National Interoperability Framework

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Introduction

On the 1st of March 2019, the Government Council adopted the National Interoperability Framework (NIF) (in French) guiding public sector organisms of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which fall within its scope, on how to attain a higher level of interoperability.

A high level of interoperability is an essential, central and indispensable element to advance in a quick, consistent and sustainable fashion on the path of digital transformation. This is vital in order to put in place a modern, efficient and effective administration placing the user, his needs, his expectations and requirements at the centre of its concerns.

The NIF’s endorsement by the Government Council and its subsequent publication do not necessarily guarantee its defined objectives and benefits per se, but rather mark the starting point for the long-term implementation of interoperability across government.  

Now all the stakeholders concerned have to breathe life into the NIF, tangible and concrete field measures have to be taken and, notably, an effective and efficient governance on all levels has to be established to implement the NIF and its principles. 

Definition

Interoperability in the context of the NIF represents the ability of different heterogeneous organisations to interact towards mutually beneficial goals, involving the sharing of information and knowledge between these organisations, through the business processes they support, by means of the exchange of data between their ICT systems. An element of this interoperability is a service’s ability to communicate and exchange information in an efficient, effective, quick and simple manner with other services across organisations, in order to achieve a mutual goal in the common interest of the involved organisations and users. Interoperability covers the following levels: legislation, organisation, semantics and technique.

Context

On a national and international (notably EU) level, the need for all electronic administrations to interact with other organisations and to exchange data or documents is increasing and becoming more and more pressing.

In parallel, these interactions are increasing in complexity and interdependence between organisations and services.  These complex interactions thus become an integral and inevitable part of digital transformation, and drive the need for a high standard of interoperability on all levels. A high level of interoperability is also increasingly demanded by political powers, and expected from citizens and businesses.

For these reasons, the European Commission has already been supporting initiatives aiming to promote and develop interoperability at a European level for many years. In 2010, it adopted the communication Towards interoperability for European public services of which the annexes contain a European Interoperability Strategy (EIS) as well as a European Interoperability Framework (EIF). More recently, the Commission released a new version of the EIF in 2017 to push a more ambitious vision for the interoperability framework and to factor in the latest technical evolutions. On the basis of this EIF, the Commission will evaluate all Member States, as it had already done with the preceding EIF, regarding their national level of interoperability as well as their level of conformity to the principles and recommendations of the EIF.

With this document, Luxembourg for the first time issues a NIF that defines within the same text all the elements necessary to have a coherent and clearly structured base for interoperability in the Luxembourg public sector. This NIF builds on the new EIF whilst taking into account the context and the specific national needs. Therefore, the NIF both conforms to the requirements set out by the Commission’s EIF, and enables the Luxembourg Government to advance on its path towards a higher level of interoperability.

Objectives

The objectives of the NIF are in particular:

  • Improve the practical governance of interoperability.
  • Intensify and extend the collaboration between the different concerned actors.
  • Complete and extend the mapping and the cartography of the existing services.
  • Communicate more frequently and in a more coherent and systematic manner n on interoperability, notably via the creation of a catalogue of interoperable services, using the aforementioned cartography as a source.
  • Generalise the systematic use by all stakeholders of a user centred approach which puts interoperability from the beginning at the centre of every project, action or decision (Interoperability by design).
  • Establish the NIF principles and recommendations as guidelines to be taken into account by all the stakeholders concerned.

Expected benefits

The expected benefits from the NIF are:

  • Efficiency and effectiveness gains.
  • Cost reductions (financial and human resources) in service development;
  • Time gains in service development.
  • Superior quality of services (notably via standardisation, reuse and mutualisation of services).
  • Enhanced services security (notably via standardisation and elimination of superfluous services).
  • More transparency and openness (for the end users but also for those in charge of service delivery).

Principles of the NIF

  1. Openness (data, specifications, software)
  2. Transparency (procedures, data, services)
  3. Reuse, reusability and sharing
  4. Technical neutrality and data portability
  5. User-centred approach
  6. Inclusion and accessibility
  7. Security and privacy
  8. Multilingualism
  9. Administrative simplification
  10. Data retention
  11. Effectiveness and efficiency

The 48 recommandations

The NIF’s proposes 48 recommendations that constitute its core and will have the most practical value for interoperability professionals. They provide a framework for the interoperability actions to be undertaken, and guide all the stakeholders of the public sector in how to embed interoperability from the outset into any new service delivery project, or how to adapt their existing services to be interoperable. 

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