Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council - IDA II Mid-Term Evaluation
/* COM/2003/0100 final */
REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL - IDA II Mid-Term Evaluation
The first phase of the IDA Programme (Interchange of Data between Administrations) was launched in 1995 through Council Decision 95/468/EC. The aim of the programme was to promote the electronic exchange of information between administrations, in order to support the functioning of the Internal Market and the implementation of a wide range of Community decisions . This first phase established a number of important telematic networks in areas such as employment, health, agriculture, fisheries, statistics and competition.
 The main objective of the IDA programme is to support the EU-level business of administrations, notably the implementation of Community policies, inter-institutional communication and Community decision-making process. IDA therefore serves the Community, with the administrations as the users of its networks and systems and the citizens and businesses of the EU as the ultimate beneficiaries.
The IDA Programme also contributed to facilitating inter-institutional communication and the Community decision-making process, e.g. via management of official documents and e-mail support for committees, and the operation of the European Agencies, e.g. in the pharmaceutical sector or through the connection of European environmental organisations. Furthermore, IDA acted as an important vehicle for the re-engineering of working processes of European administrations by means of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
1.1. IDA II DECISIONS
1.1.1. The second phase of the IDA Programme (IDA II) was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in their Decisions No 1719/1999/EC  (hereinafter the Guidelines decision),- on a series of Guidelines, including the identification of projects of common interest (PCIs) and No 1720/1999/EC  (hereinafter the Interoperability decision, providing the legal basis for Horizontal Actions and Measures - HAMs) of 12 July 1999.
 Decision No 1719/1999/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 1999 on a series of guidelines, including the identification of projects of common interest, for trans-European networks for the electronic interchange of data between administrations (IDA), OJ L 203, 3.8.1999, p. 1.
 Decision No 1720/1999/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 1999 adopting a series of actions and measures in order to ensure interoperability of and access to trans-European networks for the electronic interchange of data between administrations (IDA), OJ L 203, 3.8.1999, p. 9.
1.1.2. Recognising the need for European administrations to take best advantage of the new technological opportunities, IDA II was re-oriented with much greater emphasis being placed on market-orientation and interoperability issues. IDA II's rationale now is not only to maximise flexibility and minimise the costs of information exchange, but also to increase efficiency in the provision of online services by public administrations to citizens and enterprises, notably at the pan-European level.
1.2. AMENDMENTS TO IDA II DECISIONS
1.2.1. The IDA II Decisions have been modified by Decisions No 2046/2002/EC  and No 2045/2002/EC  respectively of the European Parliament and the Council. The modifications include references to the conclusions and recommendations coming from two major high-level events that took place in 2001, namely the Ministerial Conference on e-Government - jointly organised by the Commission and the Belgian Presidency of the Council, and the IDA-Swedish Presidency Conference 'e-Government in the service of European citizens and enterprises - what is required at the European level' in Sandhamn. The IDA II decisions now also have as one of the objectives of the Programme, the identification and deployment of pan-European e-Government services to citizens and enterprises.
 OJ L 316, 20.11.2002, p.4.
 OJ L 316, 20.11.2002, p.1.
1.2.2. This objective extends the scope of the IDA Programme, reinforcing its contribution to e-Europe 2005, in which e-Government is one of the priority areas. In parallel, the amendments lay the foundation for the integration of all Candidate Countries in the interchange of data between administrations, thereby facilitating their implementation of the acquis communautaire. Furthermore, the modifications support in particular the enhancement and operation of a secure communication infrastructure between public administrations across Europe and allow the IDA Programme to better support the European administrations in providing efficient online services and reducing the administrative burden on citizens and enterprises.
1.3. MID-TERM EVALUATION
1.3.1. Articles 9 and 13 respectively of the two decisions require the Commission to submit an evaluation of the IDA II Programme to the European Parliament and the Council, no later than the draft budgets for the year 2001, 2003 and 2005 respectively, together with any appropriate proposal for the amendment of the annex of the Guidelines decision and any appropriate proposal for the amendment of the Interoperability decision.
1.3.2. The IDA II mid-term evaluation was initiated in January and concluded by September 2002. The evaluation was performed by the Commission with the assistance of a team of independent experts, coming from a consultancy company (TietoEnator Trigon AB). The terms of reference and the progress of the work were discussed with the Member States at a series of ad hoc meetings of the Telematics between Administrations Committee (TAC). On the basis of the work performed by the consultants , the Commission finalised the results of the evaluation and, at the meeting of 03.12.2002, presented them for examination to the TAC, in accordance with the provisions of Article 9(3) of Decision No 1719/1999/EC and Article 13(3) of Decision No 1720/1999/EC.
 The final report of the consultants is available on the IDA web site http://europa.eu.int/ISPO/ ida.
1.3.3. The results of the IDA II mid-term evaluation are presented in this Report. These results will be used to enhance the implementation of the programme and serve as an input for the future Commission proposal for post-IDA II activities after 31 December 2004, the expire date of the IDA II Programme. This proposal will also be based on the context provided by the e-Europe 2005 action plan, in which IDA plays a key role in particular in relation to e-Government, as well as the results of the online consultation on "Pan-European e-Government services for citizens and enterprises: The role for IDA" and the outcome of the related conference of 19-20 September 2002.
2. GENERAL COMMENTS
The general comments made here are, to a large extent, based on the observations, conclusions and recommendations presented in the final report of the independent experts, which in return are based on investigations made and inputs received from several Member State administrations and Commission services (the observations, conclusions and recommendations were discussed between the experts, the Commission and the TAC at a number of ad hoc meetings).
The evaluation acknowledges that since the first evaluation of the IDA II Programme, the range of policy areas covered by Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) has considerably expanded, for example to the fields of humanitarian aid, food safety and civil protection, as well as security, freedom and justice. The use of Horizontal Actions and Measures (HAMs), in particular generic services (TESTA, CIRCA, the IDA PKI and the Architecture Guidelines), by PCIs has also consistently increased.
In general, on the basis of the results of the first and the mid-term evaluation and taking the above into account, the implementation of the IDA II Programme has shown a continuous progress since its launch on 3 August 1999. The number of beneficiaries among administrations has increased, while the benefits are not only limited to administrations, but gradually extending also to citizens and enterprises.
2.1. PROJECTS OF COMMON INTEREST
2.1.1. The PCIs must be seen as the HAMs' principal customers. One of the main conclusions from the first evaluation was that special effort must be applied by the Commission service managing the IDA programme (with the support of the TAC) to understanding the common requirements of the PCIs and, based on this, acquiring and/or developing suitable horizontal tools and services. In parallel, the other services and sectoral committees should accept active guidance and co-ordination from the IDA programme management and also contribute actively to the programme. Although already in place, this trend needs to be further encouraged if it is to become embedded into IDA II.
2.1.2. It is recommended that further work should be done to improve the communication within the IDA community, for the benefit of decision-makers and programme and project management, as well as through the spread of best practice and by means of people networking. In particular, the role and nature of the Global Implementation Plan (GIP) for sectors and sectoral committees, as well as for the rest of the programme should be reviewed in the light of the experience and feedback of producing the first set. Establishing an integral information and communication procedure and making sure obligations are clear from the start, are critical success factors for IDA funded projects.
2.1.3. Furthermore, it is recommended that IDA II should establish a consistent system laying down the criteria for continued funding and acting as a vehicle for monitoring, reporting and evaluating projects. The level of influence that IDA II can exert on actions initiated before it started is limited. However, it is still possible to assess them against programme objectives.
2.1.4. As far as monitoring and reporting are concerned, it is recommended to build measurable criteria in the annual reports on all projects activities (focusing on expenditure and achievements) and to further synchronise this process with the yearly work programme and budget allocation. In order to reduce the reporting requirements for the sectors, it is suggested to produce the yearly report on the uptake of the outputs of horizontal actions and measures by all sectoral projects (covering both IDA and other sectoral networks) on the basis of the annual reports. This will primarily assist sectors and sectoral committees to provide well-supported proposals to IDA.
2.1.5. The adoption of Work Programme entries, preparatory reports and GIPs runs through a process of "double" comitology, i.e. an initial examination by the relevant sectoral committee, followed by the opinion of the TAC. In order to make the sectoral committees better aware of their responsibilities in relation to IDA projects, it is recommended to let them not only examine the preparatory reports and GIPs concerned, but also to to be informed on the annual information reports - for their sector - to be submitted to the TAC under Article 8 2 of Decision No 1719/1999/EC. Sectoral committees will be informed by IDA accordingly. Whereas this approach has already been implemented, additional efforts should be made to strengthen it, despite the limited resources available.
2.1.6. The identification of the business case and measurable objectives, and the consequent and effective "instrumentation" of the projects, should be pursued with greater vigour, in combination with self-managed efforts on cost-benefit analysis to be used by sectors. This is an area where the Commission service managing the IDA programme should make additional efforts to offer active assistance for the sectors. It is especially important that, independently from policy requirements, the business case for the technical developments be identified and followed up.
2.1.7. Through the Decisions and the GIPs, IDA has already encouraged sectoral project managers to extend their horizon to the operational phase that follows implementation. In principle, IDA funding is not available for this phase, however, sectoral projects are able to continue making use of IDA generic services. The transition to the operational phase and the implication of this need to be better worked through. A related recommendation in this context is to attempt to reduce the average lifetime of PCIs in the IDA Programme by putting a limit on the development and pilot-implementation phase (e.g. 2 or 3 years).
2.2. HORIZONTAL ACTIONS AND MEASURES
2.2.1. Whereas the quality of the section on HAMs of the Work Programme has each year gone through continuous improvements, it is recommended to include an overall description of the organisation surrounding each HAM, as well as the responsibilities and mandates of all parties concerned. Furthermore, it is recommended to regroup the HAM-activities in the section of the work programme in order to attune the structure better to the needs of IDA's customers (administrations, citizens and enterprises).
2.2.2. At the level of the individual entries, one should include a clear indication of measurable benefits and objectives. In this context, it is also recommended to categorise in development activities and operational activities, accompanied by a budget breakdown into these categories. This would facilitate follow-up of budget, in particular expenditure on new functionalities and services.
2.2.3. There should be a continuously maintained register (matrix) of the HAM outputs and the projects that use them, incorporating contact details for the IDA and sectoral project managers. Following on the TESTA achievements with networking services, as well as the significant increase in users of CIRCA group working applications, this register would need to keep delivery to sectoral customers firmly in mind. The "spread of best practice" activity could help in this respect, building on the provision of the existing catalogue of IDA generic services and catalogue of IDA common tools and techniques.
2.2.4. Committing funds should be seen much more strongly as just one (significant but early) milestone in a project, rather than in some sense the endpoint. Actions and measures should report on achievements in relation to the expenditure that applies to a specific reporting period. The Commission wishes to underline here that as a point of principle for the future evaluations, each HAM-activity should be encouraged to conduct periodic reviews or surveys of user satisfaction and that the results should be collated into a programme summary.
2.2.5. It is recommended to clearly define and formalise follow-up on generic services, both in terms of customer satisfaction and costs in relation to benefits. TESTA serves as a good practice in serving the user community with regular follow-up. Defined measures, such as user satisfaction surveys and cost-benefit analyses, should be applied across the board. These measures aim at serving the users, as well as the TAC as a basis for taking decisions. Whereas some user satisfaction surveys have been executed in key areas (TESTA and CIRCA), it is recommended to widespread the use of this type of instrument and to explore the possibilities for proper cost-benefit analyses in relation to generic services.
2.3. IDA PROGRAMME MANAGEMENT
2.3.1. It is recommended that IDA continues to do everything possible to reduce the size and complexity of procedures and documents, within the constraints imposed by the IDA Decisions and official Community procedures. Some elements are likely to be immutable, but other aspects are more under IDA's control. In particular, the procedures should be streamlined in order to reduce administrative overhead. At the same time, however, reporting should be improved by a more regular collection of basic information, notably on the status of projects and actions.
2.3.2. On the national co-ordination within the Member States, the Commission takes the view that the role of the Telematics between Administrations Committee (TAC) is crucial. Some TAC members are better connected than others to all sectors in their country. Effective programme management requires that this "people network" in each country be strengthened where possible. The Community cannot insist on this point, given the principle of subsidiarity. However, it has facilitated this by making up-to-date lists of sectoral representatives available to the TAC. It is recommended to conduct such collection and dissemination routinely in future.
2.3.3. The process leading to the adoption of the Work Programme is still long and the approval late, to a large extent due to the complex formal procedures. Whereas it is understood that this is related to the different steps of the formal procedures and to the late adoption of the first IDA II Work Programme in November 1999 as a consequence of the late entry into force of the IDA decisions (August 1999), efforts should continue being made every year to anticipate the adoption. There is a need for a more strategic focus, notably in terms of consultation of stakeholders (other than national administrations), in order to meet new demands. An overall strategy in the Work Programme for the entire IDA II duration, especially as regards the HAM section of the Work Programme, should be considered.
2.3.4. There is a very good level of cooperation between the Member States and the IDA team, and much competent, conscientious technical project management being conducted within the IDA community. The total pool of knowledge and expertise is impressive, and the opportunities that IDA can bring for cross-fertilisation in this respect are among its great strengths. Effective technical project managers have established a good understanding of the business, good links to the user community and high-level user management commitment. This approach is underpinned by the IDA Decisions and by the GIPs, but IDA can actively advise on how to make it happen, by drawing on the useful experience of expert and project group meetings that report to the TAC Working Group on Horizontal Actions and Measures (TAC/WHAM).
2.3.5. One has to remark here however, that changes in the focus and orientation of the IDA Programme as a result of the amendments to the IDA decisions, may demand changes in the organisation and allocation of resources, as well as new and/or complementary types of expertise.
2.4. FUTURE ORIENTATIONS
2.4.1. During the mid-term evaluation process, IDA stakeholders (project officers, sectoral project managers and TAC members) have been asked by means of questionnaires and interviews about their opinion on the expected future for the programme. The questions were related to the following issues:
- e-Europe 2005 - Pan-European e-Government services;
- Amendments to the IDA Decisions;
- Enlargement (participation of Candidate Countries in IDA);
- The possibility for non-member countries to use IDA generic services.
2.4.2. In parallel, a discussion paper was produced on the issue of pan-European e-Government services, with the aim of highlighting potential risks to the use of these services by trans-border users. The paper also addresses the necessity to ensure that the development of e-Government services is congruent with Single Market objectives as well as to promote their provision through multiple channels and in line with the needs of the "customers" (citizens, enterprises or administrations). The discussion paper was the subject of an online consultation, of which the conclusions were subsequently discussed at the conference "Pan-European e-Government services for citizens and enterprises: The role for IDA" (hereinafter referred to as "IDA Conference") of 19-20 September 2002.
2.4.3. The comments from the IDA stakeholders and the various organisations that replied to the open consultation will be used as an input for the discussion on post-IDA II activities in terms of a new Community programme on pan-European e-Government services to administrations, citizens and enterprises, covering the period 2005-2009. The discussion should address issues such as the challenges ahead of the EU and the necessary commitments (notably in relation to the integration of the pan-European dimension in national e-Government strategies), scope and objectives of the new programme, forms of participation of national administrations and other stakeholders, strengthened role for IDA horizontal actions and streamlining of the procedures, in particular in relation to the preparation of Work Programmes.
2.4.4. With reference to the provision of pan-European e-Government services to citizens and enterprises, among the important issues for policy-makers provided as input is the need:
- To categorise these services on the basis of their functions and ensure that the pan-European dimension is taken into account, when any of these categories of services are developed at the national level;
- To define clearly policies and specifications for interoperability and information management in the context of a pan-European Interoperability Framework (this would be a key component of a future e-Government service strategy);
- To promote and/or deliver the pan-European e-Government services at the regional and local level. This would strengthen the involvement of regions and local municipalities and, due to the customer proximity and familiarity, increase the take-up of these services.
2.4.5. Finally in relation to the mechanisms applicable to a new programme, it is recommended to include a defined financial framework for the whole duration of the programme and determine budget allocation for larger projects over more than one year, as well as to perform the budget allocation in connection with natural project milestones. This latter would increase the efficiency in the projects and activities, while funding decisions could be made for the whole project lifetime and funds would be released at the defined project milestones. This would possibly also change the demand for project information and documentation during the project lifetime. Instead of full Work Programmes, more exception-based reports could be issued, decreasing the workload for project managers/officers and TAC-members. With regard to future potential bigger and longer projects, it would be important to develop further the synergies between IDA and the Commission services dealing with e-government within the IST programme, in order to enhance complementarity.
3.1. The Commission considers the mid-term evaluation results a useful assessment of the IDA II Programme as a whole and the projects and actions launched under it. These results are, to a large extent, based on the conclusions and recommendations of the final evaluation report produced by the external consultant and serve as a baseline for the coming evaluation, to be carried out in 2004.
3.2. In parallel with the mid-term evaluation and immediately after, steps have already been taken: In the context of IDA quality assurance, activities have started to include criteria related to the definition of project milestones and measurable benefits in the template for the GIP. In parallel, a Dashboard has been set up to measure progress in relation to the HAM-activities. Furthermore, a detailed guide for advice to the sectors was drawn up during the second half of 2001, clearly stating every step needed in the application process for IDA funding, while in the field of the HAMs a catalogue of IDA common tools & techniques has been put together.
3.3. In support of the e-Europe 2005 action plan and in line with the new IDA objective of identifying and deploying pan-European e-Government services to citizens and enterprises, several actions have been launched. In this context, one can refer in particular to the launch of the portal of the EU administration (public services.eu) at the IDA Conference.
3.4. Regarding citizens and businesses, IDA II should continue to ensure and verify that citizens and enterprises benefit from IDA networks, as well as to encourage the introduction of citizens and enterprises as users wherever possible. In the context of the e-Europe 2005 action plan, and taking into account the subsidiarity principle, IDA should promote direct access to Government's information and contribute to a reduction of the administrative burden on citizens and enterprises, as well as to the provision of pan-European e-Government services. Further to the open discussion at the IDA Conference, consideration should be given to how IDA will maintain appropriate consultation links with different tiers of Government, enterprises and citizens.
3.5. Specific actions identified in the IDA II mid-term evaluation process and to be carried out in the period until 2004 (also in the light of the new IDA Decisions) concern:
- Further strengthening of the assistance from the IDA team to the different sectoral administrations participating in the programme;
- A review of the monitoring/reporting mechanisms for both PCIs and HAMs;
- Emphasis on cost-benefit analysis for both PCIs and HAMs;
- Establishing a description of an infrastructure, which shall serve as a platform for the development of PCIs and Other Sectoral Networks (OSNs);
- Continuing the organisation of tutorial sessions/information days in both the Member States and the Candidate Countries;
- Keeping an open dialogue with all stakeholders concerned on pan-European e-Government services to citizens and enterprises.
3.6. Based on the mid-term evaluation and the experience gathered during four years of the IDA II programme, as well as the context provided by the e-Europe 2005 action plan and the results of the online consultation process/outcome of the IDA Conference, this Report will serve as an input for the future Commission proposal for post-IDA II activities after 31 December 2004, the expire date of the IDA II Programme.