Transforming Service Delivery Through E-Government
Nations across the world have been investing in e-government for a number of years now in a effort to better engage citizens in an increasingly technological age.
However, the almost unprecedented levels of pressure put on authorities during the global economic crisis mean that the imperative to use such platforms to deliver support services has increased.
The United Nations' (UN) E-government Survey 2010 identifies that such technology can give "agility to public service delivery to help governments respond to an expanded set of demands even as revenues fall short."
Since the UN last commissioned the survey, in 2008, the organisation has identified that efforts have been made in a number of middle-income countries to improve e-government services.
Yet, the list of the top 20 countries for e-development is still largely dominated by European and North American nations, despite the Republic of Korea topping the table.
News on e-government in order to improve service delivery, and e-government in Asia, are detailed below:
Using e-government to Improve Service Delivery
Improvements to e-government services can help mitigate some of the austerity measures which governments had to employ when the recession hit.
The organisation identifies that the number of e-government initiatives worldwide continues to grow - a trend that has been continuing steadily since the survey was first conducted in 2003.
Singapore, which uses e-government systems to improve the delivery of funds to its most in need citizens, was cited as a particular example, as were the UK and the United States.
However, the UN report claimed that many of the most successful e-government schemes only worked because the infrastructure needed was already in place.
Many of the world's less developed nations may not yet have the resources needed to allow their citizens to leverage e-government services. Access to broadband internet, and the means to pay for it, was identified as a key issue for the population of some countries.
The ability of members of the public to respond was also said to be a key component in service satisfaction.
"Public feedback and collaboration will not guarantee better service delivery but, at very little cost to the taxpayer, participatory methods can help policy makers set priorities, encourage more citizens to 'buy in' to programmes, increase satisfaction levels and thus augment the chances of successful policy outcomes," the report stated.
E-government in Asia
The figures from the UN report on e-government development may suggest that the practice is dominated by western nations. However, Asian countries have been making strides is using e-government to increase citizen participation and improve service delivery.
Dale Su, director of Information Management Office, Examination Yuan, speaking at a summit in China, explained that the Taiwanese authorities plan to form an "intelligent government" using technology, FutureGov reports.
Mr Su said that there were five stages in the implementation of the country's e-government policy, which have allowed it to gradually increase efficiency since 1998.
"They are citizen-centric and on-demand e-services, citizen participation through increasing transparency, mobile access to citizen services, social networking and web 2.0, and ICT-enabled green services.
"The third phase, called 'e-Taiwan', focused on the horizontal and vertical integration of e-services to improve efficiency," Mr Su was quoted by the news provider as saying.
Government online procurement and the tax portal were named as two strong examples of improved service delivery through e-government.
In late 2009, Oman launched its e-government portal, which the Sultanate accompanied with a goal to make a "significant improvement in the quality of services the government provides to its citizens."
Oman.om is available to all citizens in two languages and offers more than 600 services from 23 different agencies.
Dr Salim bin Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, the ITA's chief executive officer, said: "The portal is the result of a number of coordinated initiatives to make it a major outlet for information and government services. It will contribute towards creating an all-encompassing and dynamic information technology platform for the nation."