EDM Environment Austria
Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Ministry of Life)

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Over the past decades numerous regulations for the protection of the environment were elaborated in Europe. The basic regulations are laid down by the EU and have to be applied either directly or else incorporated into national law. These regulations include provisions for permit procedures and technical requirements like specific provisions for safe and environmentally sound operations, emission reduction measures, emission limitations and specifications concerning the generation, collection, recycling or disposal of waste. The regulations have to be legally correct but also technically correct. As the regulations often deal with a wide range of operations / technologies / business areas on the one hand and contain very specific provisions for each area on the other hand, they are often hard to understand for people who have to comply with the regulation. In general, such regulations aim at the protection of the environment and of human health. As very young and elderly people are more affected by air pollution, smog, ozone, particulate matter and noise, the enforcement of environmental regulations is of high interest to these groups. Although having to consider so many regulations is extremely time-consuming for both the companies concerned and the administrative authorities involved – it is nevertheless necessary for the protection of the environment and human health. Both the general public and the competent provincial authorities have a great interest in ensuring that the complex and extensive administration and control activities required for protecting the environment and people are carried out nationwide and as consistently as possible. At the same time the burden for all those concerned should not exceed what is absolutely necessary. A large number of administrative authorities at a federal and provincial level and experts as well as companies - whether as plant operators, waste generators, transporters or companies that collect and treat waste - are involved in these measures for ensuring a high standard of environmental protection. This clearly illustrates just how complex the procedures are and how often information must be processed, modified and passed on to other bodies. Apart from the interest of the general public in a high environmental standard, it must not be forgotten that ensuring legally compliant behaviour is a key factor of fair competition in a free market economy. Society must do its best to undermine the possibility of individual enterprises gaining a permanent competitive edge through illegal behaviour. As an eGovernment application EDM standardises and simplifies the cooperation between companies and the authorities with regard to the implementation of legal obligations in the field of environmental protection. The great challenge in the environmental sector is not so much the number of recordings and reports but rather the underlining complexity of the procedures involved. EDM supports the users concerned with their statutory registration, notification and reporting obligations. This in turn reduces the administrative burden for users and authorities alike, while nevertheless - or for this very reason - also helping to achieve even better observation of environmental standards.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
For the control of the enforcement the regulations contain monitoring and reporting obligations of the operators to the authorities and reporting obligations of the member states to the European Commission. A company often has to comply with more than one environmental regulation and the reporting obligations of different regulations often handle the same type of information. For example, a steelworks recycles metals and uses plastic waste (for energy production and as carbon source), it generates waste and emissions (partly stemming from waste treatment) to the air and to the water and it is an industrial installation with specific provisions in the EU Industrial Emissions Directive for licensing and control (including publication of the permit and the results of the control). Usually there are different authorities responsible for the different areas. Thus companies and authorities have to maintain and - in part - to report the same data in different formats for different sectors. In a modern, efficient and effective administration there is a need for close cooperation between the involved authorities and thus for the exchange of information taking into account the stringent requirements of the data protection provisions. Multiple entries of the same data have to be avoided to the extent possible. EDM is an eGovernment tool that was developed by the Austrian Ministry of Life in cooperation with the federal provinces over a period of many years. EDM is one of the most modern and effective IT-tools in eGovernment in the whole of Europe. It comprises a network of 22 applications with which reporting obligations (e.g. of emission data), applications for permits and verification requirements are processed uniformly in compliance with different environment-related laws. The objective of EDM is to create clarity and legal certainty for all stakeholders by supporting a uniform application of Austrian and European legislation in the environmental sector, thus making a major contribution to maintaining the high standard of Austrian environmental protection. The clearly arranged, well-structured and in part menu-guided design of EDM makes even complex processes manageable. Without electronic support it would be almost impossible to manage the many requirements in practice. EDM has a “cross-administrative” design. So EDM enables the integration of authorities at different administrative levels and with different areas of competence. This is important because there is often more than one authority responsible for a specific permit or report. Cooperation between waste and trade authorities has been improved Austria-wide thanks to the new implementation of the Directive on Industrial Emissions. EDM includes environmentally relevant information concerning 45,000 registered companies with 17,000 locations and 20,000 plants. EDM is used in 4 federal ministries - Health, Finance, the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management - as well as in all Austrian provinces and all 95 district authorities. Around 800,000 reports a year are submitted in EDM, consisting in part of several thousand datasets, and there is a total of over 20 million hits of EDM services annually. Among other things EDM supports environmental protection. Environmental protection boosts the economy and creates new jobs. The EDM programme is used actively in several international working groups that are preparing the way for and promoting interoperability with other European and international eGovernment systems. Most important: The introduction of EDM has made it more difficult for companies to dispose of waste improperly or to cover up dubious emissions. This prevents environmental pollution and helps with imposing the “polluter pays” principle.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
1. EDM reduces the high content-related complexity by intelligent IT support. 2. EDM ensures maximum efficiency while at the same time facilitating use by means of context-related processes and many guided processes. 3. EDM raises the environmental standards and nevertheless provides for a marked improvement in inter-company competition by fairness and equal opportunities. 4. EDM permits a uniform view for all authorities, experts and companies involved through more clearly structured and comprehensible decrees – also across borders. 5. EDM leads to higher legal certainty through a clear reporting system and simultaneously speeds up the time for handling documents. 6. EDM is an initiative for world-wide data type definitions for the entire environmental area. 7. EDM makes complex processes manageable and simple to handle through its clearly arranged, well-structured and in part menu-guided design. 8. EDM facilitates speedy and effective controls thanks to cross-application evaluations and the use of business intelligence e.g. for detecting problem areas to facilitate on-site inspections. This means that violations of the law can be detected faster, which in turn helps minimise risks to the environment. 9. EDM saves costs through the increase in efficiency in administrative work. This is a direct benefit for environmental protection.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Austrian Federal Ministry of the Environment initiated a feasibility study in 1996 dealing with electronic data exchange in the waste management sector. Soon it was obvious that it would be necessary to expand the project to the entire environmental sector in order to reduce the administrative burden for companies and authorities and to improve efficiency and effectiveness. To provide the necessary information to the different competent authorities on the one hand and to protect sensitive company data against misuse on the other hand detailed provisions had to be elaborated and were put into force with the Waste Management Act 2002 in a first step. The following organizations are cooperating in the development and implementation of EDM: - Ministry of Life (various sections and departments) - Federal authorities (e.g. Ministries of Economic Affairs and of Finance) - Provincial authorities of all 9 federal provinces - District authorities Austria-wide - Federal Economic Chamber - Platform Digital Austria, Statistics Austria – business register, commercial register, trade register, etc. There is cross-border cooperation in the field of EUDIN. In a first step the technical requirements are defined together with representatives of the parties concerned and the EDM IT specialists. The IT business analysts compile the functional specifications for the software. Technical requirement gathering, business analysis document and functional specifications all undergo an extensive coordination and harmonization process. This is followed by implementation and extensive test. End users and special interest groups are directly involved in the development process in order to enhance practical suitability and user friendliness. The structure of the EDM programme with its projects and cross-cutting topics and the legal background (EU and national regulations) are shown in file “EDM Overview LEGAL Background.pdf” EDM is an extremely extensive and complex “Software as a Service” application. It can be accessed on the Internet via standard protocols, is neither bound to any specific terminals nor does it require any local installation. Provision of the service is automatic, needing no interaction with the operator of EDM. All resources and data are freely available for the many users in the form of a pool. The services of EDM are provided for the most part free of charge and without requiring a licence. Access and export of data are carried out in compliance with the strict requirements of Austrian data protection legislation. EDM is a cloud application in the classic sense of the NIST definition. Open and standards-based interfaces provided by EDM mainly via web services are essential in the interoperability architecture. Well-established international technical standards are applied. A key basic EDM principle provides that data are collected and managed only once, namely when they first arise, and after that are transmitted and processed exclusively without media discontinuity. Mobile devices are supported for example for reporting obligations related to the transport of waste and serve as an example showing where the exchange of information with EDM is a core part of commercial IT solutions. EDM pursues interoperability on a semantic level, enabling cross-context usability of data. The interoperation options offered by EDM are widely used. Many private market software companies have integrated interoperation capability with EDM into their business software solutions, and many companies fulfil their reporting obligations this way. Harmonization has been achieved mainly by employing existing United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) standards, especially by basing data formats on Core Components from the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library (CCL). Additional contents have been submitted to UN/CEFACT for harmonization and standardization. Due to the relevance of harmonization, the EDM project has contributed to UN/CEFACT for years and continues to do so.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
As stated EDM has a “cross-administrative” design. In other words the federal government, the provinces, district authorities and other organizations can communicate directly with each other via this central eGovernment platform. Cross-administrative acts can be implemented simply or controls managed jointly thanks to the extensive possibilities EDM offers for communication between companies and authorities. Complete documentation of the processes is carried out in compliance with the legal requirements of eGovernment and Austrian data protection law. EDM is already used as a cross-member state application. Some parts of it are used in cooperation with authorities in Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, which of course makes cross-border cooperation a lot easier. Cooperations with Digital Austria, the Chamber of Commerce, EUDIN Network, Statistics Austria – business register, commercial register, trade register, etc. The development of uniform standards for the design and functions of the EDM applications and the involvement of usability experts together with the publication of a number of user manuals and guidance documents and many different user manuals constitute a major benefit for the users of EDM. The development of the system or its sub-applications has led to more intensive networking and an increase in the exchange of knowledge between the federal government, the provinces, district administrations and the other stakeholders. The broad cooperation leads to a common understanding and a uniform approach. The execution activities of the various authorities are also standardised by the use of EDM. Uniform conditions combined with wide-ranging support of application and permit procedures, reporting and verification obligations support a fair and equitable competition and reduce the administrative burden for companies and authorities alike. Due to these benefits broad support for the development of EDM by the above-mentioned organizations is guaranteed.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management of Austria (BMLFUW) is the promoter of the project. 15 employees of the ministry work for the EDM - first of all as programme managers and managers of one of the (sub-) projects. 50 IT experts of the Austrian Federal Environment Agency carry out IT business analyses and implementation work on behalf of the ministry, accompanied by at least 10 additional contractors, most of them stemming from international IT service providers. Approximately 100 employees of the provinces and of local authorities support the elaboration of requirements specifications and of IT analyses by their knowledge of administrative processes. Selected companies representative of the Austrian enterprise structure were involved in the requirements specification and in user tests. EDM has already been up and running since 2005. More than 20 mio EURO have been invested for different services so far. The actual framework development plan covers a development period until 2018. At present, costs for service and maintenance (operational costs) amount to 1 mio EURO per year. The programme is funded by Government grants. The Federal Environment Agency is the main contractor and partner. It supports not only the business analyses but also operates the EDM software and contributes to the development costs (approx. 5 - 10 %). Specific waste collection systems (collection systems for packaging waste and for used electric and electronic equipment) contribute to the operational costs (10% of the operational costs).

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
For each sub-project a working group with experts of competent authorities was established for requirement specifications and business analysis. Due to the intensive discussions a common understanding of the authorities responsible for the enforcement of the regulations was reached. Furthermore, the uniform enforcement by all competent authorities is supported by the software (as it provides the same procedure with the same check rules, requires the same data and gives the same evaluation and visualization for everybody). By the involvement IT-experts already in the elaboration of a national regulation a better understanding of the content and the consequences is gained already before the regulation is put into force. This increases the quality of regulations. By evaluation and analyses of the data gathered a better understanding of the activities and procedures of the companies, their environmental impact and the effects of changes (e.g. due to changed regulations) can be gained. This enables the elaboration of demand-orientated and targeted regulations and thus the development of effect-orientated administration. EDM establishes a network of environmental data. Due to continuous quality control and completeness of the reported data supported by cross-sector data evaluation, IT-supported plausibility checks and cross checks and comparison with the results of on-site verifications and environmental inspections data integrity is consistently improved. This comprehensive pool of information enables targeted control by competent authorities and thereby ensures a high level of environmental protection despite reduced administration staff. The introduction of EDM has made it more difficult for companies to dispose of waste improperly or to cover up dubious emissions. This prevents environmental pollution and helps with imposing the “polluter pays” principle. The better understanding and uniform enforcement of the regulations as well as the improved control causes a better legal compliance and thus an improved environmental protection on the one hand and a fair competition of environmentally aware companies on the other hand. The support provided by EDM in achieving efficient management of resources is a decisive factor in the competition of companies; it ensures their competiveness and creates additional employment. The more effective controls facilitated by the use of EDM will allow progressive readjustment of the market with regard to those service providers whose dumping prices endanger the economic existence of serious providers. This in turn makes e.g. the waste branch more interesting for new companies wishing to comply with the high standards demanded. This creates new jobs for well-trained skilled workers.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
EDM is designed as a long-term programme split into a set of content-driven projects, often based on specific law acts. Each of them is individually managed and controlled. The whole programme is led by a small team of experts with reporting obligations to the management of the Ministry of Life. Software implementation follows a waterfall model (from requirements specification to the launch of an application). Each major phase of any single project is accompanied by reviews involving representatives of all stakeholders (companies included!). Moreover, monthly status reports put together the resources used, the milestones reached (or missed) and a forecast to completion thus helping to keep the plan. In a first step these reports address the responsible persons of the ministry and a digest thereof is used to keep the programme management and the steering board informed. Control of the quality and completeness of the reported data is carried out by the ministry and the competent authorities. Cross-sector data evaluation, IT-supported plausibility checks and cross checks support the control tasks of the authorities. Available data and evaluation results are compared with the results of on-site verifications and environmental inspections. Last but not least an evaluation takes place through the daily business of nearly 50,000 registered users relying on EDM databases and applications. Since EDM is financed by government grants the standard controlling procedures of administrative bodies (internal audit and Austrian Court of Audit) apply.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The greatest challenge envisaged by far is the fact that administrative processes laid down in numerous legal regulations, administrative processes and office organizations are designed along traditional, paper-based thinking. Therefore at the beginning a lot of efforts at persuasion had to be spent in order to convince stakeholders from all levels of administration about the fact that EDM as an eGovernment initiative means much more than digitising forms. Consequently, these efforts ended up in the introduction of a steering board involving high-level-representatives of the different ministries and all federal provinces. Based on internal rules of procedures this steering board meets at least twice a year and is responsible for the strategic orientation of EDM. In order to enable dissemination of knowledge about EDM and how it could serve both administration as well as companies so-called EDM Coordinators have been installed in each of the nine Austrian provinces. They serve as contact points and gather specific requirements raised by regional stakeholders. This has proved to be the most effective measure in order to exchange experiences stemming from on-site legal enforcement involving officials and company representatives. Since environmental and especially waste-related regulations are scattered among a wide range from European to federal legislation another major threat to overcome was to bridge the lacking harmonisation by the means of technical solutions. EDM is built as a collaborative system of more than 20 IT applications using one master data register. The same data, mainly provided by registered parties (i.e. companies), are used to fulfil different legal obligations. It is very difficult to gain full knowledge and understanding by all partners on the needs and innovative solutions in this complex environment

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
EDM offers companies an enormous advantage. If a company involved in waste management uses EDM, it can be sure that the administrative work is performed correctly and in compliance with the law. It has just the one portal for different notifications and can monitor what is happening with its waste at any given time. This ensures equal treatment and fairness for all those concerned. EDM is also a practical tool for companies when it comes to gathering information. Until now it has been extremely difficult to get a complete overview, e.g. over the waste management business. But EDM has changed all that. With just a few mouse clicks you can find all the locations of companies collecting or treating waste, their permits and waste treatment plants such as landfills or waste incinerators. EDM makes life far simpler for the authorities as well. They no longer have to plough through great piles of paper documents because everything can now be done in EDM - the application of the waste collector, expert reports, checking whether applications are complete and submitted in time and whether they conform with the legal requirements. The search for discrepancies or abuses is now carried out in EDM, which makes the work far more effective and saves a great deal of time. The number of companies that do not comply with the legal regulations can be reduced significantly thanks to EDM (e.g. evaluations from EDM are the basis for a campaign dedicated to controlling improperly operated landfills currently being carried out in cooperation with the provinces). The information and knowledge management integrated in EDM are particularly useful. Documents, attachments, images, plans, processes, notices from the authorities are all saved centrally with EDM. EDM users can access all the information they need depending on their role and authorisation. Once a process step is completed all those involved and who have tasks to fulfil in the next step are notified automatically. Companies can use the processing status to gain an overview of the status of their procedure or the processing of their reports by the authority. This means that processes can be handled more quickly and deadlines kept more reliably. Thanks to the waste balance sheet reports and the structured capture of the waste treatment plants in EDM the authorities receive an excellent graphical overview of the stream of waste between the companies and between the waste treatment plants. Each waste management company gets access to its own internal stream of waste and to its exchange of waste. This added value is also provided by EDM automatically. The greatest advantage of EDM is that it reduces the complexity of the specialist requirements for the users. The acceptance procedure at a landfill is made far simpler thanks to the IT support that encompasses the complete process, with data transfer between waste owners, experts, landfill operators and landfill supervisory bodies taking place without media discontinuity. The expert who analyses the waste simply imports these results from his/her lab. information system directly into the EDM which then supports him/her with the correct and complete evaluation of whether the waste can be landfilled in compliance with the limit values. The owner of the waste is only notified of those landfills that are actually authorised to accept such waste. This reduces the time needed for proper control of the documents on arrival at the landfill and inspection by the supervisors of the landfill by around 90%. The effort and expense of consolidating the contents of permits is completely eliminated for the authorities if permits for a company / plant are continuously captured in EDM. Such work would normally involve 1-2 man-months a year for a medium-sized enterprise. A knowledge database - with full integration in the comprehensive Austrian eGovernment landscape - as a single point of information concerning environmental data like waste generation, collection, treatment, and recycling data as well as permit information, emission data to air and water, and information on radioactive sources. Increased understanding where additional regulations or changes of existing regulations are needed to successfully protect the environment and human health and to ensure fair competition supports the idea of "better regulation" and effective control of environmental regulations .

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
EDM has already been up and running since 2005. The first extensive refactoring of EDM is in the planning. This should be completed by 2014. The aim of this refactoring is to further simplify many functions and to make the system even more user-friendly. According to the framework development plan that extends to 2018 the interoperability of EDM with the other eGovernment registers is to be extended even further. Additional applications are planned in compliance with the specifications of relevant EU Directives and Austrian legislation. The existing applications for cross-border shipment of waste and the transport of hazardous waste are to be extended to include “paperless processing” (real EDI between companies and authorities). It is also planned to expand the business intelligence infrastructure, focussing in particular on cross-application evaluations tht will provide support for law enforcement and planning tasks. EDM is a modern eGovernment tool that uses IT to make the many procedures involved in waste management and environmental protection in general more transparent. EDM supports lawful and environmentally sound waste management beginning at the start of the chain: a company producing waste may start a public query at edm.gv.at to find the nearest waste management company licenced for the collection or treatment of that specific waste. The waste management companies have to provide annual reports on their collection and treatment operations. Discrepancies are detected more easily thanks to the cross-application evaluations. In other words the introduction of EDM has made it more difficult to dispose of waste improperly or to cover up dubious emissions. This prevents environmental pollution and means fairer framework conditions for all companies. EDM is ideally suited as a control instrument for the traceability of environmentally relevant activities. It makes it easier for the administration to enforce laws, offers better control possibilities and more efficient procedures. This in turn enables a significant reduction in unlawful behaviour. As an instrument for verifying the achievement of goals EDM will play a key role in the introduction of effect-orientated administration in the environmental sector. Thus EDM is a future orientated eGovernment solution for the entire environmental sector fully integrated in the comprehensive eGovernment environment of Austria. It ensures a high level of environmental protection despite reduced administration staff. As EDM with its 22 applications is designed and optimized for the specific Austrian situation with its administrative responsibility of the competent authorities and its comprehensive eGovernment environment a direct transfer of the whole EDM - as it is - to another country will not be possible. But the principles of the elaboration of the software solutions, the subjects which have to be taken into account, the parties which should be involved and in general the lessons learned are a valuable knowledge base for any comparable system to be developed. Depending on the specific situation even parts of the software can be reused, transferred and integrated into other ICT solutions. In any case some critical factors and success factors may be derived and passed on to interested countries or organizations.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Introducing IT to administration challenges both the legislative processes and administrative workflows within competent authorities and companies. It is crucial that - even for well-introduced but paper-based processes - a detailed business analysis is carried out. The involvement of all actors (companies, chamber of commerce, competent authorities, provinces, ministries, etc.) is essential to develop an electronic business process utilizing the optimization capabilities of IT-solutions. As a consequence, traditional workflows have to be adapted and partly even organizational changes are required for efficient procedures. This results in a long-term engagement of promoters and demands patience with respect to potential gains. In order to make most out of electronic data interchange involvement of IT know-how has to be integrated at an early stage. By the intensive involvement of IT-experts already in the elaboration of a regulation a better understanding of the content and the consequences is gained before the regulation is put into force. Thus the quality of regulations is increased. The objective to create clarity and legal certainty for all stakeholders by supporting a uniform application of Austrian and European legislation in the environmental sector has evolved as the main asset associated with EDM, helping to overcome obstacles related to technological changes. Efficient IT-solutions support common views and the same level of information by companies and all authorities involved. This leads to better transparency and to fair competition of environmentally aware companies. Evaluation and analyses of the gathered data enable targeted control by competent authorities. In many cases companies receive permits from several competent authorities – for water, air and waste. Until now these differ in structure and content. Over the years the company changes its activities and the statutory framework conditions change as well. The company then applies for new permits or amendment notices. So in the case of larger companies there are often a lot of permits with complementary but also in part contradictory contents. This makes it extremely difficult for both the authority and the company to determine the latest applicable scope and content of the approval. For EDM as a future orientated eGovernment solution IT-support for consolidation of the contents of permits is essential. This saves time, makes it easier for companies to ensure they are operating within the law, and guarantees the same level of information for both the companies and the authorities concerned. A uniform data model for all EDM applications is crucial for the required interoperability. Worldwide standards for data types and messages like those of UN/CEFACT have to be applied to the extent possible. If standards are missing there, the elaboration has to be initiated in order to develop a future-proof solution, to provide certainty for investors and to encourage continuous development. Data-protection and detailed user-role/rights-management clearly communicated to the involved parties are essential to provide necessary information to the authorities on the one hand and to protect sensitive data from misuse on the other hand. Video1 Practical demonstration of EDM “Tunnel construction” http://vimeo.com/63814412 Video2 EDM: What it is and what it does: http://vimeo.com/63807606

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (Ministry of Life)
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Franz Mochty
Title:   Programme Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   +43 (664) 2510580
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   franz.mochty@lebensministerium.at  
Address:   Stubenbastei 5
Postal Code:   1010
City:   Vienna
State/Province:   Vienna

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