Electronic Government

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Description:

Electronic Government – E-Government or Digital-Government – is a means of making governments more efficient and focused on citizens’ needs through improved Internet technology. Since the desired interaction is a two-way one, E-Government is also an important means that citizens and businesses can use to better communicate their opinions, concerns, and suggestions to governmental agencies and officials.


Electronic governance is viewed as a political process aiming to reforming local and national governance, by achieving cross-boundary integration, increasing government efficiency and accountability, and reducing taxpayers’ cost burden. As stressed on many official websites, E-Governance does not equate to transposing forms from their paper format to e-format. Rather than that, E-Governance is first about replacing redundant systems with efficient customer service for the citizens of our more and more wired world. Second, E-Governance’s role is to foster increased implication of citizens in choosing the governmental products and services which will better serve people. In other words, E-Governance should be seen as an essential tool to reaching a more participatory form of democratic debate in the rulemaking process.


Recently several initiatives have been taken to expand the ways governments can reach citizens by electronic means. An example that is being deployed in the Netherlands righ now is the Personal Internet Page. The goal of this page is to become a portal where citizens can take care of al their governments affairs (both local and national). The Dutch goverment is keeping a close eye on the quality of Electronic Government. They are doing this through Advies.Overheid.nl. This is an instance that closely examines and rates Electronic Governence services to citizens, both from local and national government.

Enablers:

1. Political will – Governments’ ability to pass laws and regulations is essential for setting the legal frame of E-Government and for its uniform implementation nation-wide.

2. Information Technology capabilities – continuing IT development, exponential growth of the number of users, and more friendlier interfaces enable E-Government to reach an increased part of population.

3. Involvement of IT companies – IT hardware and software companies perceive E-Government as enterprise architecture; as a consequence, they seek partnerships with governments for integrated solutions. (See the IBM Institute for Electronic Government).

4. People’s need for democracy – as citizens’ distrust in politicians and traditional forms of governance deepens E-Government becomes, for ordinary people, a means of direct involvement in democratic processes by making their voice heard.

5. Service based governance - One of the governments main tasks is providing services to their citizens. E-governement is a new tool for governments to provide these services in a more user-friendly way. Not only does this benefit the citizen, but also the govenments themselfs.

Inhibitors

1. Resistance to change – government institutions need structural transformation on their way from bureaucratic organizations to efficient nodes of the E-Government network; it will take strong and sustainable leadership to reshape institutions and to change public servants’ mentality. On the other hand, some resistance is expected from citizens (certain age groups, people who value personal contact).

2. Multitude of initiatives – broader access to governance for increased number of citizens would generate many and sometimes contradictory initiatives; the process of choosing the ones that suit a majority will be time consuming and could transform into endless debates.

3. Lack of collaboration among agencies – government agencies will tend to act separately, following their own interests and sometimes competing against each other, hence delaying the shaping of a uniform E-Government system.

4. Lack of funding - governments are dependand on funding to be able to execute projects. Not every government project gets the enough funding to do be able to implement an E-government enviroment. This causes some initiatives to be cancelled, delayed or to turn out insufficient.

5. Problems with technology - new ways of implementing E-government services also mean that new technology is needed. Governments are already using different systems for different purposes. Combining these systems so that they can work together in a more efficient way is not an easy task and can become a big challenge.

Paradigms:

Old: Government is a bureaucratic and inefficient structure

New: E-Government enables citizens to significantly increase their participation in democratic debate, the rule-making processes and enables governments to serve their citizens in a better and more efficient way.

Experts:

Jane Fountain, http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/janefountain


Stuart W. Shulman, http://erulemaking.ucsur.pitt.edu/

Janet Caldow, http://www-1.ibm.com/industries/government/ieg/pdf/goto_market.pdf

Anna Malina

Timing:

1994 - IMB sets up the Institute for Electronic Government

1994 - USDA National Organic Program conducts the first fully electronic rule-making for a major regulation in the USA

1999 - The President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), in one of its reports to the Clinton Administration, first raises the issue of the socioeconomic problems associated to E-Government

2002 - In December, the US President signs the "E-Government Act of 2002"

Web Resources:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/egov/index.html

http://www.electronic-government.co.uk/about.cfm

http://www-1.ibm.com/industries/government/ieg/index.html

http://advies.overheid.nl (Dutch)


--Lucia 02:51, 26 Nov 2004 (MST)

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