EU Science Hub

An Application Programming Interface (API) framework for digital government

Abstract: 

The digital transformation of society obliges governments to evolve towards increasingly complex digital environments. These environments require strong coordination efforts to ensure a synergistic integration of different systems and actors. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the connective nodes of digital components and thus instrumental enablers of this integration. Yet today, the integration of digital components is often done on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, disregarding the potential value-added for the whole digital environment. This work proposes a framework for a cohesive API adoption in government environments. The framework is distilled from the analysis of an extensive literature review conducted on government API adoption practices to date. The output of this analysis identifies actions to be taken by governments to improve their API infrastructure and related organisational processes. The framework offers 12 ‘proposals’ arranged around four organisational pillars, namely, policy support, platforms and ecosystems, people, and processes. Actions are then organised into the three levels of organisational management, i.e. strategic, tactical and operational. Motivations, implementation details and a self-assessment checklist are provided for each of the proposals. Given that the maturity of digital government structures is uneven, the framework has been designed to be flexible enough to help governments identify the specific actions they need to focus on. The work outlines the basis of an API maturity assessment tool.