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Modernizing e-Government: Four Principles for Choosing the Ideal API Platform

State and local governments today strive to transform their operations to break down silos, improve interagency collaboration and communication, and delight their citizens with access to streamlined and automated services. Unfortunately, transforming government operations can be like trying to turn an aircraft carrier— a slow, laborious process. When it comes to technology, public agencies and institutions are often committed to information systems that have been running for decades. Such legacy systems present daunting challenges to the goals of automation and digital transformation.

As a result, citizens typically must access multiple systems or government agencies simply to file an application or submit a service request; private institutions face the same hurdles. Siloed legacy systems also make it challenging for separate government agencies to obtain necessary information from one another.While governments have been trying to solve this silo problem for many years, the available solutions—including point-to-point integration techniques and data warehousing technologies—have come with problems of their own. Point-to-point connections can prove brittle, for example, and centralizing all data in a single location is a herculean task bound to create friction between organizational units.

Fortunately, the advent of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), microservices, and the ability to flexibly aggregate and orchestrate them are finally making truly interoperable systems a reality. APIs connect different systems and make collaboration possible. Modern API platforms enable APIs to be flexibly accessed, orchestrated, monitored, throttled, secured, and so on, to meet the wide-ranging needs of government agencies and their constituents.

API platforms can eliminate the need for data to be stored in a central repository; government agencies can continue to operate and control their own systems and databases while sharing information as needed— with the level of access and privacy they desire. Since each agency remains in full control of its own processes, data, legacy applications, and APIs, this new approach aligns perfectly with each agency’s organizational structure, governance, and culture.

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