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Achieving a modern ICT standardisation policy

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CAMSS – Common Assessment Method Standards and Specifications

When is this action of interest to you?

You want to use ICT standards or specifications in procuring and implementing your regional, national or cross border ICT services. You would like to make sure that you choose the best available ICT standards or specifications to fulfill your business needs. CAMSS will provide you with a comprehensive method to help you in the assessment of ICT standards and specifications.

What is this action about?

The assessment of standards and specifications for eGovernment solutions is currently organised on a national basis, e.g. within the context of Member States’ National Interoperability Frameworks. 

"CAMSS" is an initiative to promote collaboration between EU Member States in defining a "Common Assessment Method for Standards and Specifications" and to share with other countries the assessment study results for the development of eGovernment services.

In this way interoperability between EU Member States in the area of eGovernment will be expanded through the sharing of information and knowledge, the alignment of national processes and by reusing best practices. It will also speed up the assessment processes and reduce their cost throughout European public administrations.

The use of the CAMSS by Member States will help promote transparency in the choice of eGovernment solutions and standards. It should also lead to a more efficient use of public funds via sharing and reuse among eGovernment projects.

Other benefits include less duplication of efforts and improved efficiency and expertise.

What are the objectives?

Establishing and maintaining a framework for assessing interoperability standards and specifications.

The framework will:

  • provide European administrations with a well-defined and easy-to-use framework and method for assessing ICT interoperability standards and specifications;
  • the framework will ensure that assessments of ICT standards and specifications can be made faster, easier and with higher quality;
  • nable the reuse, in whole or in part, of such assessments.

What are the benefits?

  • Ensuring greater transparency throughout the selection of standards in the context of ICT strategies, architectures and interoperability frameworks through a commonly agreed assessment method, assessment process and a list of assessment attributes.
  • Reducing resource and time requirements and avoiding duplication of efforts. (Partial) sharing of finalised assessments of standards and specifications.
  • Enabling easier and faster assessments and a common library for standards means greater efficiency and cost savings as well as enhancing expertise of civil servants evaluating standards and specifications.

Case Study - What's going on in Europe?

Some Member States have developed their own measures regarding CAMSS. The European Commission has analysed these for the development of the European version.

The standard evaluation process of the Dutch Standardisation Forum

The goal of the Dutch government policy on open standards is to promote the interoperability of the Dutch public and semi-public sectors. In order to attain this goal, the Standardisation Forum and Board were established in 2006. These institutions do not develop standards, but can assign a status (required or recommended) to existing standards. The Board and Forum maintain the following two lists:
1) List of open standards for which a ‘Comply or Explain’ regime is in place.
2) List of recommended common open standards.

Inclusion in the ‘Comply or Explain’ list means that the Board members have committed to use the standard within their own organisation, and at the same time call upon third parties to also use the standard.

Inclusion in the list also means that all government bodies and semi-governmental bodies are required to adjust their procurement process to the list. When organisations procure an ICT service or product, they are required to choose one of the applicable open standards from the ‘Comply or Explain’ list (‘comply’). Only if this leads to insurmountable problems may an organisation choose otherwise. However, in this case the annual report must provide reasons as to why the different choice was made (‘explain’).

What are the benefits obtained?

Applying the new process provided us with a number of benefits:

  • A steep increase in participation: more and more new standards are submitted for assessment (from only a few per year to over 15-20 standards) by different organisations.
  • Several conflicting standards have been merged because our assessment method showed that they were overlapping, and in order to be accepted conversion was necessary.
  • Standards that are on our list are now recognised as the standards for a certain functional area.

Was there a reduction in errors or complaints?

Before the implementation of the new process, there was always uncertainty as to whether the standard was the preferred government standard or not. There was limited transparency and ad hoc decision making, resulting in lots of complaints, vendors who did not want to cooperate etc. With our new procedure it is absolutely clear when, how and who makes the decisions. This creates trust and support among the different stakeholders involved.

Did you face any challenges regarding interoperability? If yes, how did you address them?

Not really. Our approach mostly fostered interoperability due to the use of uniform standards. However, one interoperability issue is the existence of different versions and different implementations of the standard. Another is the lack of actual use of some standards.

What was the cost of development?

The cost for developing the original process and criteria was around EUR 150 000. Since then we have been constantly busy improving it which took quite some time and effort. Evaluating one standard costs around EUR 30 000.

How much time did the development take?

It took us some three months to develop the first version.

Have you reused existing software/ tools/ building blocks? If yes, which ones?

Yes, we reused already existing concepts, especially from our Danish and Belgian colleagues. Later on we also used the CAMSS criteria.

Do you have any recommendations for other public administrations that would like to implement your measure?

Copy or reuse what we have already developed. Focus on involving stakeholders, transparency and openness.

Contact: Joris Gresnigt, The Standardisation Forum Office, NL,


Project core data
  • Project start/finish:
    Q1/2011 to Q2/2015
  • Parties involved: European Commission (DG Informatics; DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology; DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs)
  • ISA contribution: EUR 580 000

Contact the Programme Manager - ISA Action 20200

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