Establishment and Platform for an E-government System and its Security

Tom Worthington FACS HLM

Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

For the delegation from the Ministry of Information Industry, P.R. China, Canberra, November 2003.

This document is version 1.0, 21 November 2003:


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Electronic Government (E-government) is the application of networked computer technology to deliver government services. Information technology has not significantly changed the process of government, just its implementation. The current approach is to use web and Internet based technology. Security technologies must be used to keep government information secure. Also the basic requirements for good record keeping always needed by government must be maintained.

The e-government systems currently being implemented are based on technologies popularised for commercial applications. These technologies were developed by the academic and research communities ten years ago. Government can accelerate the progress of development by applying the latest developments in Grid technology directly to government, without waiting for their use in the commercial world.

IT for building complex government systems is now commonly taught to university undergraduate university students. The web browser can be used as a common interface for applications. Accessible web design can be used to provide a flexible interface for wireless devices as well as desktop computers and allow for easy translation of the interface into other languages.

This presentation gives some examples of the technology. There are links to source documents with details.

Internet and the Web - Platforms for Government

Hardware and Networks

Australian Governments developed centralised mainframe computer applications which were later connected to remote input and output devices and then terminals via dedicated computer networks. The Internet does not greatly change this design, providing a more standardised way to connect systems. The web provides a standardised user interface for government applications. Government systems can now be built from clusters of mass produced, low cost PC hardware, rather than low volume expensive mainframe hardware. But the equipment holding important government information and functions must still be physically protected in specially designed computer centres. The links from government systems can now run via the public Internet, but require protection using cryptographic devices. Interfaces between government systems and the public require gateway machines and firewalls for protection of information.

Some points:

  1. Do not place important information on desktop computers: Desktop computers can be stolen, damaged or not properly maintained. Important information should be stored on remote data servers, under guard in specially secured facilities.

    TWO men have been arrested over the theft of two computers from Sydney airport's intelligence centre, federal Justice and Customs Minister Chris Ellison has said.

    Earlier this month, Australian Customs confirmed two computer servers were stolen from the Customs cargo processing and intelligence centre on August 27.

    Today, Senator Ellison said a 19-year-old man and a 24-year-old man, both from Canley Vale in Sydney's south-west, had been arrested overnight. ...

    From: Two arrested over Customs PCs, Australian IT, SEPTEMBER 18, 2003, URL:,7204,7300972%5E15319%5E%5Enbv%5E,00.html

  2. Locate Computer Centres Remotely: Computer centres need not be located in expensive and vulnerable inner city office buildings. The computers can be at low cost outer industrial areas. These can be low cost modified pallet warehouses with a concrete floor and steel walls. The roof can be used for electricity generating solar collectors. Only maintenance staff need know the location of the data centre. Its location should not be advertised and visitors should not be permitted.

    Photovoltaic Trough Concentrator System

    Parabolic mirrors track the sun on a single axis and reflect light onto a strip of high efficiency solar cells at about 35 times the normal solar intensity's solar cells convert about 20% of the sunlight into electricity. The balance of the solar energy is converted into heat, which is removed by water flowing in a channel behind the solar cells. The resulting hot water is collected for use in the building on which the system is mounted. Total solar conversion efficiencies above 60% are being achieved.

    From: Combined Heat and Power Solar (CHAPS) Concentrator System, Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSES), The Australian National University, 2003, URL:

  3. Build Integrated Voice and Data Networks: Internet networks can now carry voice and video as well as data traffic. However, many organisations are still running separate networks and maintaining obsolete telephone exchange equipment. These can be integrated into one lower cost network.

  4. The Access Grid Networked Meeting Rooms: As Internet networks can now carry video and voice as well as data this can be used for decision making. Video projectors and cameras can be built into meeting rooms and placed on key staff desk top computers for holding regular and ad-hoc meetings. These should use the same Internet standards as for other networking, not a separate expensive ISDN telephone network. The AccesGrid project provides designs and software for doing this:

    The Access Gridâ"¢ is an ensemble of resources\including multimedia large-format displays, presentation and interactive environments, and interfaces to Grid middleware and to visualization environments.

    These resources are used to support group-to-group interactions across the Grid. For example, the Access Grid (AG) is used for large-scale distributed meetings, collaborative work sessions, seminars, lectures, tutorials, and training. The Access Grid thus differs from desktop-to-desktop tools that focus on individual communication.

    The Access Grid is now used at over 150 institutions worldwide. Each institution has one or more AG nodes, or "designed spaces," that contain the high-end audio and visual technology needed to provide a high-quality compelling user experience. The nodes are also used as a research environment for the development of distributed data and visualization corridors and for the study of issues relating to collaborative work in distributed environments.

    From: The Access Grid Project, 2003, URL:

    The Access Grid is part of a new initiative called "The Grid", which aims to standardise high performance computer systems and high quality interfaces. This is currently experimental technology used mostly for scientific research. One such project in Australia is the GrangeNet high bandwidth network. However, grid technology is maturing rapidly and can be applied to government applications.

    See: For Beyond The Internet, Symposium, ANU, 8 September 2003. URL:

  5. Use Commodity PCs: ANU Bunyip Supercomputer Large powerful computers can be built from clusters of low cost commodity computers. These are reasonably robust and can be mounted on low cost steel shelving, as used for the ANU's award winning 192 processor supercomputer. This runs the the Linux Open Source Software (OSS) operating system and is called the "bunyip: URL:

Use Standard Data Formats

A topic usually overlooked in computer system design is that of the format of data used. While hardware can be easily upgraded and computer linked over the Internet, it can be impossible to interchange information where formats are not shared. The Internet has provided the impetus for developing standards and the Web's XML format provided a way to express data standards and interchange information.

Governments should use international, national and commercial data standards, where available. Old pre-Internet data standards can be translated into new XML formats and maintain compatibility with old systems. It is possible to have electronic forms which can be processed automatically by computer systems but also display and print looking like paper forms.

Business Activity Statement form in XML format from Australian Taxation Office:

<EFT_CODE> 51111 121 059 9059</EFT_CODE>
<GST_LABEL_TEXT>for the QUARTER from 1 Jul 2001 to 30 Sep 2001</GST_LABEL_TEXT>

The same XML data displayed as a web page:

BAS Form

From: Formatting the eBAS with XSL, URL:

See also:

Software A daily issue in the press is the dominance of Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office automation package. Before Microsoft's rise to prominence, it was IBM which was criticised for being dominant in the industry. This may be an issue for economic policy, but in terms of building practical systems for government it is not an issue. Provided commonly accepted standards are used both Microsoft and non-Microsoft software can coexist. When building new systems government may consider the use of open source software, such the Linux operating system and the OpenOffice.Org office automation package. However, while it is often claimed that open source software is free, the cost of software purchase is only a small cost of development and maintenance of a system.

This document was prepared using software under Windows XP. The same document can be modified using under Linux.


Another open source package which might be considered is Plone, a content management system which be used for building complex government e-business applications:

Plone is built on top of the open source application server Zope and the accompanying Content Management Framework which have thousands of developers around the world supporting it.

Plone is ideal as an intranet and extranet server, as a document publishing system and as a groupware tool for collaboration between separately located entities. A versatile software product like Plone can be used in a myriad of ways. Look through the sites that use Plone section to see a variety of ways people have implemented Plone and Zope solutions.

From: Welcome to, URL:

An example of Plone application is the UK Royal Military College of Science:

The only place where experts from Academia - Cranfield University - and Officers of the British Armed Forces meet to teach Defence Science, Technology and Management.

Postgraduate courses delivered by the university can be long, short, modular, flexible/distance learning, in the UK or overseas, on campus or in your office in hundreds of defence related subjects.

We are a cutting edge research establishment with facilities to enable specialised and generic research to be carried out on the latest technology and equipment. ...

Powered by Plone

From: Welcome to Cranfield University, RMCS, 2003, URL:


The major failing in e-government projects is training. Staff selecting and installing systems need to be qualified IT professionals. Those entering data and answering queries need training in computer use, such as the ICDL Computer Driver's licence.


Australian Governments Online

Australian Governments were early adopters of Internet and web technology. The strategy used was adopted from the academic sector. The strategy was to use the technology initially for non-critical, mostly public information nd then build inwards to more critical systems.

Australian Government Information

Government in Australia is three-tiered - Commonwealth (or Federal), State and Local. More information about Australia's System of Government is available from the Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Maintained by Information Services,

From: Australian Government Information, NATIONAL LIBRARY OF AUSTRALIA, 18-Jul-2003, URL:

See: Web Reports from Exercise Kangaroo 95, from the book Net Traveller, By Tom Worthington, 1999: URL:

Overall coordination of Australian governments is provided by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE), which was established in September 1997.

As an Executive Agency, NOIE has direct responsibility for the development and coordination of advice to the Government on information economy issues, including:

From: About The National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE), 2003, URL:

NOIE provides E-government strategies and implementation:

The use of new technologies for government information provision, service delivery and administration has the potential to transform government. This transformation will improve the lives of Australians. NOIE provides a framework and coordinates whole of government approaches to support Commonwealth agency efforts in this area.

From: E-government strategies and implementation, NOIE, URL:

NOIE also provides security and privacy initatives:

Confidence, trust and security are powerful online enablers. The Government is working to build public trust and confidence in going online, and addressing barriers to consumer confidence in ecommerce and other areas of online content and activity.The use of new technologies for government information provision, service delivery and administration has the potential to transform government. This transformation will improve the lives of Australians. NOIE provides a framework and coordinates whole of government approaches to support Commonwealth agency efforts in this area.

NOIE Confidence, trust and Security, URL:

Running the 2008 Olympics Online

In early November experts from around the world met in Beijing to present ideas for the Olympic 2008 Official Website. Speakers from design, new media applications, web management, marketing and promotion shared viewpoints on design of the web site for input to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). BOCOG's approach may be usefullt applied for e-Government systems.


  1. Beijing By Bending Bicycle - On a Visit to China to Help with the Beijing 2008 Olympics Web Site, 17 November 2003, URL:

  2. Making an Accessible and Functional Website for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Tom Worthington FACS HLM, for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Official Website Preliminary Strategy Plan Symposia, Beijing, 3 November 2003, URL:

Zhejiang Provincial Government current presence online, via a web search

In building an e-government system it is important to remember that this will be part of a global network of information (the Internet). Internet users will use public search engines to find information. Government information needs to be provided on-line in a format which these search engines can index. Also the information should be arranged in a way which encourages other organisations and individuals to reference. If this is not done then it is likely that the official government information will not be found in a search. Below are the top ten web pages found with a search of 'Zhejiang Provincial Government'. None of these appear to be from official government sources:

... Advanced Search. India - China (Zhejiang) Economic Cooperation (1 October 2003)
Interaction with the Delegation from Zhejiang Provincial Government. ... advancedsearchresults.asp?cmbCatID=42 - 54k -
Cached - Similar pages

Welcome to beijingwindow
... Hainan Qiongshan Couty Material Supply Bureau, 68312836. Zhejiang Provincial
Government Beijing Representative Office, 62011037. Shenzhen ... - 34k -
Cached - Similar pages

Kean University--Nathan Weiss College of Graduate Studies
... Master in Public Administration (MPA) Program by Nathan Weiss College of Graduate
Studies, Kean University together with Zhejiang Provincial Government of China ... - 9k -
Cached - Similar pages

ECMI - Activities
... 3. YE Hongfang. M. 49. Director of the Training Centre for Cadres
of the Zhejiang Provincial Government. 4. YANG Jingbo. M. 55. Director ... - 101k -
Cached - Similar pages

<html> <head> </head><body><pre>&lt;html&gt; &lt;head&gt; &lt;/ ...
... Restructuring of the controlling shareholder Due to a restructuring of state-owned
enterprises by the Zhejiang Provincial Government, Provincial Investment Co ... - 7k -
Cached - Similar pages

... Zhejiang Forestry University (ZFU) , founded in 1958, directly under Zhejiang provincial
government, is located in Linan city - a national excellent tourism ... - 24k -
Cached - Similar pages

PPTA: PRC 31182-01 | Zhejiang-Shanxi Water Supply Project (Phase ...
... Executing Agency(ies) Zhejiang Provincial Government, Office of Coord. ... Executing
Agency Zhejiang Provincial Government, Office of Coord Contact Person, : Tel. ... - 31k -
Cached - Similar pages

Zhejiang fair targets Taiwan investors
... Wang Xiaoling, deputy secretary general of the Zhejiang provincial government, said
the fair would have 2,000 projects on display and more than 3,000 overseas ... 200105/04/eng20010504_69225.html - 17k -
Cached - Similar pages

Welcome to CBBC's China Guide - Recommended reading and websites
... box. Zhejiang provincial government The
official website of Zhejiang provincial government. Features ... - 48k -
Cached - Similar pages

More Than Just "Pretty Faces"
... It is the first time in history for Zhejiang's provincial government
openly selected a women for senior provincial government posts. ... - 33k -
Cached - Similar pages

First ten search results from: URL:

Open Source in Government

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) used a locally developed electronic voting system for elections in 2001. The electronic polling booths use standard PCs borrowed from government offices running locally written open source software. The result is a system superior to one using dedicated hardware at a far lower cost. The software can be downloaded for free from the ACT Government's web site.

See: Electronic Voting in the ACT, 22 October 2001: URL:

Online tendering by New Zeland Government

One effective use for e-Government is the tendering for goods and services. The New Zeland Government has a particularly well thought out on-line tendering system. Companies can register to receive announcements by e-mail of tenders available for selected classes of goods and services:

GETS Opportunities Added On Tuesday, 7 October 2003

Please find below the latest opportunities that match your profile.

  1. Please LOGIN to GETS -

  2. Once successfully logged into GETS, either click TenderWatch or hyperclick from the email shortcut(s) below

  3. To view the full range of tenders and opportunities, click on GETS Tender Opportunities





Respond by


Upgrade of Hardware and Software within Wellington based Citrix MetaFrame Server Environment

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To update, change or delete TenderWatch profile please visit

Provided by Industry Capability Network (NZ), PO Box 2878, Wellington, New Zealand. Telephone: +64 4 910-4949. Fax: +64 4 910-4304 Email:

From: GETS Tender Watch Notification for Tuesday, 7 October 2003, From:

Education Online

Another good use for on-line systems is education. Australian state governments provide details of educational curriculum and educational materials on-line. A good example is NSW:

What is the Board of Studies NSW?

The Board of Studies NSW was established in 1990 to serve government and non-government schools in the development of school education for Years K-12. It provides educational leadership by developing quality curriculum and awarding secondary school credentials, the School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate.

View the current list of members of the Board of Studies NSW

From: What is the Board of Studies NSW?, URL:

Protection of Systems

As well as information provided to the public, the Board of Studies NSW provides a secure web site restricted to use by selected staff. The system is protected by a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypted web pages. The SSL system built into the web is sufficient for everyday use by government, apart from highly sensitive information. The major problem with security is with education of users to use the system properly. As an example many web browsers have an option to remember the password. This is a security risk and should be disabled on government systems used to access sensitive information.

Enter the Schools Online area

Key your User Id and PIN then click the Log on button

School User Id

What is Schools Online?
Schools online is a service that allows School Principals and selected staff to view and maintain information held by the Board about their school and students. To ensure security and confidentiality a user id and secret PIN are required to access the site.

How do I get a user Id and PIN?
If you are a Principal then call Examinations Branch on (02) 9367 8275 who will send you an application form.
If you are a Staff member your Principal can set up an account for you using Schools Online.

Internet Access PIN


Bookmark this page for faster access. Use Add to Favourites or Add Bookmark depending upon your browser.


Non-Government Systems Supporting Government

It should be remembered that many systems from non-government bodies can support the business of government. In one example the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, uses a web site and electronic mail to coordinate scientists meeting with members of parliament:

Science meets Parliament

SmP Day is a two day event. The first is Briefing Day, devoted to informing the scientists on strategies, Parliamentary processes and issues. Briefing Day features a range of speakers including senior Parliamentarians and bureaucrats, journalists and successful lobbyists from other organisations. ...

The second day is devoted to the formal one-on-one meetings between the scientists and Parliamentarians. Individual meetings are timetabled between pairs of scientists, and individual members of Parliament. On average these meetings last at least half an hour, although some extend over an hour and a half as the Parliamentarians and scientists invariably find that they have many useful and exciting matters to discuss.

From: What is SmP Day, Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, 2003, YRL:

In this example an informal group of academics, researchers and interested citizens discusses Internet policy in Australia:

The Link list is an email discussion list for people interested in the development of the internet in Australia although its strays from time to time into wider issues of communication.

Areas of interest vary from time to time but the following topics have been of interest -

* Public access to the network
* Access to government information
* Privacy
* Telecommunications legislation
* Censorship and control of content on the network
* Social issues of network behavior such as spam
* Role of libraries in open learning
* Commonwealth/State policies concerning the network
* Electronic commerce
* Open/distance learning and the rise of the virtual campus

List members have taken an active role in -

* Alerting members to publications and conferences of interest
* Reports on developments from all levels of government
* Circulating drafts of papers and submissions for comment from the list
* Seeking assistance for particular problems
* Debating major issues concerning the development of the internet in Australia

This list is maintained by Tony Barry,
The list is currently open and unmoderated.
To see the collection of prior postings to the list, visit the Link Archives.

Using Link

To post a message to all the list members, send email to
You can subscribe to the list, or change your existing subscription, in the sections below.

Subscribing to Link

Subscribe to Link by filling out the following form. You will be sent email requesting confirmation, to prevent others from gratuitously subscribing you. Once confirmation is received, your request will be held for approval by the list moderator. You will be notified of the moderator's decision by email. This is also a hidden list, which means that the list of members is available only to the list administrator.

From: Link -- Link list on Australian network policy and communications, URL:

Victoria Online

One vital aspect of government is keeping good records. The web provides a special set of tools for this with standards for metadata. In the course COMP3410: Information Technology in Electronic Commerce, ANU students learn about Electronic Document Management and its implementation using XML technology. This is discussed in terms of electronic equivalents of traditional paper documents used by government, such as letters and reports:

Currently there are 3000 metadata records, and eventually there will be 250,000 full text records...

How does it work?

.. An online resource is identified;
.. A metadata record is developed;
.. The record is quality assured and added to the appropriate taxonomy category;
.. In the next release the system will then spider down two levels from each record and create a full text indext available to enhance Search.

Victoria Online can be found at The new portal provides you with a broad range of information and services, and faster, easier ways to find what you're looking for.

The research behind the development of the site is available on the eGovernment Resource Centre at

From: MULTIMEDIA VICTORIA, eGOVERNMENT ALERT, State Government of Victoria, Number 13 - October 3, 2003, URL:

Biographical Notes

Tom Worthington is an independent information technology consultant and Visiting Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at ANU, where he lectures on electronic commerce and web technology. Tom is one of the architects of the Commonwealth Government's Internet strategy and was the first Web Master for the Australian Department of Defence. In 1999 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society for his contribution to the development of public Internet policy. Tom is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery.

See Also

Copyright © Tom Worthington 2003