The Ministry for Investment, Industry and Information Technology has concluded an agreement with Oracle to extend the e-Government framework to include the Oracle technology stack.
This development broadens the capabilities of the e-Government infrastructure that has so far been only based on Microsoft technology stack. Opening to Oracle technology will allow the development of new services and applications based on open standards.
Before the extension to include Oracle technologies, the Maltese eGovernment framework could handle around 65% of the current market activity in the development of applications. Oracle broadens that accessibility to cover around 85% of the market. Oracle is a world recognised proprietary technology that is fully compliant with European standards that drive towards open standards.
This creates greater flexibility in the development of services allowing the Government to afford to provide a wider spread of complex services over the Internet.
Local and international suppliers can provide a broader competitive base when submitting offers to the Government for delivering services allowing the public sector to procure from a wider choice of options and inevitably to be able to acquire more value for the same money.
The framework will now be using the Oracle Database 10g and the Oracle Application Server 10g. This technology is used to support two-thirds of all public sector data in the European-Middle East-Africa region.
This development is bound to encourage local suppliers of systems to upgrade their human and internal resources to be in a position to provide systems developed on Oracle technology. This will continue to enhance the competitiveness of the local ICT industry that will be better placed not only to supply its largest local client – the Government – but also to expand on a regional basis.
This agreement was made possible by the Vertical Strategic Alliance between the Government and Oracle. The agreement also commits Oracle to provide the Government’s technological arm – MITTS Limited – with training for its staff to be maintain and manage systems developed on Oracle technology. Apart from broadening the exposure of MITTS staff to new technological options, this training will ensure their weaning from supplier-dependence.
The alliance with Oracle is consistent with the Government’s policy to expand the e-Government framework to open source technologies. The Government’s explicit policy is not to be bound to any one form of technology that, however broad-based and popular it may be at any time, may risk driving the national infrastructure into an expensive and blind alley.
Indeed the physical infrastructure on which the e-Government framework is grafted had been designed from the outset to sustain the upgrading to other technologies as it is now being upgraded to exploit Oracle technologies. This development will in fact require no further investment in infrasrtuctural facilities. The current set up is also sufficiently robust for future potential expansion into open source technology stack. The Government is keeping a close eye on developments in this area that, should its viability be convincingly proven, cover the great bulk of the remaining market for developing technologies.
Minister Austin Gatt remarked that this new development will allow Malta’s public sector to keep its leading edge in the European standards of public services provision. “Citizens have come to expect to interact with the Government from their own homes any time of day or night. For the Government to continue to afford to provide these services and to continuously upgrade them we must be equipped with the most flexible options possible to provide services as cheaply and as efficiently as existing technologies allow.”
The Maltese e-Government programme has consistently been on the leading edge in European term. The basic infrastructure that underpin the service have been on the forefront of the European program to develop services freely available nationwide. The local eID system is, with the Belgian system, one of the only two in Europe to provide nationwide coverage for an electronic identity scheme. Malta is also alone with the UK to be rolling out during 2006 a nationwide agency system allowing citizens to be represented by others when acquiring electronic services.
This infrastructure forms the background for a varied menu of good quality services that is due for completion by early 2007. These services include Mobile Government, launched in 2003 and the On Line Vehicle Licence Renewal that will be launched later in 2006. Both services have been recognised as Europe-wide good practice models.
“Oracle is delighted that the MIIIT has decided to extend its e-Government framework to include Oracle technologies,” remarked Alfonso Di Ianni, Senior Vice President for European Enlargement and CIS Region. “Oracle has exceptionally strong experience in the public sector and two-thirds of all government data in the EMEA region is stored in an Oracle database. As such, we are best placed to help Malta achieve its e-government aims.”
“Our technology is also fully compliant with EU standards since it is based on open standards and includes advanced security features for addressing requirements in the areas of privacy and regulatory compliance,” Di Ianni concluded.