I believed I had seen almost all possible ideas on how to benchmark various countries' implementations of eGovernment - from the United Nations ongoing global evaluations with a huge number of variables and a declared objective to try and adapt to the technological development, to the CapGemini/EU Benchmarks going on since 2001 with the original intention to map the specific objectives in the Lisbon Declaration i2010. Also OECD regularly visits the member states and evaluate and encourages eGovernment development, and The Economist have for years been doing the same.
Particularly the EU benchmarks seem to have come to the end of their practical life, because their original objectives more or less have been achieved for the 8 Company oriented services and the 12 Citizen oriented eGovernment services benchmarked since 2001, so a new approach has been expected. 2 suggestions have been put on the table: The original proposal from 2009, Alexander Schellong et al., Benchmarking Europe 2010+ was refined into The 2011-2015 Benchmarking Framework as adopted by the i2010 High Level Group and the other more radical suggestion by David Osimo , Benchmarking eGovernment in the web 2.0 Era.
By coincidence and as a bonus for following the Linkedin group 'Open Government'
I noticed the discussion typed in by Davide: 'In Italy we made a framework for website's transparency which uses a web instrument called the Compass of Transparency.'
So I went to The Transparency Compass Home Page
and using the Google Translate to my national language, it was clear that this was a relatively straight forward instrument to engage citizens in analysing their local Government with regard to Transparency, possibility for citizen interaction and for the accountability of the administration in question. I tried to key in a couple of municipalities, first The Municipality of Bologna
as they in my mind has been one of the leading cities in Europe creating their famous Iperbole website many years ago and engaging in services covering both city admin, cultural events, education and other sectors of general interest. The scores obtained in the Compass test, however, clearly indicates to many not-so-happy smileys, so it is quite obvious, that the bar has been raised in this evaluation.
Davide, who apparently was one of the fathers for the Compass expresses it this way:
'We unify all the Italian laws that tell you what you have to publish in institutional web sites given to each section a standardised name and semantics.'
'We are improving it and spread it to all public administrative sites - it is not easy because we have more than 20.000 public agencies in Italy'
'We didn't do so much advertising ye 'cause we are testing it and introducing new features.... Right now we have more than 800 visitors a day and it's growing ...which means that we will reach our target: PARTICIPATION - citizens are directly involved in TRANPARENCY compliance programs, and COLLABORATION - citizens helped Government at a local and at a central level to enhance quality, and also the system provides a better accountability by public managers.'
'I work as a program manager in Italian presidency of the Council of Ministers, and I made it with very little budget in 2 months of hard work together with a small company'
If you check the list of questions (43 in all!) you will find that the checklist covers a lot from the visibility of the public web site and services, presence of an announced transparency program, follow-up procedures for transparency and participation, responsibilities for each office/agency, secure mailboxes, protection of personal data, names and CV's of managers, renumeration , absence rates of key employees, annual salaries, bonuses, public procurement and supplementary contracts,
access to files on beneficiaries, Public invitations to tender, Legal advices, privacy statements etc.
If you check out one of the other quite advanced cities, like The Municipality of Venezia
you will notice that like Bologna only very few green smileys appear, showing that this is still in it's early days. But interesting and inspiring to notice that this is something originated by the Italian Government. Congrats to Davide and his team, once the Data Regulation on provacy comes into effect, it may an idea to have a pan-European Compass tracking how it eventually will become implemented.