The development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) provides means for quicker and improved communication, effective storage, access and handling of data and transfer and use of information to users, regardless of whether they are individuals, organizations, businesses, groups, or governments. With rising computerization and growth of internet connectivity, the process has currently reached a phase where more users are interested to modify the way they do things to leverage on the advantages offered by ICT. For citizens, it promises enhanced information access and access to government agencies, resulting in transparency and efficient service delivery when dealing and interacting with e-government.
The use of ICT to enhance public sector services began with the e-government in mind. Changing government services through ICTs has been costly and complex, often linked to automation of public services and integration of business systems. As e-government initiatives focus on operational efficiency, projects targeting smart public service efforts sought to promote transparency in public service, civic involvement, and collaboration of various departments. While the changes undeniably seek to promote efficiencies, they are by nature qualitative, changing primarily the relationship between citizens and governments.
ICT is widely utilized by government agencies and enterprises, however e-Government entails much more than mere tools. It involves reconsidering administrations and procedures, and altering behavior such that public services get delivered in a more efficient way. When implemented properly, e-Government allows citizens, businesses and organizations to perform their business with government efficiently, faster and at a reduced cost.
Application developers like Citysourced.com developed applications that enable residents and citizens to report and offer local government information regarding all forms of civic issues, ranging from graffiti to potholes, fly tipping, broken street lights or pavements. People are able to accomplish such incognito or not, by uploading photos, and pinning them on the street map. Such report is transferred to councils and progress tracking of the issue is done online. This typical example shows how technology facilitates citizens to play their role as council inspectors providing free service to their communities and the government too, minimizing inspection costs.
Today, it is anticipated that government should be transparent, accountable and quicker in its responses. This makes the utilisation of ICT overbearing in any agenda towards attaining good governance. This has also resulted in smart public service technologies used to attain a number of intentions and leading to quicker and more justifiable development that is widespread.
The use of Information and Communications Technology is not limited to restructuring of government procedures in government entities but it also promotes information flow and services in and between various government entities. This form of interaction is limited to government sphere and can be horizontal (between various government entities and between various functional areas in an organisation) or vertical (between local, provincial and national government agencies and between various levels in an organisation). The main aim is to promote efficiency.
Also, the use of e-Governance tools helps business community (who are providers of both goods and services) to flawlessly engage with the government, which is part of smart public service. The aim is to eradicate red tape, decrease operational costs, save time and to develop transparent business atmosphere when interacting with the government.
Government is the largest employer and much like any enterprise, it must relate with its employees regularly. The collaboration is a 2-way between the employee and the organisation. Through the use of ICT tools in public service helps make these interactions quick and efficient on one hand and promote satisfaction in employees on the other hand.
Smartphones and Social media facilitate interaction between governments and citizens on the go. Smart technologies also increase communication and participation of the public through communities of interest. For instance, to fight crime, citizens need to collaborate with police in checking and recording suspicious happenings. Recently, this has also been happening in various other areas of civic duty.
It is my opinion that the application of ICT in governance together with elaborate business process reengineering will result in simplification of intricate processes, elimination of redundant procedures, simplification of structures and alterations in regulations and statutes. The end result will be simplification of government functions, improved decision making capabilities and better efficiency throughout e-government.
Some actual problems
Governments everywhere are facing an intimidating paradox. On one hand, they function in a gradually complex atmosphere and ought to deliver on an increasing set of policy aims. In a world pigeonholed by macroeconomic vagueness, speedy social transformation, and technological innovation, residents’ expectations toward the government are increasing. On the other hand, faced with shrinking budgets and unsustainable debt burdens, governments are at a disadvantage. The proportion of government debt against gross domestic product for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member states now surpasses 100%. Meanwhile, public trust toward government is decreasing. Against this background, governments must not only do more with considerably less, but also do so in extremely visible ways, for them to regain public trust.
Critism & controversies
Although ICT systems are at the core of e-government procedures, efforts are needed to guarantee that they continually improve delivery of e-government services.