Chapitre Wallonie de l'Internet Society (Isoc Wallonie) Acteur pour l'Avenir de la Wallonie


eGovernment in Belgium

Sylvie Nigot
Researcher, CITA, FUNDP, University of Namur

Namur, 08.12.2001.

Comments related to the power point presentation "2001-12-08_Nigot-Sylvie_eGov_ppt"

Table of contents

Slide 2 : Contents
Slide 3 : Political intentions (1/2)
Slide 4 : Political intentions (2/2)
Slide 5 : Achievements/prospects (1/2)
Slide 6 : Achievements/prospects (2/2)
Slide 7 : Belgium Vs other countries
Slide 8 : Some questions

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Slide 2 : Contents

§          Political intentions : federal and regional levels (Wallonia)

§          Achievements and prospects : federal and regional levels (Wallonia)

§          Belgium Vs other countries : several surveys

§          Some questions

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Slide 3 : Political intentions (1/2)

Federal level 

1998 Agency for the administrative simplification
1999 Governmental declaration : “ une administration qui communique vraiment

Copernic plan
Commission relative aux entraves à la société de l’information

2001 Création du FEDICT
Cooperation agreement


è Agency for the administrative simplification – 1997, 1998

E-government is quite young in Belgium and at the federal level, we can find its basis in the creation of the agency for the administrative simplification.  This creation was agreed by the cabinet on April 1997.

This agency is in charge of the promotion and the co-ordination of the initiatives related to the administrative simplification. Its action is business oriented (and more precisely, middle-size businesses).

The goals of the agency, as expressed on paper, are the following ones:

§          To find a method for the calculation of the administrative costs imposed to the businesses by the federal administration;

§          It should propose a methodology in order to reduce these costs;

§          It will propose and promote initiatives aiming at the simplification of the administrative tasks;

§          It also has to organise the collaboration between different levels of power


Main Sources

§          Loi programme 10/02/1998 pour la promotion de l’entreprises indépendante.

§          AR du 23/12/98

§          Communiqué du 08/05/1998

§          Communiqué du 19/11/1998

§          Web Site: (Access to official websites –600 and online forms -200)


è Government declaration : “Une administration qui communique vraiment”, 1999

After the elections of June 1999, the new government makes a declaration named “the way towards the 21st century”.

In one of the section of this declaration, the government expresses its will to create an “administration who truly communicates”. To reach this goal, they want to lean on new information and communication technology.

Some of the projects to reach this goal are:

§          The implementation of administrative information and contact counters on a local level in collaboration with other levels of power;

§          Public authorities will be equipped with an integrated information system in respect of the private life;

§          One-Stop-Government accessible to all offering transactional services;

§          This OSG will also be a forum.

§          Etc.

This is the official political launching of E-government in Belgium at the federal level.


Main source:


è Copernicus reformation

the e-government is a long process presenting not only technical but also organisational challenges.

The reformation of the administration has also to be structural. The change of mentality, the internal organisation transformation and the administrative procedures modification are the goals of the Copernicus reformation.

The federal administration wants to provide a higher qualitative service. The reformation wants to inspire civil agents with a new motivation.

The reformation only aims at the federal level and will follow 4 axes:

§          A new Human resources policy

§          A new structure more transparent, clearer and more flexible

§          A new control system

§          A better communication

The planning is divided into 4 phases:

§          The planning itself of the reformation (which is already finished)

§          Ministries transition towards a new structure made of Federal Public services

§          Modification introduction into the FPS

§          Organisation chart elaboration

This is a summary of the reformation. It does not mean that the civil agents and the trade unions totally agree with it and that everything is going smoothly.

One of the main fear being the tendency to the privatisation induced by this reformation.


Main sources


è “Commission relative aux entraves à la société de l’information”

Created by the federal government on March 2000, the goal of this commission is to study the problems issued from the generalisation of the information society in Belgium.

This commission has to study, together with the public sector, the feasibility of concrete solutions to allow the citizen and the businesses to truly communicate using new information and communication technologies.

This commission gathers representative of all levels of the Belgian public administration, academic experts, private sector representatives, etc.

The objective of this commission is therefore to find, within two years, solutions to all the problems braking the modernisation and the accessibility to the public function. 

Two main subjects studied so far by the commission are the PKI implementation and the unique ID number implementation. Nothing has been done since then!


Main sources:

Communiqué 30/06/00
Communiqué 04/07/00



è Creation of FEDICT - 2001

E-government is not only about technology, I assume that everybody agrees about this but nonetheless, it needs strong technical bases anyway. These technological foundations will be conceived and developed by this new agency called FEDICT.

The FEDICT is in charge of the co-ordination, at a federal level, of every public projects involving the use of New information and communication technologies.

Service public federal Technologie de l’information et de la communication is in charge of:

§          developing a common strategy in the field of e-gov;

§          to verify the homogeneity and the coherence of the policy in this field;

§          to assist the federal public services in this field;

§          to develop the norms, the standards and the basis architecture;

§          to develop projects and services involving as much as possible all federal publics services;

§          to manage the collaboration with the other authorities 


Main Sources

AR du 11/05/2001



è Co-operation agreement

Most of the time, the citizen and the businesses see the public administration as a whole. The new technologies could give the opportunity to create a global virtual administration where all the different entities would be transparent to the user. To reach this objective, the different administrations have to work together, they have to co-operate.

On the 8th of August 2001, a co-operation agreement has been made official between the federal state, the communities and the regions. This agreement is about the building and the use of a common plate-forme.

This agreement proposes 5 main axes to work on :

§          The creation of a common portal ;

§          A middleware ;

§          A common use of the unique ID number (for Citizen and businesses);

§          The electronic ID card;

§          A general architecture of the administrative databases.            


Main sources:

Web site:

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Slide 4 : Political intentions (2/2)

Regional level : Wallonia

2000 “Contrat d’avenir pour la Wallonie”
2001 “Wall on line” programme


è “Contrat d’avenir pour la Wallonie”

This contract describes the action programme of the Walloon government.
The contract is about the common objective (to improve the life quality of the citizens).
It also talks about the method and the means to reach this goal.

Objective: To live in an active region, on its way to the lasting development, showing solidarity.

The government has defined four priorities to reach this goal:

§          A lasting economical development particularly through very small businesses and middle size businesses.

§          The speeding up of the development of the districts supported by Europe

§          The future of the youth

§          The knowledge society

Within the fourth priority, the Knowledge society, the region believes that the TIC are a driving element for the region.

They want to support the working in network in the institutions, the regional agents, etc. in order to promote the access to knowledge, to simplify procedures and the administrative burden and obstacles.

Different projects to promote the knowledge: diffusion of TIC:

§          In the schools: cyber-schools network

§          Within people, citizens

§          In the local and regional administrations  

§          In the enterprises

§          In the universities

§          In the region


Main sources:

Web site:


è Wall on line

The programme “Wall on line” has been launched by the minister-president of the walloon region:  on the 13th of June 2001.

The objective of this programme is to allow every citizen to communicate efficiently with the administration within a time period of 4 or 5 years.


4 phases towards the OSG:

§          Information

To provide information to the citizen or the businesses about specific subjects

§          Interaction

The site proposes some interactive services like intelligent forms, forums, email exchanges etc.

§          Transaction

One or several web sites grouped together in a OSG propose via an electronic from a treatment related to a specific action.

§          Transformation

Electronic services are fully integrated with the public administration services. The user can modify information related to him/her and these modification are automatically transferred to every services concerned.


Working methods, It’s an organisation in four levels:

§          Steering committee

§          Project team

§          Thematic groups

§          Project leaders


Great importance given to the equality of access to all as well as to security.


Main Sources:

Web site:

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Slide 5 : Achievements/prospects (1/2)

Federal level


National portal (1st draft)

All federal public services have a web site

Mainly administrative simplification achievements

Technological foundations


National portals (businesses, citizens)

E-government-plus (2003)




Ø       First of all, There is already a federal web site but not a transaction portal. It is informational.

Ø       All federal services also have a web site referenced in the federal web site.

Ø       So far, the most interesting projects have been made in the administrative simplification area. These achievements are not specifically visible through a web site. (even though one can find a list of these projects on the site of the agency for the administrative simplification.) Most of them have been made in the social sector and for businesses.

Ø       Technological foundations


Messaging Engine

Federal metropolitan area network

ID card/digital signature (BELPIC Belgian Personal ID card)

Unique ID Number



Once the technological have been implemented or at least the first version (the basic version of these foundations) the following projects will be implemented (and are already on tracks actually).

Ø       Two super portals (in 2002) (citizen, businesses)

Ø       E-government-plus: it is about the transition towards the generalisation of the electronic relation between all the actors (businesses, citizens, administration).

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Slide 6 : Achievements/prospects (2/2)

Regional level : Wallonia


Call centre: téléphone vert

Web site

Intelligent forms – 1st phase



Reorganisation of web site according to several themes

Intelligent forms – 2nd phase

Virtual OSG – life events.



Ø       Call centre (1989) – telephone vert

Administration closer to the citizen, unique access point or contact, accessibility to all. (Is it E-government??).

Ø       Web site

The web site offers :

A presentation of Wallonia

A presentation of the competencies of the Walloon region

The possibility to communicate via electronic mailing

The possibility to order publications

A search engine

Yet mostly informative

Ø       Administrative forms (2000)

Through the web site, one can access to some forms (available or presented via different themes). Few of them are already interactive.



Ø       New structure of existing web site according to a thematic approach:

Social action and health;

Agriculture and rural development;

Employment and training;




Ø       More intelligent forms on line;

Ø       Step by step, RW is going to the real virtual OSG. (with real interactivity with the citizen).

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Slide 7 : Belgium Vs other countries

§          Several surveys: Accenture, WorldMarketOnline, European commission,…

§          Some results


Fast overview of where e-government stands so far in Belgium. What are the others doing?

If we want to know, one way is maybe to have a look at the multiple surveys comparing e-gov developments in the different nations.


Several surveys

Accenture: “Rhetoric vs Reality – Closing the gap”

§          1st study in 2000, 2nd one in 2001;

§          22 countries;

§          Study what actions the national governments have taken to turn their vision into reality;

§          As it is said in the survey, the researchers “behaved as citizens and businesses and turned to the internet in an attempt to fulfil service needs that might typically be provided by national governments” (justice, defence, revenue, transport, e-democracy,…)

§          They examine the breath and depth of national services available online and through this study, hopes to show the government maturity

§          Belgium is 16th out of 22 (Canada, Singapore, USA, Norway)


World Markets Research centre

§          Global e-gov survey carried out in summer 2001 at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island;

§          196 nations;

§          Study of the features that are available online at national government websites (2288 sites). Measure of the information and services online;

§          Belgium is 18th out of 196. (US, Taiwan, Australia – Sweden far behind the Nepal, Jamaica and Lebanon)


E-Europe benchmarking

Measures the percentage of services online by the percentage of Internet users visiting government sites


Some results

Beside this ranking, I find some results interesting. I will take the example of the Accenture survey which expose some of the common characteristics of the E-government leaders as they call them. Some of these characteristics are :

§          Vision and implementation: They have the vision early and put in place the right mechanisms to support the agencies implementing e-government solutions;

§          Life-event organisation;

§          “The right infrastructure and implementation programme, with clear accountability for results is crucial”;

§          “The biggest misnomer about E-gov is that an agency has an E-gov strategy if it has a website”

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Slide 8 : Some questions

§          Utopian idea to compare countries?

§          Who knows the E-government definition ?

§          The citizen at the centre … solely on the paper?


è You don’t implement e-government if you only have a website.

However, all these surveys, using the term E-government in their title, measure the e-government progress by the number of Internet online services, the number of cyber users, the number of interactive services.

The approach should be more qualitative instead of quantitative.

But How to do so?


è What does really e-government mean?

Some examples of definition found on the net:

§          E-Government refers to the use by government agencies of information technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government.

§          Electronic government, or "e-government," is the process of transacting business between the public and government through the use of automated systems and the Internet network, more commonly referred to as the World Wide Web.

§          Electronic government (e-gov) refers to a situation in which administration, legislative and judicial agencies (including central and local governments) have accommodated their internal and external operations digitised and networked

§          eGovernment is the application of the tools and techniques of eCommerce to the business of government for the benefit of both government and the citizens and businesses that they serve.

The question is open! What is e-government? When you are using the new technologies to simplify a procedure in the back office with no direct contact to the citizen and no use of Internet, is that e-government?


è What about the citizen? (conferences, projects, papers, reports, etc. put him/her at the center but in the facts?????)

“As more and more services are put online, e-government will revolutionize the relationship between government and citizens” ???

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