21 Jul, 2019 | 3 min read

A Citizen Centric e-Government Journey From Bhutan

  • Vichitra Godamunne
  • Associate Lead Marketing Officer - WSO2

Photo credits: Md Efthakhar UI Alam on Unsplash

Bhutan’s information and communications technology (ICT) policy is an integral part of the country’s holistic approach to socio-economic development. Their ICT journey began in 1999, with the introduction of the Internet. Since then, the country’s ICT infrastructure has reported significant growth, with mobile connectivity coming in at over 93% in 2018. The Royal Government of Bhutan’s Department of IT and Telecom (DITT) is responsible for framing the country’s ICT policy, developing ICT infrastructure, innovating, and promoting ICT as a whole. DITT uses the WSO2 Integration Agile Platform to provide online services in accordance with their citizen centric e-Government policy.

Centralized Infrastructure to Improve Efficiency

DITT began using WSO2 Enterprise Integrator (then named WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus) in 2010 to facilitate the provision of online services to citizens and extract information from the national citizen registry. They also began setting up a private network, which connects all government agencies from the center to the local level. DITT centralized their government infrastructure in one government data center to improve efficiency. Standards were also introduced, as various government agencies had invested in monolithic applications independently, without following any particular form of standards. “We believe that the greatest benefits from technology can be gained by the state if we make the optimal investment in ICT - rather than have every single agency investing in silo,” elaborates Jigme Tenzing, chief ICT officer at DITT.

Accordingly, the e-Government Policy of Bhutan is citizen centric and aims to strengthen the coordination and collaboration between government agencies. This e-Government policy is defined by the following:

  • It is digital by default - any new service, or reforms, relies on adopting technology.
  • ICT assets are shared to ensure cost-effectiveness and reduce any duplications and inconsistencies of data sharing.
  • Data owners are responsible for data collection, updating, and sharing - to avoid duplication and reduce errors/inconsistencies.
  • Information security and privacy are treated as a collective responsibility.
  • Business initiatives drive change requests and procurement of IT infrastructure.
  • e-Government projects work on a sustainable model for continuity.

A governance structure has also been implemented to manage, implement, and regulate this policy. This structure consists of a Review Committee, which is a technical body comprised of technical professionals who perform the initial review of systems and identify if there are any issues with maintaining consistency, and whether or not an investment needs to be made in the first place. Then there is an Executive Committee, which decides on financial/budgetary concerns and manpower, above which is a Government Council made up of government secretaries who communicate with the Cabinet.

One Government Approach

This approach is underscored by the need to provide a single platform, which citizens utilize to access services from the government with a single sign-on mechanism. This architecture’s information exchange layer is built by using WSO2’s integration and analytics products and identity management is managed by WSO2 Identity Server. WSO2’s integration platform - WSO2 Enterprise Integrator - provides a centralized enterprise service bus (ESB) with data and process integration, along with B2B integration capabilities. The analytics platform - WSO2 Stream Processor - understands streaming SQL queries in order to capture, analyze, process, and act on events in real-time; facilitating streaming data integration and analytics. WSO2 Identity Server is optimized for single sign-on and identity federation, with comprehensive support for strong authentication.

Data access is provided as APIs (and not via the integration layer). Hence, the architecture also consists of WSO2 API Manager (which provides full lifecycle API management, application development, access control, and rate limiting) to allow data access, after authentication by WSO2 Identity Server. This architecture also consists of other open source tools in addition to WSO2. “We still have some work to do, particularly identifying the custodians of data, but we have a lot of expectations from this architecture,” concludes Jigme.

To learn more about Bhutan’s e-Government journey, watch Jigme’s presentation on the topic.

WSO2’s integrated platform provides open source technologies for API management, enterprise integration, identity and access management, and streaming analytics. Learn more about us here.