E-Government (short for electronic government, also known as e-gov, digital government, online government, or connected government) is digital interactions between a government and citizens (G2C), government and businesses/Commerce (G2B), government and employees (G2E), and also between government and governments /agencies (G2G). Essentially, the e-Government delivery models can be briefly summed up as (Jeong, 2007):
- G2C (Government to Citizens)
- G2B (Government to Businesses)
- G2E (Government to Employees)
- G2G (Government to Governments)
- C2G (Citizens to Governments)
This digital interaction consists of governance, information and communication technology (ICT), business process re-engineering (BPR), and e-citizen at all levels of government (city, state/provence, national, and international).
‘E-Government' (or Digital Government) is defined as ‘The employment of the Internet and the world-wide-web for delivering government information and services to the citizens.’ (United Nations, 2006; AOEMA, 2005).
'Electronic Government' (or in short 'e-Government') essentially refers to ‘The utilization of IT, ICTs, and other web-based telecommunication technologies to improve and/or enhance on the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery in the public sector.’ (Jeong, 2007).
E-government describes the use of technologies to facilitate the operation of government and the disbursement of government information and services. E-government, short for electronic government, deals heavily with Internet and non-internet applications to aid in governments. E-government includes the use of electronics in government as large-scale as the use of telephones and fax machines, as well as surveillance systems, tracking systems such as RFID tags, and even the use of television and radios to provide government-related information and services to the citizens.
Examples of e-Government and e-Governance
E-Government should enable anyone visiting city website to communicate and interact with city employees via the Internet with graphical user interfaces (GUI), instant-messaging (IM), audio/video presentations, and in any way more sophisticated than a simple email letter to the address provided at the site” and “the use of technology to enhance the access to and delivery of government services to benefit citizens, business partners and employees”. The focus should be on:
- The use of Information and communication technologies, and particularly the Internet, as a tool to achieve better government.
- The use of information and communication technologies in all facets of the operations of a government organization.
- The continuous optimization of service delivery, constituency participation and governance by transforming internal and external relationships through technology, the Internet and new media.
Whilst e-Government has traditionally been understood as being centered around the operations of government, e-Governance is understood to extend the scope by including citizen engagement and participation in governance. As such, following in line with the OECD definition of e-Government, e-Governance can be defined as the use of ICTs as a tool to achieve better governance.
Delivery models and activities of e-Government
The primary delivery models of e-Government can be divided into:
- Government-to-Citizen or Government-to-Consumer (G2C)
- In this model, the G2C model apply the strategy of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) with business concept.
- By managing their customer (citizen) relationship, the business (government) can provide the needed products and services fulfill the needs from customer (citizen).
- In United States, the NPR (National Partnership for Reinventing Government) has been implemented from 1993.
- Government-to-Business (G2B)
- Government-to-Government (G2G)
- Government-to-Employees (G2E)
- pushing information over the Internet, e.g.: regulatory services, general holidays, public hearing schedules, issue briefs, notifications, etc.
- two-way communications between the agency and the citizen, a business, or another government agency. In this model, users can engage in dialogue with agencies and post problems, comments, or requests to the agency.
- conducting transactions, e.g.: lodging tax returns, applying for services and grants.
- governance, e.g.: To enable the citizen transition from passive information access to active citizen participation by:
- Informing the citizen
- Representing the citizen
- Encouraging the citizen to vote
- Consulting the citizen
- Involving the citizen
While e-government is often thought of as "online government" or "Internet-based government," many non-Internet "electronic government" technologies can be used in this context. Some non-Internet forms include telephone, fax, PDA, SMS text messaging, MMS, wireless networks and services, Bluetooth, CCTV, tracking systems, RFID, biometric identification, road traffic management and regulatory enforcement, identity cards, smart cards and other Near Field Communication applications; polling station technology (where non-online e-voting is being considered), TV and radio-based delivery of government services (e.g., CSMW), email, online community facilities, newsgroups and electronic mailing lists, online chat, and instant messaging technologies.
Controversies of e-Government
The main disadvantages concerning e-government is the lack of equality in public access to the internet, reliability of information on the web, and hidden agendas of government groups that could influence and bias public opinions.
There are many considerations and potential implications of implementing and designing e-government, including disintermediation of the government and its citizens, impacts on economic, social, and political factors, vulnerability to cyber attacks, and disturbances to the status quo in these areas. See also Electronic leviathan.
Increased contact between government and its citizens goes both ways. Once e-government begins to develop and become more sophisticated, citizens will be forced to interact electronically with the government on a larger scale. This could potentially lead to a lack of privacy for civilians as their government obtains more and more information on them. In a worse case scenario, with so much information being passed electronically between government and civilians, a totalitarian-like system could develop. When the government has easy access to countless information on its citizens, personal privacy is lost.
Although "a prodigious amount of money has been spent" on the development and implementation of e-government, some say it has yielded only a mediocre product. The outcomes and effects of trial Internet-based governments are often difficult to gauge or unsatisfactory. According to Gartner, Worldwide IT spending is estimated to total $3.6 trillion in 2011 which is 5.1% increase from the year 2010 ($3.4 trillion).
An e-government site that provides web access and support often does not offer the "potential to reach many users including those who live in remote areas, are homebound, have low literacy levels, exist on poverty line incomes."
False sense of transparency and accountability
Opponents of e-government argue that online governmental transparency is dubious because it is maintained by the governments themselves. Information can be added or removed from the public eye. To this day, very few organizations monitor and provide accountability for these modifications. Those that do so, like the United States’ OMBWatch  and Government Accountability Project, are often nonprofit volunteers. Even the governments themselves do not always keep track of the information they insert and delete.
The ultimate goal of the E-Government is to be able to offer an increased portfolio of public services to citizens in an efficient and cost effective manner. E-government allows for government transparency. Government transparency is important because it allows the public to be informed about what the government is working on as well as the policies they are trying to implement. Simple tasks may be easier to perform through electronic government access. Many changes, such as marital status or address changes can be a long process and take a lot of paper work for citizens. E-government allows these tasks to be performed efficiently with more convenience to individuals. E-government is an easy way for the public to be more involved in political campaigns. It could increase voter awareness, which could lead to an increase in citizen participation in elections. It is convenient and cost-effective for businesses, and the public benefits by getting easy access to the most current information available without having to spend time, energy and money to get it.
E-government helps simplify processes and makes access to government information more easily accessible for public sector agencies and citizens. For example, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles simplified the process of certifying driver records to be admitted in county court proceedings. Indiana became the first state to allow government records to be digitally signed, legally certified and delivered electronically by using Electronic Postmark technology. In addition to its simplicity, e-democracy services can reduce costs. Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Wal-Mart and NIC developed an online hunting and fishing license service utilizing an existing computer to automate the licensing process. More than 140,000 licenses were purchased at Wal-Mart stores during the first hunting season and the agency estimates it will save $200,000 annually from service.
The anticipated benefits of e-government include efficiency, improved services, better accessibility of public services, and more transparency and accountability.
One goal of e-government will be greater citizen participation. Through the internet, people from all over the country can interact with politicians or public servants and make their voices heard. Blogging and interactive surveys will allow politicians or public servants to see the views of the people they represent on any given issue. Chat rooms can place citizens in real-time contact with elected officials, their offices or provide them with the means to replace them by interacting directly with public servants, allowing voters to have a direct impact and influence in their government. These technologies can create a more transparent government, allowing voters to immediately see how and why their representation in the capital is voting the way they are. This helps voters better decide who to vote for in the future or how to help the public servants become more productive. A government could theoretically move more towards a true democracy with the proper application of e-government. Government transparency will give insight to the public on how decisions are made and hold elected officials or public servants accountable for their actions. The public could become a direct and prominent influence in government legislature to some degree.
Proponents of e-government argue that online government services would lessen the need for hard copy forms. Due to recent pressures from environmentalist groups, the media, and the public, some governments and organizations have turned to the Internet to reduce this paper use. The United States government utilizes the website http://www.forms.gov to provide “internal government forms for federal employees” and thus “produce significant savings in paper.
Speed, efficiency, and convenience
E-government allows citizens to interact with computers to achieve objectives at any time and any location, and eliminates the necessity for physical travel to government agents sitting behind desks and windows. Improved accounting and record keeping can be noted through computerization, and information and forms can be easily accessed, equaling quicker processing time. On the administrative side, access to help find or retrieve files and linked information can now be stored in databases versus hardcopies stored in various locations. Individuals with disabilities or conditions no longer have to be mobile to be active in government and can be in the comfort of their own homes.
Recent trials of e-government have been met with acceptance and eagerness from the public. Citizens participate in online discussions of political issues with increasing frequency, and young people, who traditionally display minimal interest in government affairs, are drawn to e-voting procedures.
Although internet-based governmental programs have been criticized for lack of reliable privacy policies, studies have shown that people value prosecution of offenders over personal confidentiality. Ninety percent of United States adults approve of Internet tracking systems of criminals, and fifty-seven percent are willing to forgo some of their personal internet privacy if it leads to the prosecution of criminals or terrorists.
There are also some technology-specific sub-categories of e-government, such as m-government (mobile government), u-government (ubiquitous government), and g-government (GIS/GPS applications for e-government.
E-government portals and platforms The primary delivery models of e-Government are classified depending on who benefits. In the development of public sector or private sector portals and platforms, a system is created that benefits all constituents. Citizens needing to renew their vehicle registration have a convenient way to accomplish it while already engaged in meeting the regulatory inspection requirement. On behalf of a government partner, business provides what has traditionally, and solely, managed by government and can use this service to generate profit or attract new customers. Government agencies are relieved of the cost and complexity of having to process the transactions.
To develop these public sector portals or platforms, governments have the choice to internally develop and manage, outsource, or sign a self-funding contract. The self-funding model creates portals that pay for themselves through convenience fees for certain e-government transactions, known as self-funding portals.
Social networking is an emerging area for e-democracy. The social networking entry point is within the citizens’ environment and the engagement is on the citizens’ terms. Proponents of e-government perceive government use of social networks as a medium to help government act more like the public it serves. Examples can be found at almost every state government portal through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube widgets.
Government and its agents also have the opportunity to follow citizens to monitor satisfaction with services they receive. Through ListServs, RSS feeds, mobile messaging, micro-blogging services and blogs, government and its agencies can share information to citizens who share common interests and concerns. Government is also beginning to Twitter. In the state of Rhode Island, Treasurer Frank T. Caprio is offering daily tweets of the state’s cash flow. Interested people can sign up at here. For a full list of state agencies with Twitter feeds, visit Real Life. Live document. For more information, visit transparent-gov.
UN e-Government Readiness Index
There are several international rankings of e-government maturity. The Eurostat rankings, Economist, Brown University, and the UN e-Government Readiness Index are among the most frequently cited. The United Nations Public Administration Network conducts a bi-annual e-Government survey which includes a section titled e-Government Readiness. It is a comparative ranking of the countries of the world according to two primary indicators: i) the state of e-government readiness; and ii) the extent of e-participation. Constructing a model for the measurement of digitized services, the Survey assesses the 191 member states of the UN according to a quantitative composite index of e-government readiness based on website assessment; telecommunication infrastructure and human resource endowment.
The following is the list of the top 50 countries according to the UN's 2010 e-Government Readiness Index.
Rank Country Index 1 South Korea 0.8785 2 United States 0.8510 3 Canada 0.8448 4 United Kingdom 0.8147 5 Netherlands 0.8097 6 Norway 0.8020 7 Denmark 0.7872 8 Australia 0.7863 9 Spain 0.7516 10 France 0.7510 11 Singapore 0.7476 12 Sweden 0.7474 13 Bahrain 0.7363 14 New Zealand 0.7311 15 Germany 0.7309 16 Belgium 0.7225 17 Japan 0.7152 18 Switzerland 0.7136 19 Finland 0.6967 20 Estonia 0.6965 21 Ireland 0.6866 22 Iceland 0.6697 23 Liechtenstein 0.6694 24 Austria 0.6679 25 Luxembourg 0.6672 26 Israel 0.6552 27 Hungary 0.6315 28 Lithuania 0.6295 29 Slovenia 0.6243 30 Malta 0.6129 31 Colombia 0.6125 32 Malaysia 0.6101 33 Czech Republic 0.6060 34 Chile 0.6014 35 Croatia 0.5858 36 Uruguay 0.5842 37 Latvia 0.5826 38 Italy 0.5800 39 Portugal 0.5787 40 Barbados 0.5714 41 Greece 0.5708 42 Cyprus 0.5705 43 Slovakia 0.5639 44 Bulgaria 0.5590 45 Poland 0.5582 46 Kazakhstan 0.5578 47 Romania 0.5479 48 Argentina 0.5467 49 United Arab Emirates 0.5349 50 Kuwait 0.5290
e-Government by country
Government to citizen
Public information in Canada is the subject of the Access to Information Act. VisibleGovernment.ca is a Canadian non-profit that promotes online tools for government transparency. There have been several ChangeCamps in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, with organizers coming together in Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, drawing many politicians. The city of Toronto mayor David Miller announced plans for an open city data portal at toronto.ca/open.
A collection of uses of social media in Canadian government can be found here.
Government to government
The current Clerk of the Privy Council - the head of the federal public service, has made workplace renewal a pillar of overall public service renewal. Key to workplace renewal is the adoption of collaborative networked tools. An example of such as tool is GCPEDIA - a wiki platform for federal public servants. Other tools include GCconnex, a social networking tool, and GCforums, a discussion board system.
eGovernment shows significant advancement in Europe. For more information see eGovernment in Europe.
In India, the e-Governance initiatives are broadly managed under the umbrella of the NeGP initiative.
In Middle East
In the United Arab Emirates, the Emirates eGovernment is designed for e-government operations.
In Pakistan, the Government of Pakistan's e-government directorate is committed to building a robust e-network framework that essentially allows the government to be more responsive in delivering public services to citizens and businesses.
In the United States
The election of Barack Obama as President of the United States has become associated with the effective use of Internet technologies during his campaign, and in the implementation of his new government in 2009.
On January 21, 2009, newly elected President Obama signed one of his first memorandums - the Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Transparency and Open Government In the memo, President Obama called for an unprecedented level of openness in Government, asking agencies to "ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration." The memo further "directs the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services (GSA), to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies [and] to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in the memorandum."
President Obama’s memorandum centered around the idea of increasing transparency throughout various different federal departments and agencies. By enabling public websites like recovery.gov and data.gov to distribute more information to the American population, the administration believes that it will gain greater citizen participation.
Recently, this initiative has crossed several key milestones and continues to make a significant amount of progress. Certain government information is still, and will continue to be, considered privileged, and this issue remains at the center of the debate.
Additionally, technology is still not accessible by all Americans. The National Broadband Plan hopes to counter this limit, but many Americans are still without access to internet, which would be required to use these services. Some Americans live in rural areas without access, while others are not financially able to support a connection.
e-Government – an alternative approach
Recent government policy updates have seen a shift away from e-Government towards a much more radical focus on transforming the whole relationship between the public sector and users of public services. This new approach is referred to as Transformational Government. Transformation programmes differ from traditional e-Government programmes in four major ways:
- They take a whole-of-government view of the relationship between the public sector and the citizen or business user.
- They include initiatives to e-enable the frontline public services: that is, staff involved in direct personal delivery of services such as education and healthcare – rather than just looking at transactional services which can be e-enabled on an end-to-end basis.
- They take a whole-of-government view of the most efficient way managing the cost base of government.
- They focus on the "citizen" not the "customer". That is, they seek to engage with the citizens as owners of and participants in the creation of public services, not as passive recipients of services.
- Application Service Provider
- Center for Electronic Governance at UNU-IIST
- Digital Government Society of North America
- Egovernment factsheets
- E-Government Unit
- Electronic services delivery
- Electronic voting
- Identity document
- International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance
- Knowledge policy
- National Center for Digital Governance
- Online consultation
- Online deliberation
- Open source governance
- Collaborative e-democracy
- Transformational Government
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- Government computerization at the Open Directory Project
- Digital Government Portal
- University of Illinois at Chicago e-Government Online Certificate Program
- University of Illinois at Chicago e-Government Workshop
- International Conference on Electronic Governance
- Center for Electronic Governance at UN University - IIST
- EGovernment at W3C
- e-Governance Academy
- Government Computing collected news and commentary at The Guardian
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