Get on the same platform, CIO Council urges

Leveraging cloud-supported solutions and hosted APIs can help modernize and digitize federal agencies, improving efficiency and effectiveness, a new report says.

Taking a government-as-a-platform approach to IT service delivery by leveraging cloud-supported solutions can help modernize and digitize federal agencies, according to a new report from the CIO Council.

Application components such as payments, user authentication, analytics, and workflow management “can be built once, offered as developer-focused services, and shared between missions,”  stated the report, titled “Developer Platforms: Shared Services for Common Developer-Focused APIs and Services.” The goal is to offer federal departments and agencies best practices for using new platform capabilities powered by cloud and hosted application programming interfaces.

Several examples of these shared platforms already exist here and abroad. Login.gov is a shared authentication platform that 18F is developing to support a streamlined login experience that lets end users access a variety of federal services with a streamlined verification and login process. Because Login.gov is a shared platform, “the software, documentation, and processes are reusable across agencies,” the report said.

Another example is Cloud.gov, which is a platform-as-a-service offering that already complies with federal security requirements. Systems built on it inherit this compliance, which substantially reduces the amount of compliance work required and allows development teams to iterate, launch and scale applications rapidly. A free sandbox account is available to all government staff who want to evaluate Cloud.gov.

The third example of a shared platform, Pay.gov was created by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service in 2000 as a secure platform for handling payments to the federal government. It provides four main services: collections, reporting of transactions, electronic billing for payments due and hosting of forms. “As of 2016, Pay.gov collects over 119 million transactions worth over $106 billion per year and has broad acceptance across agencies,” according to the report.

Across the pond, the United Kingdom launched its government-as-a-platform strategy four years ago. There, publishing was the first common platform for all government departments and agencies moving their messaging to Gov.UK to conform to standards set by the country’s Government Digital Service. Since then, GDS has identified the 50 most common government transactions and is making the top 25 digital by default, modular and sharable across departments, the report stated.

Additionally, GDS doesn’t build all the tools, but rather supports agencies that want to build them for the purpose of sharing them. “There is an opportunity to make the government start thinking of itself and behaving as a single entity, because that is the way citizens perceive it,” the report said.

Another country spearheading government as a platform is Estonia. Its backbone infrastructure, called the X-Road interoperability platform, launched in 2001 and provides a single secure, shared environment for exchanging data among government organizations and systems, according to the report. A citizen portal makes all government services available in one spot, and the Estonian E-File system uses X-Road to connect courts, police, public prosecutors, prisons and lawyers, for instance.

“The X-Road architecture includes databases run by private-sector companies, particularly banks and telecommunications companies,” the report states. “To access data, citizens provide their eID, a nationally-standardized system that verifies their identity online. The chip on the eID card carries embedded, encrypted files that serve as an electronic credential. Citizens can use their eID cards as their national health insurance cards, to prove identity when logging into their bank accounts, for signing digital documents, electronic voting, picking up prescriptions ordered online, and more.”

To make government as a platform more widespread stateside, the report offered some suggestions from the Data Cabinet, a data science community of practice that works with government data leaders to find opportunities to securely share data across agencies.

Create a single conduit within and outside the agency for responding to requests for datasets, analyzing data disclosure considerations and generating data sharing agreements. “This reduces duplication of work, increases data discoverability, ensures consistency of privacy, legal, and security analysis, allows for standardized templates to be used, and enables lifecycle tracking of data sharing agreements.”

Develop common templates and agreements to streamline the data sharing process. Using standard templates would help break “trust frameworks” into fundamental assertions through a unified solution, and those assertions can be joined to create new agreements out of established components.

These new approaches can bring plenty of benefit without a hefty price tag. For instance, eligibility determination, project management tools, source code hosting and notification messaging services all come with advantages to the adopter at medium costs, according to the report.

Shifting to government as a platform “will require close collaboration between industry and government, disseminating lessons learned from early adopters, leveraging existing services and contracts, and sharing information,” but will be worth the effort, the report found.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.