Online Public Service in Bangladesh

23/08/2014

“Yes, I have used an online service in my country. My name is Javed Hussan and my country is Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a developing country of South East Asia. It has large populations with different problems like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, gender inequality and corruption. Corruption in the public service sector becomes a common phenomenon in this country. Bribe, nepotism, favoritism and red-tapism are regular activities of government service providers. The Public Administration of Bangladesh is not accountable, transparent, effective and efficient. The traditional administrative system is still alive in the field of service providing. As a result, People of Bangladesh are facing difficulties in time of getting services from the government offices. Use of computer and internet in Bangladesh is very popular and usages of these have increased rapidly recently. The current government is working to provide services to the people via online. To make the administration accountable, transparent, effective and efficient government takes some initiatives for establishing e-government.  Although, the government isn’t able to provide all services to people via online. Few services are providing via online now. Application for the passport of Bangladesh is one of the services which is providing via online. Someone can apply for a passport via online. He or she must fulfill the application form online. The applicant must pay the charge in person. Then he or she must bring it to the passport office for digital fingerprint, signature and photo taking. Police verification occurs before making the passport. When the work of passport making is finished, a sms send to the applicant mobile number to receive his or her passport. The applicant must go to the office where he did apply; it may be a regional passport office or central passport office. This is the process of getting a passport via online in Bangladesh. But it is not fully online based. Applicant can’t give his or her application charge via online, he has to go selected Banks in person or need to send someone to Banks for paying the money or charge. Then the applicant needs to go passport office for giving the finger print. Before giving the finger print an employee of a desk check the printed out application. If applicants don’t give bribe to him, he never let the applicant to go for finger print taking room at first time even everything okay. He wants to harass the applicants for the bribe. After finger print, police verification is essential. Every applicant has to give bribes to the police for the verification. This is mandatory still now. Applicant can’t receive his or her passport within the specific time, which is specified by the government. But who gives bribe him or she can get it within the time-frame or before ending the deadline. Some brokers are still working in the passport office because the application process is still traditional along with the online application system.

So, from the above discussion, it is clear to us that this service is not fully online based. Bangladesh government is trying to provide its services to the people via online. But its capacity and infrastructural current condition don’t support. Application of passport is one of the efforts of the government to provide services to the people via online. Although, it isn’t fully online based but it reduces the harassment of the people to some extent.” - Javed Hussan – Sylhet, Bangladesh


Transparency and Access to Public Information to the Brazilian Citizens

22/08/2014

“The present article discusses the Brazilian law of access to information as a way to enforce government transparency, focusing on a descriptive content overview, the government initiatives to support its compliance and the main challenges imposed by the law’s enactment. It concludes presenting some statistics results, published by e-SIC, an e-government platform designed to facilitate and speed citizen’s request.

Since the second half of the 80’s, the Brazilian Parliament and the Federal Government have enacted several norms and regulations in order to guarantee the access to data and public information. From the Federal Constitution to laws and federal decrees, these norms and regulations are consistent with the policies of active transparency.

The Federal Constitution states (article 5, 37 and 216) that every Brazilian citizen has the right to receive from the Public Departments and Institutions information of their personal interest, or collective and general interest. If not provided within a period established by law, these institutions and their managers will suffer the penalties imposed by law.

Along the years, several laws came to reinforce the obligation. However, in 2012 the Law n. 12.527, also called Lei de Acesso à informação (LAI), finally, came to introduce concrete mechanisms, allowing any person, without no need to present any motivation or reason, to receive public information from governmental entities. The law includes Federal, State and local governments, the three Republic Powers (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary), the Accounting Tribunals and Prosecution office.

In order to guarantee effectively the access to public information, the LAI based on a set of established standards, international practices and principles. First, the access is the rule, secret is the exception, it means the all-public information must be publicly available. Second, it is not compulsory to state the reasons for any specific request. Third, there is no charge applied and the government should be proactive or strive for active transparency, meaning that the government must publish information of general beforehand.

Following the LAI enactment, the government adopted many actions to provide support for complete execution. These actions included training of the public servants, including the publishing of manual to reinforce the LAI importance, objectives and explanations of the full content. The government also deployed and launched an e-government application, called e-SIC, a one-point service to easy the process of information request, follow-up and answer.

As for the National states, Minas Gerais and São Paulo, for instance, implemented similar digital platforms. However, Rio de Janeiro state lags behind, turning it compulsory to the citizen having all the requests presented and signed in person. The same happens for the majority of local governments.

Since the implementation in May 2012, the e-SIC had published on the internet some statistics regarding the amount of requests, answers, and main category of information required. The major request relates to Government Policies, Economics and Finance, summing up 18%. From May 2012 to July 2014, requests increased from average 6,902 to 7,381. The average response time is 13.2 to 13.6 days. Around 9.5% of the requests has the answer period extended. However, around 98% of them are answered in time. Although no data is available to compare the positive results of the law compliance, at least for the Federal Government the e-SIC statistics seems to appoint to a high level of compliance.

The challenges are still enormous though, spanning the improvement of document and information management processes (creation, record, internal flow and storage of document and information) to change in cultural values and the awareness increase of the law importance by government managers and civil public servants. ” -  Nilson Rodrigues de Assis – Brasilia, Brazil


UN E-Government Survey 2014 – Where India Stands

21/08/2014

“In this article I have tried to discuss what UN E-Government Survey, Survey Methodology is and where India stands in the UN E-Government Survey 2014.

What is UN E-Government Survey?

UN conducts survey among its 193 member countries to assess the e-government development status. This survey is usually conducted every 2 years by the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). This survey helps various Governments in their decision making process in formulating policies and strategies related to e-Governance. This survey helps Governments, through e-Governance initiatives, to provide their citizens efficient, effective and transparent access to public service and also helps in citizen participation. Recently the full report of UN E-Government Survey 2014 results has been published and the same is available online in the UNPAN web site http://www.unpan.org. This e-Government Survey 2014 was completed with the support of 95 researchers around the world.

The UN E-Government Survey measures the e-governance development status in its member countries through EGDI (E-Government Development Index). EGDI has 3 components- Online Service Index (OSI), Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII) and Human Capital Index (HCI). Online Service Index (OSI) measures the online presence of the Government and online services available to the citizens. Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII) measures the status or availability of various Telecommunication Infrastructures in the country through which citizens can access online services. Similarly, Human Capital Index (HCI) measures the education level of the citizens that will help them in accessing the online services. 

How E-Government Development Index (EGDI) is calculated?

The UN E-Government Development Index (EGDI) is a composite index based on the weighted average of three normalized indices where 1/3 is derived from an Online Service Index(OSI), 1/3 from a Telecommunications Infrastructure Index(TII), 1/3 from a Human Capital Index(HCI). The Online Service Index(OSI) is based upon a four-stage model, which is ascending in nature and builds upon the previous level of sophistication of a state’s online presence. (1. Emerging, 2. Enhanced, 3. Transactional, and 4. Connected). The Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII) is a composite weighted average index of five primary indices based on basic infrastructural parameters, which define a country’s ICT infrastructure capacity. The Human Capital Index(HCI) is a weighted average composite of four indicators: adult literacy rate, combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio, estimated years of schooling, and mean years of schooling.

Though India is the largest democracy in the world with the need for effective and transparent public governance, it stood at 118th position in the recent UN E-Government Survey 2014 with an E-Government Development Index (EGDI) of 0.3834.  As per the Survey results, Online Service Index (OSI), Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII) and Human Capital Index (HCI) for India were 0.5433, 0.1372 and 0.4698 respectively. India has performed very poorly in the UN E-Government Survey 2014. India should make more solid efforts to make the e-Governance projects more effective to provide her citizens efficient, effective and transparent access to public services that the citizens deserve.” - Srihari Subudhi – New Delhi, India 


Learner’s Submission: Strategy Recommended to Increase User Demand for RBME Information in Newborn Care Health Project

04/08/2014

“I work for a Newborn Care Health Project which aims at contributing towards the Millennium Development Goal 4 i.e Reducing Child Mortality. We work closely with the government where the Inputs based monitoring is still the norm and the focus on results based monitoring and evaluation is very limited. Following strategy is recommended for increasing demand for Result Based Monitoring & Evaluation (RBME) information in the organization:

  1. Hire an RBME Expert as a consultant who can guide the organization in shifting from the current Input and Activity Based Monitoring system to RBME system.
  2. Identification of all stakeholders who are currently interested in the attainment of project objectives and who are the potential users of RBME information viz.
  • Department of Medical Health & Family Welfare
  • Department of Medical Education
  • Department of Women Empowerment & social Justice

International Agencies

  • UNICEF
  • UNDP

Non Government Organizations and Civil Society Organizations

Local Politicians, elected members of Parliament and members of the State

Legislative Assembly

  1. Orientation of all project staff including Junior, Middle and Senior staff so that a clear understanding of the cause and effect relationship develops.
  2. Develop a Logical Framework for the programme which will help in understanding how the inputs, activities, results. Realization that achievement of outputs is in the direct control of management and they are expected to guarantee it. Further, try to understand that what are the outcomes and Impacts and what all may contribute towards them. The knowledge of Risks and assumptions along with the Objectively verifiable indicators and means of verification.
  3. Develop a Result Based Monitoring Framework and discuss in detail about the critical indicators, the data sources, data collection methods, frequency and other related aspects.
  4. Sensitize all stakeholders in the Logical Framework and Performance Measurement Framework.
  5. Prepare a plan for monitoring of project as per RBME.
  6. Prepare monthly progress reports based on the RBME approach. As this would be deviation from the Input Based reporting give sufficient time to staff to understand these reports.
  7. Review the progress every month with Project Teams to assess how the teams are understanding the whole process and whether they are finding it useful. Get their feedback and document it. This may be used to guide better implementation.
  8. Prepare RBME based quarterly progress reports
  9. Review the progress every three months with all stakeholders to assess how the teams are understanding the whole process and whether they are finding it useful.
  10. Based on the quarterly review try to find whether there are areas that need to be evaluated. If need is felt than appropriate evaluation should be planned.
  11. Initiate reward and recognition system for those units which are efficiently using the RBME approach.
  12. Build capacities of staff in units where the RBME is not being used appropriately or adequately.
  13. Discourage Input Based Reporting or Activity Reporting at middle and higher level in the organization as this tends to shift focus away from the results.

Do an annual assessment of the organizations performance post adoption of the RBME approach.” - Pradeep Choudhry – Rajasthan, India


Learner’s Submission: Is There Any End to Corruption in India? (Achhe Din Kab Ayenge ?)

23/07/2014

India wants young people of ethics, youths of ethics. That will bring beauty in character and harmony in homes. We must have a corruption-free Nation. – Former President of India, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam.

Corruption has been defined by the World Bank as the ‘use of public office for private profit’. We may feel ashamed, but the reality is that India is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. As per Transparency International Report (2013), India ranks 94 among 177 nations in Corruption Perception Index. Indian media has widely published allegations of corrupt Indian citizens stashing trillions of dollars in Swiss banks. Many of the biggest scandals since the year 2010 have involved very high level government officials, including Cabinet Ministers and Chief Ministers, such as in the 2G spectrum scam (1760 billion), the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam (700 billion), the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai, the Coal Mining Scam (1860 billion), the Mining Scandal in Karnataka and the Cash for Vote scam.

In our country, even after 67 years of Independence, many people in remote villages still have no option but to live without Roads, Electricity or drinking water; forget about education, health care or a decent life. This is a good example of how common people are affected due to corruption in the country. Many corrupt officials, allegedly politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen have kept black money in Swiss Banks as reported in News Papers/National Media. In our country, there are five major players on the corruption scene, interdependent, strengthening and supportive of the vicious cycle. They are the neta, the corrupt politician; the babu, the corrupt bureaucrat; the lala, the corrupting businessman; the jhola, the corrupt NGO; and the dada, the criminal of the underworld. Corruption in our country has made the rich richer and the poor poorer, thereby creating a huge imbalance in the society.

The causes of corruption in India include excessive regulations, complicated government processes, illogical taxes and licensing systems, numerous government departments each with opaque bureaucracy and discretionary powers, monopoly by government controlled institutions on certain goods and services delivery, and the lack of transparent laws and processes. Many of the Government processes and laws are still in practice since British period. The various Government processes were earlier framed during British period with intention of harassing the citizens and such processes are still in use! Government should phase out such obsolete processes and frame new laws and introduce new processes that are relevant to present context, taking full advantage of Information and Communication (ICT).

Corruption can be eliminated or at least reduced to great extend with the introduction of appropriate citizen-centric E-Governance Projects. Country’s Unique ID (Aadhaar) Project can be a game-changer in implementing various citizen-centric e-governance projects. As per a PMO (Prime Minister Office) official, “India can save up to Rupees 50,000 Crores a year by making all subsidy or welfare related payments only through the fail-proof Aadhaar mode”. Unique ID Aadhaar has the capability to establish the identity of a person that he claims to be through his UID Number & his biometric data. Government can delivery various services to its citizens directly by eliminating all middle-men.

“Corruption” was one of the primary issues around which the recent General Election 2014 was fought. The People of India have great expectations from the new Government led by the Prime Minister  Mr. Narendra Modi. It is a huge challenge for Mr. Modi to take suitable measures to fight corruption. The so-called “good days” will be a reality for the People of India only when there is an end to corruption in India. (Achhe din tab ayenge jab Bharat puri tarah vrasthachar mukt ho payegi).” - Srihari Subudhi – New Delhi, India 


Learner’s Submission: Citizen Engagement in Public Governance for the Realization of the Millennium Development Goals

22/07/2014

“Citizen engagement facilitates inclusive decision making that enables more complete fulfilment of the democratic right to influence government systems, policies and processes.  It entails citizen involvement in “a wide range of policymaking activities … in order to orient government programs toward community needs.”[i]  Consequently, citizen engagement helps to produce equitable and long-lasting development benefits and promotes good governance.

The Committee System at the Jamaican Parliament provides an avenue for the exercise of good governance through citizen engagement in the legislative process.  The operation of the committees in this respect rises to the level of consultation on the continuum conceptualized by the International Association of Public Participation.[ii]  The Parliament refers matters to the committees, which may then issue public notices inviting comments.  They may also write directly to entities that have an interest in the subject.  Those who respond are sometimes called upon to appear before the committees which may incorporate their views into their reports to Parliament.[iii]

Not only does the Parliament seek to practice good governance through citizen engagement; it plays a greater role in advancing this ideal by considering and approving enabling legislation and other relevant documents.  Good governance requires transparency, as reflected in media freedom and the exchange and free flow of information.[iv]  Hence, the Millennium Declaration contains a pledge to “ensure the freedom of the media to perform their essential role and the right of the public to have access to information.”[v]  Further, target 8A under MDG8 is to “develop further an open, rule based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system.”[vi]   Parliamentary consideration of documents relating to transparency and improving the financial system has benefited from citizen participation in parliamentary committees.

At least fourteen civil society groups, representing the media, the library fraternity, the legal profession, civil servants, the private sector, human rights organizations and others, made contributions to the deliberations of the Joint Select Committee on the Access to Information Bill, which submitted its report to Parliament in March of 2002.  The report reflects that the bill “seeks to preserve certain fundamental principles underlying the system of constitutional democracy, namely, governmental accountability, transparency, and public participation in national decision-making.”[vii]  As regards citizen’s contributions to the deliberations, it is stated, among other things, that “strong representation was made by various special interest groups…that no fees should be charged for the application to access an official document” (p. 10).  It appears from the proposal in the committee’s report that the words ‘prescribed fee paid or payable in respect of an application’ be deleted from clause 12 of the Bill (Appendix 1) that they accepted this recommendation.

The Report of the Joint Select Committee on the Report on the Review of Jamaica’s Defamation Law[viii] reveals that entities with an interest in communication were invited to make presentations and the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), the Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ) and a private telecommunications firm accepted the invitation (p. 2).  Recommendations in the review committee’s report that were endorsed by the MAJ include abolition of the distinction between libel and slander (p. 4) and removal of the offence of criminal libel (p. 9); these changes were drafted into the Defamation Bill (2011) at clauses 6 and 7, respectively.[ix]

The committee that considered a green paper on tax reform and submitted a report to Parliament in 2012[x] received numerous comments in submissions from 23 entities (pp. 1-2; 12-34), with a proposal for the removal of discretionary waivers receiving the most attention from civil society (pp. 25-29).  Additionally, the committee on the Banking Services Bill (2014) indicated in its report[xi] that the bill seeks to remove legislative inconsistencies relating to various types of deposit-taking institutions even while preserving their distinctive character, and to grant rule making powers to the Bank of Jamaica (p. 4).  Five non-governmental entities made submissions on the bill.  While the sources of specific ideas are not identified in the report, with amendments to 94 clauses and 8 schedules plus the insertion of three new clauses, it may be assumed that citizen participation had some impact on the committee’s decisions.

The consultative function of parliamentary committees permits citizen engagement while building the legislative framework for an inclusive and transparent democracy as envisaged in the Millennium Declaration.  The examples above illustrate their role in creating mechanisms to improve press freedom, access to information and the regulation of the financial system, all of which are embodied in commitments made under MDG8.  Notwithstanding resource constraints, the Committee System remains a key factor in the drive to achieve good governance in Jamaica.” - Tracy Cohen – Wisconsin, United States

Footnote

[i] UN Public Administration Glossary. “Citizen Participation.”
[ii] UN Public Administration Glossary. “Citizen Participation.”
[iii] Standing Orders of the House of Representatives of Jamaica, 1964 as amended 2007, Orders 68-80. http://www.japarliament.gov.jm/images/pdf/STANDING-ORDERS-OF-THE-HOUSE.pdf
[iv] UN Public Administration Glossary. “Good Governance.”
[v] United Nations (2000). Millennium Declaration (2000). paragraph 25.
[vi] United Nations (2008) Official List of MDG Indicators.
[vii] Houses of Parliament (2002) Report of the Joint Select Committee to Consider and Report on the Bill shortly entitled, “The Access to Information Act, 2002” http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/programs/ai/rti/international/laws_papers/jamaica/Report%20of%20the%20Joint%20Select%20Committee%20on%20The%20Access%20to%20Information%20Act.pdf
[viii] Houses of Parliament (2010) http://www.japarliament.gov.jm/attachments/540_Report%20of%20the%20Joint%20Select%20Committee%20To%20Consider%20and%20Report%20on%20the%20Report%20on%20the%20Review%20of%20Jamaica's%20Defamation%20Law.pdf
[ix] Houses of Parliament (2011) http://www.japarliament.gov.jm/attachments/339_Defamation%20Act%202.pdf
[x] Houses of Parliament (2012) http://www.japarliament.gov.jm/attachments/744_Report%20of%20the%20Special%20Select%20Committee%20on%20Green%20Paper%20(Tax%20Reform%20for%20Jamaica).pdf
[xi] Houses of Parliament (2014) http://www.japarliament.gov.jm/attachments/1289_Banking%20Services%20JSC%20Report.pdf

Learner’s Submission: Anti-Corruption Authorities and Citizens Involvement

22/07/2014

“Activities to involve citizens that are initiated and managed by anti-corruption authorities differ initiated and managed by citizen groups and NGOs. For one, the anti-corruption authorities are statutory bodies with the attendant legal and law enforcing authority. They are legitimate and have both national and international backing, which citizen groups and NGOs do not have, although they may have some sympathy for exercising their courses. Nonetheless, the anti-corruption authorities need citizen’s cooperation and trust for their programmes to succeed.

Anti-corruption authorities may respond to the context through public education campaign about the extent and consequences of corruption on the economy, exacerbating poverty, deprivation, etc., creating a platform for citizens to report acts of corruption, jailing of some key officials as a way to setting examples to show that the agency is serious. The anti-corruption agencies can also educate the citizenry about what they want achieve in the fight. They could seek their ideas through surveys which could also touch on sensitive issues around traditions and culture. The citizens fully understand the context in which corruption thrives, the magnitude of the vice, the most vulnerable and at risk public departments, because they experience it almost on a daily basis so they can help the authorities in formulating policies against corruption. Once the policies and laws are formulated and enacted, full compliance will be required and penalties applied for breach.

Because citizen groups and NGOs do not have the legal tenacity, they can only apply pressure through campaigns and mass mobilization – which may take different shape, to push through their agendas. Issues that citizen groups and NGOs may likely address are those that directly impact on citizen’s daily lives such as extortion, bribery, massive unemployment, inflation, poor standards of living, etc. which are less far what the anti-corruption agencies will address.” Robert Palmer – Bonn, Germany


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