Issuu on Google+

inaugural session

Opportunities v/s Challenges e-Government can be a gamechanger, but challenges remain By Walter Fust, Member, ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission; Member, UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA)

I

n times where one has amazing tools for data collection, processing, storage and communication, there is no excuse for not using technology in government and servicing the public. Opportunities for deploying ICT in government are immense in all countries, but they are subject to capacity, political will and leadership, financial resources and computer literacy among government officials and citizens. In addition, quicker the technological tools – hardware and software develop, the more it becomes obvious that choices are necessary and the risks of missing the train lurking nearby. There are seldom opportunities without risks, but there is an opportunity to introduce a culture of IT risk governance dealing with what you do and whether you do the right thing well or not.

Making Administration e-Enabled The challenge in Public Administration is to reorganise work procedures, workflows, administrative flows, overcoming generational

There is no third investment partner that can do egovernment for somebody else. There is however knowledge and support that can be provided without borders

8

egov / www.egovonline.net / September 2011

The challenge for adequate technical solutions might be considerable, but the challenge for leadership is of paramount importance

edge of services to be rendered should often be the point to start in tackling those applications and to make them user-friendly.

Issues of Access

gaps in computer literacy and in easing the readiness for change, reducing the fear of becoming more easily controllable and subject of political intervention or media-related investigations. The challenge for adequate technical solutions might be considerable, but the challenge for leadership is of paramount importance. If there is no clear political will and continuous leadership from and to the top, the administration often gets stuck in an internal struggle leading to stalemates and political staging. A sound policy of incentives is recommended to overcome barriers. Those offices making good progress should be rewarded and not subject to budgetary reduction because of being more effective than others. Gains in effectiveness should be made available for doing even better. Parliaments and citizens should be kept well-informed about intentions and what the short- and longer-term benefits will be. Citizens should be able to experience the benefits of egovernment and that is why the cutting-

It is obvious that the telecom infrastructure must be there and adequate bandwidth available and accessible at reasonable costs. The availability of broadband is key not only for urban centres but also for rural areas. If broadband is not brought to the last mile of users within a reasonable time, many govt intentions in rendering public services might be partly or greatly a failure. As we have seen, access to mobiles is growing at a much faster clip than access to computers. Consequently, m-government would be a significant part of e-government. For egovernance, access to broadband is the key and matters related to broadband rollout and access should not be left to the telecom industry alone. An additional challenge might come from and through the social media. Increasing number of citizens will use that space and will challenge governments and administration. When governments speak as one-to-many, they will have to get accustomed to the echo that is from many and even more. Government decisions will be influenced if not sometimes derailed by this impact and the key is to learn how to engage with stakeholders in a effective manner using this platform. Weighing opportunities against challenges, I still think opportunities over short or long term will prevail over challenges. Time and citizen access to IT will simply turn challenges into opportunities over time. There is no fit for all solution. There is no third investment partner that can do egovernment for somebody else. There is however knowledge and support that can be provided without borders.


eGov-Sept-2011-[8]-Inaugural Session-Opportunities vs Challenges