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Category Archives: EU

Since yesterday the candidates for the new EU commission take place in the European Parliament. Disapointingly even the most important German TV news like tagesschau and tagesthemen produced by the public TV station ARD didn’t devote more than a few seconds to it. Even the bit of snow that covered Germany got more attention in the news. Thus I decided today I gonna use online live-stream of the hearings with limited success.

As chrome became my standard browser on my MacBook it was obvious that I try the stream first using my favourite settings: Chrome on a Mac. The result was disappointing, neither did I receive a video nor audio livestream. Trying firefox gave the same result. Only Safari worked quite well. I received the audio and videostream in a somewhat decent quality. Unfortunately I got all languages at once. I felt like watching modern Babel at work. There were no options to select just one language. Hence it didn’t increase transparency except you wonder how politicians look like but that wasn’t what I was interested in.

I really would have loved to listen to Vivine Reding (Justice and Fundamental Rights), Joaquín Almunia (Competition), Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda), Maroš Šefčovič (Inter-institutional Relations and Administration), Janusz Lewandowski (Budget and Financial Programming), Olli Rehn (Economic and Monetary Affairs) and Algirdas Šemeta (Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud) as I am especially interested in their fields. However, the EU tried and at least for me as a Mac user failed to provide a useful live-stream or was the Babelonic audio-stream on purpose?

While the last post addressed transparency among MPs this one addresses transparency among processes in the public sector.

The Directive on Services in the Internal Market requires EU members to provide the option to handle some bureaucratic processes online by 01/01/2010.

With just a few days to go Dataport (the joint IT devision of the two German states Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg) announced it won’t be able to offer all services as planned. According to (in German) the software vendor SAP was unable to deliver new infrastructure modules in time. However, Dataport said all required services will go online in time, despite the missing modules, using a limited infrastructure. It is reasoned that the project was outsourced to India and this might have caused the failure. As a consequence Dataport terminated the contract with SAP for this project.

Outsourcing offers a lot of gains for each party involved. However, the main rule I experienced during the course of my studies is: processes need to be well defined when handing them over. Whereas the private sector strives to maximize profits, public sector implements policies. These policies are usually qualitative in their goals. Public servants have a margin how to interpret and hence how to implement the policies and might have an own (hidden) agenda they pursue. Thus it defining process properly becomes more challenging.

You might argue that IT infrastructure is something that is not political. It shouldn’t be, I agree. But: public sector differs not just w.r.t. goal definition but also how prestige is defined. In private business the main indicator to measure prestige is income whereas in the public sector it is power. Power is a mix of budget, people to manage, contact to high ranking politicians and other aspects. Hence infrastructure and its setup is political by nature as it determines who will control it and by this will gain power. This aspect increases the challenge to define clear processes and goals for this particular case and for many others.

To sum it up, the challenges in outsourcing public sector processes is in defining clear processes. To overcome the current shortcomings politicians should define KPIs already when enacting a new law. To make outsourcing a lasting success story for the pubic sector private parties involved have to be aware of this and ensure clear communication. Doing so can be beneficial for citizens as outsourcing can save millions of taxpayers money. Also another goal can be reached by defining processes clearer: Increasing transparency!

Browsing todays tweets I stumbled upon one of Reinhard Bütikofer, MEP stating that he met the following organizations, interest groups and lobbyists within the last months.

Actually a few month ago I discussed with a good friend whether it would be useful to force every MP to publish whom they talked. This could increase transparency for voters to see whether a MP talked to all or just a biased selection of stakeholders. I could imagine a NGO such as Transperancy International to collect this data and analyse it as well. It most certainly could provide data for many bachelor, master and phd-dissertations with(interesting?) results.

Until there is no one who collects such data I am thankful for anyone who delivers them on a voluntary basis. Hence I really appreciate Reinhard Bütikofers move and hope many politicians will follow.