups.

1.4 GovStack Origin

The GovStack initiative was launched in 2021 under the leadership of four partners:

  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

  • Republic of Estonia

  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

  • Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL)


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