July 15, 2022, I have been appointed by the cabinet of the Dutch government as a member of the Advisory Council ICT Assessments (AcICT), starting September 1st, 2022. I am happy, and honored, with this appointment!
The task of the council is as follows (my own translation):
The Advisory Council ICT Assessments judges risks and the chance of success of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) projects within the Dutch national government, and offers advice for improvement. It also assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of the maintenance and management of information systems. The council consists of experts, from academia and industry, who have administrative, supervisory and management experience with regard to the realization, deployment and control of ICT processes.
Ministeries submit any project with an ICT-component of over 5 million Euros to the council. Based on a risk assessment, the council subsequently decides whether it conducts an investigation.
Since 2015, almost 100 assessments have been conducted, on various domains. Recent examples include high school exams, governmental treasury banking, vehicle taxes, and the development process of the Dutch Covid-19 tracking app.
The resulting assessment reports are 7-8 pages long, centered around a number (typically three) of core risks, followed by specific recommendations (also often three) on how to address these risks. Example risks from recent reports include:
- “Key project results are not yet complete in the final stages of the project” (treasury)
- “An unnecessarily fine-grained solution takes too much time” (exams)
- “The program needs to realize too many changes simultaneously” (vehicle taxes)
The corresponding recommendations:
- “Work towards a fallback scenario so that the old system can remain in operation until the new system is demonstrably stable” (treasury)
- “Establish how to simplify the solution” (exams)
- “Reduce the scope” (vehicle taxes)
The assessments are prepared by a team of presently around 20 ICT researchers and research managers. When needed, external researchers with specific expertise are consulted. Assessments follow an assessment framework, which distinguishes nine risk areas (such as scope, architecture, implementation, and acceptance).
The assessments serve to support political decision making, and are focused on the Dutch parliament and ministers. For each assessment, the minister in question offers a formal reaction, also available from the council’s web site. This serves to help parliament to fullfil their responsibility of checking the executive ministers.
The council consists of five members, each involved part time (for one day per week), for a period of four years, each bringing their own dedicated expertise. For me personally, I see a strong connection with my research and education at the TU Delft, in such areas as software architecture, software testing, and developer productivity.
As a computer scientist, I consider responsible, transparent, and cost-effective digitalization of great importance for the (Dutch) democracy and society. The advisory council fulfills a unique and important role, which is closely connected to my interests in software engineering. I look forward, together with my new colleagues from the AcICT, to contributing to the improvement of the digitalizations of the Dutch government.
I am presently not aware of comparable councils in other countries, in Europe or elsewhere. If you know of similar institutions in your own country, please let me know!