BFM2013_4_04_Defining e-government

Probably the most famous structured initiative to benefit from the use of technology in government is “re-inventing the government” in USA, launched by the first Clinton administration in 1993, managed by then Vice-President Gore.

E-government is generally defined as the use of ICT to transform the relationship between the government and citizens, businesses, and other parts of the government.

As a way to simplify the relationship between EU citizens and their governments, EU has sponsored different research projects, to exploit technologies as diverse as Internet, GSM, GPS, to both reduce the cost of governing and increase the services delivered to citizens.

One of the most recent examples is the PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) framework , which is one step further in EU integration, potentially enabling significant savings.

A common purpose of EU projects is to increase the visibility and the “valued added” perceived from EU citizens, that until now considered EU as a business related association.

Side-effects of EU initiatives as the Schengen agreement include easing mobility across EU territory- up to a point.

Most EU and EU-candidate countries are issuing regulations to ensure that any part of the state machinery, be it the local town council or the national health system, fully exploits new technologies to streamline the communication with citizens, while reducing costs and adding new services: and online social networks are increasingly part of the picture.

Also, most UE countries adopted the “subsidiarity” approach also in their internal distribution of powers, e.g. delegating decision-making as close as possible to where the results are produced.

At the same time, there has been a constant convergence on the regulatory system governing the behaviour of multinational companies, as discussed in the previous issue .

While the harmonization of these rules at the supra-national level is still in its embryonic phase, regulatory frameworks as Basel II/III and the OECD Guidelines for Governance are trying to shift the focus from a sanctioning system (whose acceptance requires a political mandate) to a common framework of accepted behaviours.

These rules try to ensure the smooth working of market economy by enhancing transparency, with rules focusing on governance, product and environmental quality standards, etc.
As forecast when this material was first prepared in 2004, it was only a matter of time before also corporations would be required to manage most communications with regulatory agencies and governments via the new technologies.

Using the same technologies also to manage the internal processes resulting in communication with regulatory agencies and governments would only make sound economic sense.

New staff and junior managers are now, in the early 2010s, well-versed in new technologies, and with a modicum of training and coaching could smoothly integrate your business processes with Government-sponsored systems and other online technologies to maximize the benefits while keeping risk and intrusive practices at a minimum.

Unfortunately, the key resistance to change is coming from decision-makers above them, who often state objections that sound more as a sign of fear of change, than of the changes by and for themselves.