Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Service and Document Based Interoperability for European eCustoms Solutions

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Service and Document Based Interoperability for European eCustoms Solutions

Article excerpt


Innovative eCustoms solutions play an important role in the pan-European eGovernment strategy. The underlying premise is interoperability postulating a common understanding of processes, services and the documents that are exchanged between business and government organizations as well as between governmental authorities of different EU member states. This article provides a stringent approach for deriving documents and services from current eCustoms procedures based on the UN/CEFACT standards framework and for embedding these in a service oriented architecture for Collaborative eGovernment. In doing so, we put a special focus on document engineering by applying the UN/CEFACT Core Component Technical Specification (CCTS), a conceptual framework for modeling document components in a syntax neutral and technology independent manner. By relying on CCTS, we want to tackle the challenge of handling different document configurations imposed by divergent national legislations, different customs procedures (export, import, transit, and excise) and different industries. The resulting conceptual model is transferred to XML schema serving as a basis for Web Services design and implementation. These Web Services are designed for seamless interoperable exchange of electronic customs documents between heterogeneous IS landscapes both on business and government side. Beyond the theoretical deduction practical insights are gained from a European research project implementing the artifacts proposed in a real-world setting.

Key words: eGovernment, Interoperability, eCustoms, Standards, Service Oriented Architecture, Web Services

1 Introduction

1.1 eCustoms as a Main Pillar of the Pan-European eGovernment Strategy

Leveraging information and communication technology (ICT) in the field of public administration (eGovernment) is regarded as a mission critical factor for achieving growth and competitiveness in Europe [88] p. 2. Global competitiveness of businesses is significantly influenced by transaction costs incurred in dealing with public administrations [17] p. 21. In the process of creating the prerequisites for better and more efficient public administration, eGovernment is considered to be an enabler as it incorporates the use of information and communication technologies combined with organizational change in order to improve public services [17] p. 7.

At best, successful eGovernment solutions are intended to be beneficial to both public administrations and businesses [92] p. 345. However, eGovernment initiatives have to face the challenge of Business-to-Government (B2G) and Government-to-Government (G2G) integration, comprising seamless exchange of information, interoperation of independent eGovernment information systems, and coordination of governmental processes on the one side with information systems and processes of the economic operators on the other side [70] p. 889. This requires interoperability within or between organizations (be it public or private), nationally or across Europe [17] p. 19. In the following we will put our focus on seamless B2G integration. Regarding B2G, Krcmar and Wolf have introduced the notion of 'Collaborative eGovernment', which postulates seamless integration of eBusiness infrastructures of enterprises with information systems of administrations from an end-to-end process perspective [91] p. 179. More specifically, we will inquire the interaction between economic operators and government agencies in the context of European eCustom procedures.

Regarding eCustoms procedures, Baida et al. point out that crucial EU control procedures are still paper based [3] p. 12. Hence, new customs control procedures are required which can be supported much more effectively and efficiently by the use of IT. However, designing and implementing changes in customs control procedures has to take into account technological, financial and political issues and has to balance between greater security demands in international trade and reduction of administrative work. …

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