EU eGov Once Only - a failure by design. Suggest better ways
EU Commission indicate they will raise the "Once Only" principle to strategy without pursuing sustainable solutions.
A bigger mistake can hardly be conceived as it is a certain way to fail - both on economics, security and legally. It is also in unresolvable conflict with both EU Charter as well as numerous regulations and principles.
I would suggest a Pareto better approach is to provide citizens with tools to respond to requests for data or answers that know what data has been provided and is able to reuse data (from all sources) and provide answers that do not add linkability. I suggested this 10 years ago Nobel Week - eGov Trust
"Once Only" is the principle that citizens should only provide data to authorities once - and it is then the task of authorities to organize reuse of data to all purposes internally.
From a first reading "Once Only" may seem like good governance as citizens and companies hate being bothered with the same question and it creates double work.
The assumption of “Once Only” being good governance is, however, an illusion ignoring the obvious disaster created by choice and by design while hiding the real question.
The EU choice is based on reports like this (Characteristic for this report is that it has no reality checks or alternative considerations. The economics is cherry-picking not standing to even the lightest scrutiny)
But why is "Once Only" wrong?
Because it does imply 3 mistakes at the same time
1) Incompatible with security in public sector. The only way government can take responsible of using data for non-related purposes is if there is inherently no data security and thus citizens are stripped of all controls. Instead of providing data to the specific purpose, data is feed to general purpose public sector profiling. The choice thereby is not about citizen convenience, but a strategic choice to abandon all possibility of security in public sector - a mistake that can hardly be underestimated.
2) Reverse value chains. The inherent danger when providing data for statistics, research and administration is that such data will revert back into operational system thereby creating seriously negative Command & Control damage to the value system. If government officials assume they already know, they don´t ask and thus create structures that do NOT adopt to real actual needs and choice but force citizens to adapt to system assumptions, however wrong they may be. This create legacy on a grand scale making eGovenment increasingly more ineffective to provide value for money.
This is not only the lesson of former Eastern European regimes. This report is essentially based on scaling numbers fabricated by danish authorities to claim success, but the overall numbers don´t lie. As indication see e.g. Danish Statistics on productivity changes dropping steadily since IT-based centralized bureaucracy was introduced http://www.dst.dk/da/Statistik/NytHtml.aspx?cid=20274
3) "Once Only" creates unsustainable power structures. The assumption that public authorities is trustworthy and only wants to do what is good and legal fails to all historic tests and understanding of how systems operate. Such power structures become self-preserving and self-expanding always scanning for new "excuses" to act and justify their own existence. Without checks and balances bureaucracy will scale out of control and "Once Only" prevent such Checks and Balance based on citizens choice.
Everything gets linked the back-door way while the structure prevent needs-driven innovation. "Once Only" is an inherently destabilizing structure. Instead of becoming better at serving society, the structures will scale mistakes and failures until it cracks.
I claim that "Once Only" is not only a strategic governance mistake of epic proportions, but ignorant to better alternatives based on Citizen Empowerment.