Managing Scale and Complexity: Putting e-governance into Action
The information age is characterized by intense innovation and technological advancements and a high level of infiltration of modern technological platforms in all spheres of life. Governments feel an overwhelming pressure when adopting modern technology in provision of quality services to all the citizens. The adoption of e-government services by most governments is as a result of the need to provide an increased portfolio of public services to citizens in the most efficient and cost effective way. Al-Khouri (2012) identifies the main benefits that are associated with the adoption of e-government, namely these are an improved accessibility of public services, improved transparency and accountability in service delivery and improved quality of services. The adoption of e-governance services has become a norm rather than an exception. Specifically, the young generation has shown a lot of interest in applying technology when performing their daily activities. As such, an intense pressure is made on the governments globally to initiate the ways that can provide those services in a more effective and convenient manner. This discussion highlights the modern governance trends that involve the application of e-governance as a measure taken by the governments to facilitate effectively and timely provision of public services to all citizens.
Application of E-governance in the Best Way
A new culture is emerging and traditional methods of service delivery appear. The new generation is putting a lot of pressure on governments to initiate modern and more effective service delivery platforms in replacing traditional bureaucracies that are peculiar to older generations (Salem, 2014). In today’s world, the adoption of technology in governance that is commonly referred to as e-governance has made it possible for citizens to easily access the services at the convenience of their homes with a click of a button. Citizens can simply log on to the internet and access government related services like online tax return submission, registration for passports and renewal of driving licenses among other services. The queues that were associated with the earlier generations have disappeared as citizens no longer need to physically visit government offices to get public services. The change that is observed in the modern service delivery is a clear justification of the fact that theInternet has effectively transformed the manner in which citizens consume public services (Salem, 2014).
The demands of new generation can hardly be met without heavy investment in creation of a robust e-governance infrastructure. The already developed and developing economies have shown a great interest in investing in modern technological infrastructure so as to facilitate the ease of accessing and consuming public services.The adoption of e-government services is intended to provide an increased portfolio of public services to citizens in the most efficient and cost effective way (Al-Khouri, 2012). Despite the remarkable benefits that are associated with e-government, there is a substantial evidence to show that the journey on the way of e-governance adoption is not a smooth ride. With the challenges in mind, it is essential for governments to seek political good will, boost their technological infrastructure, improve their citizens’ understanding and avail enough human and financial resources to perfectly execute their e-governance plan.
Challenges Encountered in Adoption of E-governance
The governments, however, have recorded a lot of improvements after the adoption of e-governance. Although, there are some common challenges that are encountered by virtually all e-governance initiatives. These challenges can be demonstrated on the example of Middle East countries like the UAE (Salem, 2014). They are generalized as an inadequate capacity to conceptualize e-governance projects, poor coordination mechanisms that can hardly facilitate an effective implementation and slow pace of service delivery. Most governments have registered a big difference between the conceptualization of e-governance projects and their actual implementation. Some countries also face a lack of trained personnel that can provide a proper education to government officials operating in remote areas as well as a lack of a supportive infrastructure.
Best Practices for Ensuring Success of E-governance Projects
E-governance projects have largely been successful in the Middle East. It would be necessary to have the best practices from these successful projects documented and widely shared to facilitate an effective learning by other governments that are still struggling with the adoption of e-governance. When structuring the e-governance framework, it is necessary to consider the level of skill’s availability, literacy levels, available infrastructure, computer literacy and possibility to conduct the training for technological awareness and acceptability improvement. For success to be realized in the implementation of e-governance projects, the e-governance framework should be designed with a close consideration of a number of principles (Salem, 2014).
It is vital to ensure that the vision of the e-governance initiative is clearly articulated. A clearly stated vision will provide a guideline to be followed in the implementation stage. It is also crucial to have clearly stated objectives so as to ensure that the government is fully aware of the goal. In other words, it should make all necessary preparations in terms of resource allocation and cater for the necessary investments to facilitate the e-governance initiatives. It is also important to have clearly articulated focus areas. The key focus areas for an e-governance project can include the need to improve a service delivery or to boost an internal efficiency.
It is also important to put the necessary infrastructure in place. For the e-governance initiative, the vital infrastructure can include e-payment systems, databases, and portals. Any failure at implementing the infrastructure can hinder the citizens with an effective access to government services online (Salem, 2014). In addition, any government that observes success in implementation of e-governance must also have an effective implementation plan. It is because of the complexity of e-governance initiatives, as they demand a provision of enabling components like software, hardware, and network. It is essential to ensure that an implementation strategy includes clear procedures on how to leverage the available IT support infrastructure. The last essential principle is governance. It begins after the start of implementation stage, and it helps in monitoring and coordinating an entire implementation process. Governance also helps to execute such duties like establishing a framework for policy guidelines and definition and allocation of roles. Besides, successful implementation of e-governance can hardly be achieved without political good will, positive attitude, and discipline of government officials (Salem, 2014).
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After keenly considering the underlying principles of success in e-governance implementation, it is necessary for governments to measure their level of success in their initiatives. This feature is based on the impact that e-governance has on the society. It can be achieved by thorough examination of e-governance ability to facilitate a cost reduction for citizens in their attempts to access public services. Other indicators of success in e-governance application is the quality of service delivery, less money spent on the trips that common citizens have to make to get those services, reduction in corruption and increased transparency in service delivery (Salem, 2014).
E-governance in the Middle East
The international ranking indicates that regions in the Middle East are holding a leading position in adoption and implementation of e-governance. Despite the obstacles met in the initiatives, the Middle East countries have realized remarkable milestones as depicted by the United Nations e-government survey that was conducted in 2014 (Salem, 2014).
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there has been a remarkable increase in social media use where it has reached the 60% mark of the entire population (Al-Khouri, 2012). According to Al-Khouri (20120, UAE government took advantage of its citizens wide use of social media. Moreover, the country benefitted from its enabling infrastructure and readiness of its citizens to adopt technology in provision and access of public services.
The United Nations report shows that the UAE is ranked 124th in adopting e-government, while Bahrain is ranked 18th on the global platform. The Global Information Technology Report 2014 also indicates that countries in the Middle East region have recorded a remarkable progress in preparing the foundation for e-governance. The report also refers to the Network Readiness Index (NRI) to estimate how countries apply ICT in boosting their competitiveness and improving their citizens’ living standards (Salem, 2014).
The UAE government also has a vision of developing ICT as an initiative that is intended at facilitating diversification of the local economy. With the launch of the ‘My E-Identity’ initiative, the UAE has made it easy for its citizens to access all government services through a single electronic login via their smartphones or the Internet. The government of Dubai, however, offers more than 2,000 electronic services (Salem, 2014). Consequently, these services reduce the costs citizens tend to spend whenever they need the government services. The country also has an effective mobile payment system that allows paying the bills or fines more effectively and conveniently.
Generally, e-government facilitates an improved citizen engagement in policy formulation and implementation. Currently, e-participation is recognized and appreciated to be a vital undertaking that enhances efficiency of country’s development. For example, by use of Ubiquitous ICT, the UAE government has achieved a huge success in engaging its citizens in programs and in seeking their opinion on vital societal issues. A recent research showed that the UAE occupies the 13th place on the global platform in the UN e-participation index (Salem, 2014).