I. Overview of Philippine eGovFrame

The eGovernmentFramework (eGovFrame) is an innovative method for government agencies to acquire information regardless of source. The Philippine eGovFrame serve as a common software library containing abstraction of code that can be reused by developers of different government agencies.

To maximize the available resources, the eGovFrame uses an open source software (OSS) development framework. The OSS facilitates the application development based on open standards, which require the publishing of source codes for public use and give the user the full rights to reproduce, distribute, and modify the software. By this definition, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) shall have the right to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone in public and for any purpose. The open standards will improve the quality of software, allow more efficient application development, promote reuse of software modules, and eliminate technical dependencies on the framework of providers.

II. Open Innovation Model

There exists a collaboration and participation among government agencies, stakeholders, and private developers with regard to software development. However, the lack of standardized processes hampers the integration of related systems for increased efficiency and interoperability. The eGovFrame, which stores reusable binary functions for public use, aims to improve e-governance by adopting the Open Innovation Model.

Open Innovation, as defined by Henry W. Chesbrough who is the proponent of the concept, is the use of “purposeful inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate innovation” within the organization itself (internally) and between the organization and its environments (externally). The underlying principle in the Open Innovation Model is recognizing that good ideas cannot be all developed inside the company and that further development of the concepts need not happen within the company’s boundaries. In this sense, the Open Innovation Model encourages collaboration and sharing among agencies in order to come up with an idea or a product that will thrive in the market.

Adhering to this Open Innovation Model, eGovFrame Project shall implement a platform with standard architecture, interfaces, and processes. The Open Innovation Model will ensure that there is strong and formal governance in the “open ecosystems” of eGovFrame through the standardized processes: Open Sourcing, Open Processes, Open Outputs, and Open Ecosystem (refer to Figure 1).

1. Open Sourcing

The DICT, through the eGovFrame, seeks to promote collaborative effort among stakeholders through open sharing of knowledge. The eGovFrame will enable the integration of ideas and IT resources regardless of the diverse requirements and knowledge of the parties involved. The open source platform shall serve as a flexible open architecture that will adapt, enhance, and use the available OSS.

The open sourcing process creates standardized environments that will harmonize with the functionalities of eGovFrame. These standardized environments are runtime, development, management, and operations.

  • The runtime environment provides the common runtime platform for operating software applications.
  • The development environment provides support tools for the software development life-cycle.
  • The management environment provides support tools for the efficient maintenance of eGovFrame.
  • The operations environment provides rational tools for monitoring and operating software applications based on the runtime environment.

The next step is to identify and specify common components for the government-wide use through policy decisions relating to evaluation process and licensing. This will reduce dependency on specific vendors and conflict of interest with proprietary software. Figure 2 serves as a guideline in the identification of common components.

The last steps in open sourcing are the logical and physical tests. During this stage, the most suitable OSS for the desired architecture, specifically in the development environment, is selected. The development environment is composed of both OSS and software that are developed in-house.

Logical and physical tests must be conducted in accordance with the newly defined OSS evaluation process required under ISO/IEC 14958 (methods for measuring, assessing, and evaluating software product quality), ISO/IEC 9126 (software quality characteristics and metrics) and PECA (Plan, Establish, Collect, and Analyze). [2]

In listing OSS relevant to services, the following steps must also be considered (Figure 3).

The process will involve screening and selecting of appropriate and relevant OSS for the eGovFrame and will consider interfacing of systems and constraints in integration.

2. Open Processes

The key principle of open processes is communication.

In this stage, series of conferences and seminars will be conducted to collect extensive opinions from stakeholders, leading software suppliers, and small-to-medium-scale IT vendors. Their involvement in establishing the openness principle, designing the architecture, and creating the blueprint of eGovFrame will be of great advantage for the gathering of data and identifying best practices. The developers, in particular will benefit greatly from this activity because they will gain deeper insights from the competitor’s products, which they can use to improve their own development environments.

3. Open Outputs

The eGovFrame website will play a pertinent role in openness.

The eGovFrame website will be an open forum that will involve the developers, vendors, and stakeholders in implementing the common framework. All framework outputs and common components will be uploaded in the eGovFrame website and will be made available to various stakeholders. The outputs and components will also be protected with open license intellectual property rights (IPR). This IPR will also generate revenues to the companies that will provide paid-for complementary services for OSS.

In addition, offline conferences, seminars, and free training courses will also be conducted to develop and enhance the eGovFrame.

4. Open Ecosystem

The Open Ecosystem will establish an eGovFrame Open Source Community, which provides strong and formal governance. The eGovFrame Open Source Community will ensure that standardized eGovFrame architecture will be followed despite its openness.

Figure 4 summarizes the organization of the eGovFrame Open Source Community as well as the roles and responsibilities for these various groups.

The structure ensures that changes in source code can be made only by authorized persons despite the eGovFrame being shared openly. The members are appointed or promoted to a particular level by the DICT while members with higher positions have greater discretions on how eGovFrame should be maintained.

For example, if a developer posted a question in the OSS open community website, staff of the eGovFrame Center will answer the question in the same way as commercial vendors do on their websites.

Also, developers and users could participate in the newly launched OSS community, but only the “committers” could modify the source codes. The Committers are appointed by the Steering Committee composed of decision makers from the DICT. Aside from appointing Committers, the Steering Committee also oversees the OSS community.

The Steering Committee shall be supported and controlled by the Office of the Secretary, Project Management Committee, and the highest level committee.