Solving Government-Mandated Data Governance Requirements

The Estonian Tax and Customs Board is one of the country’s public sector agencies required to bring its data governance framework into the modern age through government-mandated digitalization. They discovered that the Accurity platform got them started quickly on this road, and the Accurity tools align perfectly with their needs, growth, and the government’s requirements.


Although the Estonian public sector was making great strides in data description and data cataloging, there is now a government-mandated initiative from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to create frameworks for data description management and data quality.

However, even though some public sector agencies may have good frameworks, they do not have the proper tools for data descriptions and data cataloging. For example, some agencies use Excel, which requires significant effort and can be an unwieldy tool.

One of those agencies is the Estonian Tax and Customs Board. They could not create the uniqueness of terminology that is required as the complexity is very high. Combined with the need for more than 100,000 data fields, over 6,000 terms, and the necessities of risk management, fraud detection, and tax collection, it is all too complicated for most tools, including Excel.

Excel has a limited structure and is not well-suited for capturing and organizing complex business terms and their definitions. Complications, such as lacking standardized metadata, arise – a proper business glossary often includes additional metadata, including synonyms, acronyms, relationships, usage examples, and classifications. Data integrity, version control, and searchability need to be robust features, and many tools have limited data governance, data exploration and visualization, or collaboration features.

Other tools that were tested were not easy to implement and use and were expensive or required costly infrastructure changes. Some of the tools’ companies required a complicated or highly-priced setup process, even for just trialing their tool, or they didn’t even offer a trial.

The substantial government regulations and security requirements also dictated what could be usable as a replacement.

These challenges created a difficult scenario that initially appeared very tough to overcome.

Project in numbers

Due to government-mandated digitalization, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (ETCB) needed a tool that would help them support a framework for the required data description management and data quality. They discovered that because Accurity was easy to use and free to get started, it enabled them to start quickly and easily on their data initiative. Accurity would also scale and grow with them as they needed it to.


data fields






services to digitalize


The Estonian Tax and Customs Board wanted a data platform and solution that:

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    was easy to implement and use with minimal training

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    reduced inefficiency and cost by minimizing the person-hours spent on training and using it

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    was not expensive to trial, implement, and scale

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    fitted with the government’s regulations, including that of collecting personal data, and the government’s security requirements, such as state secrecy and what is classified as internal or public data

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    the scope of definitions could be clearly limited at the start

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    would scale up effortlessly

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    could easily be used by other public sector agencies to help with cross-department integration


The Estonian Tax and Customs Board looked at several data governance tools but chose the Accurity platform as great value came from the fact that they could start using Accurity immediately from scratch. In their dealings with other providers during the public procurement process, all the other vendors, despite having a SaaS platform to provide, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board needed to purchase a “pre-project” where the vendor would analyze what they were doing and set the cloud environment for them. This instantly made those vendors far too expensive to get started.

Narrowing its initial scope helped the Estonian Tax and Customs Board to start quickly without being overwhelmed with features they didn’t want to utilize immediately. As Accurity is easy to use, their data stewards immediately understood the hierarchy of the data set, the structures, and the fields. They could follow the framework that had been done independently from any product, and they found their required framework to be a very good match with Accurity Business glossary and data catalog. Their data stewards could understand the framework and saw that the implementation was very easy within Accurity, which according to ETCB, was pretty unique on the market.

The initial scope was limited to implementing the first layer of describing public services related very clearly to the source systems, where it is just data fields, the names of the fields, connections to terms, and what they called static hierarchies.

Accurity could then easily scale up to handle the overlook of companies, including how they act by paying their taxes and who is committing fraud which would mean all kinds of relations, all over different data being used, what they called data management services. In addition, it was straightforward for other public sector agencies to use Accurity, allowing for cross-department integration.

Finally, Accurity could also be scaled up and used within the Estonian government’s mandated plan for overall event-based services, such as a citizen having a baby and getting support services and a kindergarten place automatically provided to them, meaning citizens only need to apply somewhere once, and the state agencies are able to share the needed information.


The Head of Data Governance at the Estonian Tax and Customs Board discovered that Accurity is free to test and intuitive to use, enabling the organization to get started quickly.

Not all users were keen to spend their time building out the initial scope of data fields and terms, but once they had approximately 10,000 fields and 2,000 terms, these users quickly began to see the whole picture of the agency and wanted to get involved. This was especially true of business users as a lot of this was previously hidden in the IT partner databases. Now, with Accurity, it’s open, and users are very interested in continuing the data journey to agree on the internal business language. Even at an early stage, they rapidly had over 100 in “data ownership” roles.

Thanks to Accurity, it has enabled them to create and empower a data culture within the organization, which they have been able to share with other public sector agencies.

Any state agency can start their data projects, which are immediately implementable with Accurity. If there are more complicated steps or if they want to dig a little further and deeper, Accurity is scalable and is backed up with excellent service and great support.

Although implementation in the Estonian Tax and Customs Board is in its early stages, Accurity is already proving invaluable to them. It would be the same for any state department in any country that must invest in its data governance initiatives, especially when mandated at the national level.

Features such as custom fields, custom properties, search, data lineage, and the graphical representation of business terms have become key to helping the organization kickstart and comply with government-mandated digitalization.

Accurity will grow and scale with their needs as they continue to grow, and the variety of deployment models, integrability, and customizable features provide a solution suitable for any organization looking to implement effective data governance.

I also like that I can easily see that you are developing the product further. Right now, we are enjoying the custom fields and custom properties. I also found the search feature very convenient, so you can find whatever items you want, of course. The graphical representation of the business terms, as with data lineage, is very impressive, and it's like a selling point immediately to any business user buying it because nobody wants to see the list of Excel sheets, right?“

Alvar Pihlapuu

Head of Data Governance

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