Estonia's basic digital state infrastructure, services to be centralized

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Laptop computer (photo isillustrative). Source: Thought Catalog/Unsplash

The government decided at its cabinet sitting on Thursday to embark on a reform of the basic services of the digital state and to transition state institutions onto a central organization of computer workstation and server infrastructure services.

Minister of Entrepreneurship and IT Andres Sutt (Reform) said the decision will see the foundations of the digital state, which serve as the basis for the functioning of the whole state and public services, undergo a reorganization. 

"In order to raise the pace of development of our digital state, the dependability of information systems, and to simultaneously save also millions of euros, we initiated a reform of the basic infrastructure and basic services of the digital state. Moving on with computer workstation and server hosting services in the current dispersed form is not sustainable, neither financially nor in terms of the quality of service, which is why we decided to transition to a centrally organized computer workstation and server hosting service across the whole state sector," Sutt said in a statement.

The proposals endorsed by the government are based on an analysis led jointly by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in 2020, which looked at the organization of computer workstation and server hosting services and their quality at 112 institutions of the state.

The survey found that while there is duplication between areas of administration of the provision of the services and the resource used, everybody is experiencing a shortage of resources and the services are standard in nature. In addition, the possibility exists to outsource underused services to the private sector.

The minister said the state will benefit a lot from the reorganization of the basic services, as information security risks will be lower, the quality of basic services will be higher, the development of the digital state will be faster and its sustainability better.

"Of course, less money will be needed for the upkeep of the digital state at the necessary level - according to the analysis, in the unconsolidated form, the state will have to pay at least €27 million more by 2030 for maintaining basic ICT services at the necessary level," he said. 

As part of the transition to a centralized organization of services, a national IT basic services institution will be set up in the area of administration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications into which the organization of computer workstation and server hosting services will be brought together from other ministries and state institutions in the coming years.

The Cabinet tasked the minister of entrepreneurship and IT with establishing the central service provider and preparing the plan for the whole transition by October 2021. 

The minister said that a center of competence for the more effective and higher quality management of the IT infrastructure and basic services of state institutions will be established, which will arrange for the central provision of the service to all institutions of the state, doing it either itself or also by outsourcing ever greater proportions of it to the private sector.

"In this way, we will avoid the making of dispersed investments and ensure constant upgrades of technology and better functioning of the digital state as a whole, by transitioning to cloud solutions, among other things. As a result of the consolidation, also the numbers of jobs necessary for the provision of basic services will decline," he said.

The transitioning of basic services to a centrally provided service will take place gradually, by area of administration. A more precise timetable will be set out with an operational program. The existing IT units of the state will continue working on the development and maintenance of sectoral information systems, datasets and digital services also in the future.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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