The Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University at Albany-SUNY recently released two white papers on government interoperability. Interoperability is a key component of government reform and requires investments that involve complex policy, management, and technology changes that government leaders are often hesitant or unprepared to undertake.

Both papers, Government Worth Having and Improving Government Interoperability, address these issues and propose a new framework to help governments identify and then start building the capabilities needed to improve interoperability. The two papers were written with support from Microsoft Corp.

Government Worth Having

 The first paper, Government Worth Having: A briefing on interoperability for government leaders, is specifically to help government leaders understand the important role that they play in enabling -- not hindering -- more interoperable government. This paper presents a unique focus on the creation of policy and management capability, rather than technical capability, necessary to create interoperable government. It presents a set of recommendations to guide these leaders in the development of policies and principles for action.

"While public officials at all levels of government play important roles in interoperability efforts, government leaders alone have the power to alleviate the institutional constraints that impede these potentially transformative, but highly complex enterprise initiatives," said Theresa Pardo, deputy director and co-author of the papers. "Unfortunately, while leaders have the unique power to make these changes, experience shows that the policy environments they have created, or in many cases inherited, often limit the capability of governments to share authority, to collaborate, and to jointly and strategically manage enterprise initiatives. To change this, leaders must understand the link between their policy decisions and the capability of governments to create the systems necessary to share information and other resources across boundaries."

Improving Government Interoperability

second paper, Improving Government Interoperability: A capability framework for government managers, is a practical guide for those government managers responsible for turning interoperability goals into real capabilities. The paper presents a framework for governments as they begin to move beyond a new vision of government to the reality. The framework focuses first on understanding the capabilities needed to develop and manage (i.e., plan, select, control, and evaluate) initiatives to improve interoperability among government agencies and their partners, and second on determining the right mix of capabilities needed to share information across a network of organizations. The framework is provided for immediate use by government managers to assess existing and needed capabilities for improving government interoperability.