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EC makes 1000+ IT specifications available for re-use


Increased interoperability and decreased IT development costs for Public Sector expected.

The European Commission has launched a new online service, making it easier to find and re-use specifications that have been used to develop information systems for governments. More than 1200 specifications are now accessible and searchable through the European Commission Joinup Portal at

The new service aggregates information from existing catalogues across the EU and makes them accessible at one single point. The service has been developed with the support of the ISA Programme, the European Commission’s programme to foster interoperability, sharing and re-use between European public administrations.

Who will benefit, concretely?

Governmental agencies developing information systems and software developers that have to develop specific government services can search for specifications that have already been drafted for similar applications and re-use what is of help to them. Two examples of specifications which can directly be re-used to develop computer systems that deal either with citizens' or with countries' data are the 'Schema for Birth Certificate Document', from the Greek Ministry of Administrative Reform and eGovernance and the ‘Countries name authority list’ from the EU Publications Office.

Re-using existing specifications when developing new government IT systems, instead of reinventing from scratch, helps government services in working together and exchanging information seamlessly. Moreover, re-use of existing specifications can help public administrations to reduce costs and development time considerably when developing new systems, which is of particular importance in the current climate of fiscal pressure.

Owners of specifications on the other hand can easily make their work available, which will increase the visibility and usage of their specifications as more users can find, download and use them.

Who has been involved in the development?

These specifications (also called semantic assets) have been drafted by public administrations from six EU Member States, two EU institutions, three standardisation bodies and four private IT organisations. The set-up of the search engine was made possible because all participating organisations agreed on using a common way to describe their specifications. This consensus has led to a new standard in the area, called ADMS. It started as a European Commission initiative and is currently evolving to an international standard in the World Wide Web (W3C) Consortium.

What is the future?

‘Re-use of these types of IT specifications is vital, to help European public administrations in creating interoperable IT systems where information flows freely across systems, sectors and borders’, says Ms Margarida Abecasis, Head of the ISA unit of the European Commission`s Directorate-General for Informatics. ‘This first step, federating semantic assets, will be followed in the coming months by other on-line federations of interoperability assets. We will keep you posted.’

Whom to contact for further information?