What is deGov, anyway?

Date of publication

Turning back time for a moment. In 2016, the Drupal Business and Community Days took place. A very nice event that would be worth continuing. (Be that as it may, another topic).

At this event I met Christian from publicplan and Christoph from 1xInternet. The fact that the two names have a very similar structure caused me confusion again and again in the following period (actually until today) :)

During the evening discussion rounds, the desire to throw know-how and development power into one pot in order to "do something" solidified in all of us from different perspectives. The "something" revolved around a Drupal distribution for public administration.

Two years and a winning tender later, we look back on the first projects implemented with deGov. It was a great time with a lot of exciting experience in comparing different corporate cultures.

One of my highlights is that the culture at one partner is that product owners lower the quality of tickets until developers reject the ticket. The idea is exciting because it is time-optimised. But this had to be learned first, because the other partners always assumed that nothing better could be done and politely held back. That is not the way to communicate.

But these pains are learned. Also the one about not communicating. Now we are a powerful team with almost 100 employees serving public administration projects with deGov.

But why actually have a separate product for it?

In our deliberations and research, we have found that up to 95% of all requirements for public administration websites are the same. It's stupid when our tax money is spent individually on agency services in each project, which first determine the requirements. Then concepts are created, staff trained on individual workflows. Then the staff change jobs and can retrain. And even I, as a Berliner, don't really want to have to retrain when I want to claim my passport, identity card, driving licence or any other public administration service. It doesn't matter whether I'm in Berlin or BaWü.

gov.uk shows us how it should be done. Ok. We live in a federal state and each federal state does what it wants. But I have hope. I am an optimist.

With North Rhine-Westphalia, we were able to win the first federal state that was not averse to the idea of avoiding unnecessary waste of tax money. We divided our deGov product into 4 layers and implemented them. Oh yes: not mentioned at all. deGov is based on Drupal 8.x. Thus it follows the licensing as open source software. #yeah.

Layer model

  • Layer 1 comprises the Drupal core and contrib modules.
  • Layer 2 comprises the adaptations of core and modules into functionalities for public administration.
  • Layer 3 includes adaptations for the federal state (e.g. a coordinated state design and federal state-specific adaptations).
  • Layer 4 comprises the 5% special curls that a website demands because it wants to represent something very special.

Provided that we can do without the special curls from layer 4 in a project implementation and provided that the people responsible for this project can also do everything themselves, the website costs exactly 0.00 euros of additional money to be spent on external service providers. That is open source. That is optimising taxpayers' money. I am glad that this is slowly getting into the heads of those who are supposed to use our money wisely. Thank you for that.

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DeepL is a deep learning company that develops AI systems for languages. The company, based in Cologne, Germany, was founded in 2009 as Linguee, and introduced the first internet search engine for translations. Linguee has answered over 10 billion queries from more than 1 billion users.

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Stephan Luckow

Stephan is an open source evangelist and constantly curious about technologies. Thematically, his blog posts can best be summarised as "curiosity satisfied".