More Interoperability Efforts Underway

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) recently released the report “Connecting the Silos: Using Governance Models to Achieve Data Integration“. The report received coverage recently in, a government/IT media group. The article discusses the difficulties in governing complex information systems especially when multiple governments are involved. (Describes voter registration to a “T”!!) As the article notes:

Although technology is an integral part of the [data integration] challenge, the [NASCIO report] states how an initiative’s governance or organizational structure can make or break an initiative. “Data integration will help state government more effectively make use of and deliver information and services within and across domains,” Art Stephens, Pennsylvania’s former CIO and now the governor’s deputy chief of staff, said in a press release. “This need crosses governmental levels, as well as domain, agency and organization boundaries,” Stephens added. “Establishing a clear governance model to achieve data integration across all domains is the best way to ensure that the transition is seamless and reliable.”

Stephens is chairman of NASCIO’s Interoperability and Integration Committee, which addresses issues related to public safety communications, spectrum management, data sharing and integration. The brief states that integration is about sharing information and attaining common business objectives across various agencies and jurisdictions. “Building a governance structure allows a stable process to be applied to unique integration requirements,” according to the brief. “Furthermore, governance enables the consideration of integration initiatives across the full spectrum of stakeholder participants.”

In short, addressing the problem of improving interoperability is a multi-stage process. Not only is it critical to address the interoperability question, something we have discussed in our report for the IBM Center for the Business of Government, but there is also the need to address the question of how an interoperable network will function over time and will actually share the data within legal other constraints.

This is an area where the EAC and NASED can play a critical role. In our IBM report, we note that the role of coordinating data exchanges is quite important. Today, there are many laws and regulatory constraints on sharing data and it may be helpful, at the outset, to determine how to align state laws so that data exchange can occur nationwide. Additionally, small pilot tests, where states develop some sort of informal or formal interstate reciprocity on data use, could also be helpful.