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A government interoperability improvement framework

To leverage the power of a network form of organization government leaders must understand that not all organizations involved in a network need to have the same capabilities to achieve interoperability. They must understand the complementary and multi-dimensional nature of capabilities among the organizations in a network. They must also understand that while capability is specific to a setting, it is also dynamic and requires ongoing assessment to ensure that the capabilities held collectively by the network are relevant to and appropriate for the task at hand. To build this understanding, government leaders need a framework for assessing current capabilities and then using assessment results to guide capability development investment decisions.

A new model for assessing government interoperability maturity is presented in Table 4. This new model, comprised of three maturity levels, combines and simplifies the most relevant aspects of the maturity models presented earlier. These three levels of government interoperability are most appropriate for guiding a government in understanding and assessing its existing level of government interoperability in order to determine what additional types of capabilities need to be developed to achieve the desired or target level of interoperability.

Table 4. Government Interoperability Maturity Levels
Level 1
There may be evidence of interoperability within individual government organizations, but there is little to no evidence of any interoperability across agency or organizational boundaries. At this level, government agencies work independently and do not share information with other organizations; government or private sector. In addition, there is little evidence of the decision making, strategic planning, and resource and project management structures and processes needed to develop and manage ongoing or future initiatives requiring improved government interoperability.
Level 2
There is evidence of interoperability in specific policy or program areas. However, there is little evidence of interoperability across multiple networks (e.g. criminal justice networks can not share information with public health networks). In addition, while interoperability initiatives in these areas may be planned and managed in a consistent way, the process for selecting, controlling, and evaluating initiatives is not consistent or standardized across networks or at a governmentwide level.
Level 3
There is evidence of interoperability across multiple networks. For example, public health and criminal justice networks can effectively share information across their two networks in support of the larger policy goal of public safety. In addition, consistent and standardized processes and structures are in place to develop and manage government interoperability initiatives regardless of policy domains. As a result, existing networks can scale and apply resource sharing and process integration across multiple policy and program areas as needed, essentially creating new networks.

As outlined earlier in the Understanding risks and costs section of this paper, government agencies seeking to create government interoperability maturity need capabilities in two key areas.
  1. Developing and managing interoperability initiatives. This has to do with establishing government processes and structures to facilitate the development and management (i.e., planning, selecting, controlling, and evaluating) of government interoperability initiatives.
  2. Information sharing capability. This has to do with the ability of a network of organizations participating in a government interoperability initiative to successfully share information.