Enabling Knowledge Sharing within E-Government Back-Office through Ontological Engineering

Article excerpt

Abstract

Nowadays, organizational innovation constitutes the government challenges for providing better and more efficient services to citizens, enterprises or other public offices. E-government seems to be an excellent opportunity to work on this way. The applications that support front-end services delivered to users have to access information systems of multiple government areas. This is a significant problem for e-government back-office since multiple platforms and technologies coexist. Moreover, in the back-office there is a great volume of data that is implicit in the software applications that support administration activities.

In this context, the main requirement is to make available the data managed in the back-office for the e-government users in a fast and precise way, without misunderstanding. To this aim, it is necessary to provide an infrastructure that make explicit the knowledge stored in different government areas and deliver this knowledge to the users.

This paper presents an approach on how ontological engineering techniques can be applied to solving the problems of content discovery, aggregation, and sharing in the e-government back-office. This approach is constituted by a specific process to develop an ontology in the public sector and an ontology-based architecture. In order to present the process characteristics, a case study applied to a local government domain is analyzed. This domain is the budget and financial information of Santa Fe Province (Argentine).

Key words: Ontology, Public Sector, Budgetary and Financial System, Knowledge Sharing

(ProQuest-CSA LLC: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1 Introduction

The term e-Government refers to the use of new technologies to transform public administration and to radically improve the services provided to citizens, enterprises or other public administration sectors. Nowadays, some initiatives related to e-government are focused on offering public services over the Internet through e-government portals without considering functional integration. Thus, to find the desired service, users must navigate over a huge number of websites that were designed using quite different criteria. Wherefore, it can occur either they do not find the service that might meet their needs or they must go over several links, which discourages their intention of solving their problem on-line.

Public administration must provide to users the correct information at the right time without making them waste their time. To this aim, organizational innovation through process redesigning and delivering interoperable services constitute the challenges that government must face. Then, providing integrated information is the key for delivering services that meet the community needs.

In the last years, information integration between heterogeneous information systems has attained significant improvements in the private sector. A replication of these advances to the public sector is questionable due to particular characteristics of public administration [33]. However, approaches proposed in this environment are based and grounded on private sector standards and initiatives, especially those referring to communications, libraries and business practices [13]. Then, adjustments of these advances to government organizations background must be made.

The problem of information integration brings about the emergence of the interoperability concept, its particular characteristics and its different aspects to consider: technological, organizational and semantic. The semantic aspect completes the information integration and exchange, because it provides the knowledge needed to appropriately use the data to be integrated. For this aspect, ontologies are becoming increasingly popular since they allow for delivering a shared common description of data that does not depend on the particular context of a data source, and can be freely communicated between information systems and people. …