Learner’s Submission: E-Government for the Future We Want – A Case Study of Odisha, India

26/11/2014

“In this article, I have discussed the E-Governance initiatives of the Govt. of Odisha (India) and the emerging challenges in the E-Government Uptake.

What is e-Governance?

E-Governance is the application of information and communication technologies to transform the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of informational and transactional exchanges within the Government and between the Government (including Union, State, Local bodies etc.) and Citizens/businesses. The most common interactions in e-Governance is Government to Citizens (G2C), Citizen to Government (C2G), Government to Businesses (G2B) and Businesses to Government (B2G).

Odisha, formerly known as Orissa, with official web site www.odisha.gov.in, is an Indian state on the subcontinent’s eastern part, with 4.7 % of India’s landmass (8th largest state), 3.47 % of the India’s population (11th largest). Odisha is famous for its Puri (Shri Jagannath and Ratha Yatra), Konark and Temple City Bhubaneswar.

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(Image-1, Odisha State Assembly, Bhubaneshwar; Image Source: http://www.pragativadi.com/)

Major E-Governance Initiatives of Govt. of Odisha, India

To keep pace with the increased importance of e-Governance at national level, Government of Odisha took major e-Governance initiatives in early 2000s. The state took statewide planned initiatives which included development of ICT policies, infrastructure and software development to transform citizen centric service delivery in the state. The vision of ICT policy of Government of Odisha was to develop IT/ITES/ESDM industries for inclusive growth and employment in the state of Odisha and leverage IT & ITES in governance to transform the state to a knowledge driven welfare society by improving the service delivery to the citizens.

e-District Project (http://edistrictorissa.gov.in/)

One of the biggest e-Governance projects in the state is the e-District project which has been implemented in all the 30 districts. The e-District Project involved integrated and seamless delivery of citizen services by district administration through automation of workflow, back-end digitization, integration and process redesigning across participating sections/departments for providing services in a most efficient manner to the citizens. This project enables the people to access following seven crucial certificates through the online systems.

  1. Issuance of Residence Certificate
  2. Issuance of Caste Certificate
  3. Legal Heir Certificate
  4. Issuance of SEBC Certificate
  5. Issuance of Solvency Certificate
  6. Issuance of Income Certificate
  7. Issuance of OBC Certificate

All these certificates issued under e-District project can be verified online with the Certificate Barcode No. which is printed on each certificate.  The e-district odisha portal is available at http://edistrictorissa.gov.in/ in 3 languages – Odia (the native language of Odisha), Hindi and English.

Bhulekh (Land Record Web portal of Orissa) http://bhulekh.ori.nic.in/

Bhulekh provides online information on land records. It is an initiative taken up by Directorate of Land Records & Surveys, Government of Odisha. The system enables optimized maintenance of records and provides accurate copies of Records of Rights (ROR) to the landowners all across the state. The RoR Information for 171 Tehsils of Odisha is available online.

ITIMS (Integrated Transport Information Management System)

(http://www.odisha.gov.in/commerce_transport/)

The department of Commerce & Transport has implemented Integrated Transport Information Management System” (ITIMS), for automation of its processes. The project has been implemented at major RTA offices and check gates and is being replicated at other offices. This project involves issuance of Driving License via ‘Saarathi’, Issue of registration and permits for Motor vehicles via ‘Vaahan’ and Collection of Motor Vehicle Taxes via ‘Check Gate Computerization’.

Emerging Challenges in the E-Government Uptake

What is e-Government Uptake?

E-Government Uptake is a key measure of the degree to which the e-government services provision is actually used by the end-users. E-government uptake by the citizens is “the percentage of individuals (aged 16–74) who have used the Internet to interact with public authorities”, as measured by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other major organizations.

Challenges in E-Government Uptake in Odisha, India

The actual use of E-Government initiatives by the end-users seems to be very less in the State of Odisha, though I could not find any study in this regard to confirm the exact figures on the“E-Government Uptake” in Odisha. Low level of E-Government Uptake in Odisha is due to the following challenges:

  1. Typical Government attitude of employees in the Government offices/departments.
  2. Corruption by Government officials, Ministers, Businesses etc. (high level of corruption leading failures of various large projects/initiatives).
  3. Low level of participation by the people in the policy formulation & implementation, leading to huge gap in what should-be and what is actually delivered.
  4. Involvement of Middlemen/Dalals/Mafias in Government service delivery, who intentionally delay project implementation or create gap between Government and Citizens so that they can benefit out of this gap.
  5. Lack of will power and vision by the political leaders (irrespective of political party).
  6. Improper co-ordination among various authorities/agencies implementing the projects.
  7. Lack of awareness among the people to avail various e-Governance services (demand side barrier)” - Srihari Subudhi – New Delhi, India 

Learner’s Submission: Strengthening the System Of Decentralised Governance in Jamaica

24/11/2014

“In Ministry Paper No. 8 of 1993, “Reform of Local Government”, the policy of the Government of Jamaica in respect of decentralisation is clearly stated: “Government’s policy on Local Government is based on the conviction that … a strong and vibrant system of Local Government is essential to the attainment of a society in which all citizens enjoy real opportunities to fully and directly participate in and contribute to the management and development of their local communities, and by extension, of the nation (p. 2)  This position is reiterated in the National Development Plan, Vision 2030 (Planning Institute of Jamaica, 2009): “The Plan presents a framework for the achievement of social transformation through a new paradigm of local governance which will give communities greater scope for their self-management and enable them to actively participate in policy decisions at the national level” (p. xxviii).  It is evident from these documents that, across Administrations, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) acknowledges the importance of an efficient system of decentralised governance.”

It is noted in the aforementioned Ministry Paper, tabled in Parliament in 1993 with a view to effecting reform of a colonial local government system with roots in nineteenth century legislation (the Counties and Parishes Act, 1867 and the Parochial Boards Act, 1887), that “the major contributors to the deficiencies and poor performance of Local Government have been inadequate financing and lack of autonomy” (p. 1).  In light of these challenges, as well as the general deficiencies and poor performance cited here, the Ministry Paper identifies the following as objectives of the reform process:

“1. Restoration of functions and responsibilities which were removed from Local Government, and rehabilitation of the Councils

  1. Establishment of new arrangements for the financing of Local Government which will allocate to them adequate and independent sources of revenue, and will give Local Authorities effective control over these sources of revenue
  2. To upgrade the institutional capability of Local Authorities to ensure that they are able to perform their functions in an efficient and cost-effective manner …
  3. To effect a comprehensive revision of all out-dated legislation which presently constitute a major constraint to the effective performance of the Councils
  4. To upgrade the quality and cost-efficiency of all Local Government services and regulatory functions
  5. To shift the focus of Local Authorities to one of providing leadership and a coordinating framework to the collective efforts of the people of their respective Parishes, towards local development
  6. To examine the present distribution of service responsibilities between Central and Local Government, community organizations, NGOs and the private sector, and to identify better or more cost-effective arrangements for the delivery of these services.” (p. 3)

The National Advisory Council on Local Government (2009) reports that within five years of the introduction of Ministry Paper No. 8 of 1993, significant progress was made in the areas highlighted below:

  • Implementation of policies to reverse Local Authorities excessive financial dependence on Central Government, including establishment of the Parochial Revenue Fund (PRF); designating selected major tax types (Property Tax & 66 2/3% of Motor Vehicle Licence Fees) as dedicated sources of funding for Local Authorities; and adoption of a raft of measures/initiatives intended to assist and facilitate Local Authorities to significantly boost their own source revenues and use of their assets.
  • Amendments of more than 12 Laws and numerous Regulations, to make Local Authorities more effective in discharging their mandated responsibilities and give them greater autonomy to set/adjust licence fees and user charges, and amend By-laws and Regulations.
  • Significantly enhancing the institutional capacity of the Local Authorities in several dimensions, such as creating a new organizational structure with many new senior managerial/technical positions, and introduction of modern technology and business processes in Local Authorities.
  • Creating new mechanisms/processes (e.g. the National Advisory Council, Parish Advisory Committees, etc.) to facilitate greater civil society participation in local governance and local sustainable development issues, and to enhance accountability, openness and transparency by Local Authorities in the conduct of local affairs.
  • The conceptualization and formulation, and in some instances the actual approval and/or implementation, of several externally funded projects that supported various aspects of the Local Governance Reform Programme, such as the Parish Infrastructure Development Project, the UNPD sponsored Preparatory Assistance Project and the CIDA sponsored Supporting Local Government Reform Project” (p. 20)

A major element of the local government reform process is the entrenchment of local government in the Constitution (http://www.localgovjamaica.gov.jm/lgra.aspx?id=301).  The Bill shortly entitled, “The Constitution (Amendment) (Local Government) Act, 2014”, which has been laid on the Table of the House of Representatives, seeks to “amend the Constitution of Jamaica to make provision for the inclusion of a democratic system of local government for Jamaica” (preamble).  With its passage, the nation will have attained another milestone along the path to establishing an enduring decentralised governance structure that will facilitate citizens’ participation in governance and decision-making.” - Tracy Cohen – Kingston, Jamaica

Sources

Ministry Paper No. 8 of 1993, “Reform of Local Government”. Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, 1993). Retrieved from http://www.localgovjamaica.gov.jm/ministrypapers.aspx

“Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan” (Planning Institute of Jamaica, 2009).  Retrieved from www.jis.gov.jm

Final Report of the National Advisory Council on Local Government (Department of Local Government – Office of the Prime Minister, 2009). Retrieved from www.localgovjamaica.gov.jm

The Bill shortly entitled, “The Constitution (Amendment) (Local Government) Act, 2014”. Retrieved from www.japarliament.gov.jm


Learner’s Submission: Bench-marking Tool – E-Government Development Index (EGDI)

14/10/2014

“The UN E-Government Survey is the flagship publication of the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs (UNDESA), which is a published biennially starting from 2003 with an initial pilot publication in 2001. The latest publication for 2014 is themed: “E-Government of the Future We Want”.

The Survey assesses the progress of e-government development in all 193 Member States of the United Nations, as such, it is the only survey that comprehensively assesses such a wide scope of countries.

The Survey serves as a tool for decision-makers to identify their areas of strength and challenges in e-government and to guide e-government policies and strategies. The UN E-Government Survey provides a systematic assessment of the use of ICT to transform and reform the public sector by enhancing efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, accountability, access to public services and citizen participation.

UNDESA believes Member States’ e-government initiatives should be focused primarily on making progress in three core areas of e-government development, namely: provision of online services (Online Service Index OSI), telecommunication connectivity, Telecommunication Infrastructure Index, TII) and human capacity, Human Capital Index, HCI). Thus, through a composite index of the aforementioned e-government dimensions, an E-Government Development Index (EGDI) is generated that ranks all Member States.

The EGDI ranking is NOT designed to capture e-government development in an absolute sense, meaning, the ranking is not an affirmation that, for example; the top ranked country in the latest 2014 Survey, the Republic of South Korea[1], has attained the highest, ideal or “perfect” state of e-government development despite their consistent Number One status since the 6th Edition of the Survey (i.e. 2010, 2012, 2014), rather it is a comparison of Member States’ performance rating relative to one another for the period under review.

Indeed, a possible scenario is that, between now and the next ranking publication, Member States might continue to invest resources into various aspects of e-government development yet their ranking might remain the same, drop or move up, and this might be strictly dependent on the activity outputs and outcomes of programs being pursued by other nations.

Specifically, the EGDI is a weighted average of the three normalized scores of OSI, TII, and HCI.

  • Online Service Index (OSI): measures the online presence of government and the services provided to citizens online.
  • Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII): measures through several indicators the infrastructure through which citizens can have access to the government online services.
  • Human Capital Index (HCI): measures the educational base of citizens that will allow them to access the government services online.

Thus, it uses a simplified function statement which has remained essentially the same despite changes in some indicators. This is due to changes in the underlying technology that drives e-government initiatives and innovations in the field.

EGDI = (1/3 OSI + 1/3 TII +1/3 HCI)

Data for the assessment is sourced from UNDESA-DPADM, ITU and UNESCO-UNDP for OSI, TII and HCI respectively. Beyond this core areas of e-government, the report also analyses the progress of e-participation, whole of government approach to e-government and open data programs among Member States of the United Nations.

The UN E-Government Survey report (link to report: http://unpan3.un.org/egovkb/en-us/Reports/UN-E-Government-Survey-2014 ) is especially relevant for Governments, Intergovernmental institutions, International and regional organizations, Academia, research centres and schools of public administration, Private sector, Civil Society organizations and concerned citizens.

As an e-government analyst, I find the UN-EGDI to be a very useful benchmarking tool in the areas of measuring e-government development, capacity development measures, policy recommendations to decision makers and understanding the best practices around the world.” – Franklin Ziggah – Accra, Ghana


Learner’s Submission” Public Service Human Resource Management for India’s Sustainable Development”

09/10/2014

” Development performance of countries is heavily underpinned by the quality of public institutions. When public institutions perform well, it is primarily owing to the motivation, skills and integrity of the human capital and the quality of leadership. – From the World Public sector Report “Unlocking the Human Potential for Public sector Performance”, (p.v) UN/DESA, 2005.

India is the largest democratic country in the world. It is the seventh largest by area and second most populous country with roughly one-sixth of world’s population – of about 1.26 billion. India has many challenges such as poverty, illiteracy, corruption, rising crime, nasty politics etc.

Human resources are the individuals that make up the public service workforce. Often they are referred to as “human capital” because they are the greatest asset to the public service.  Human capital is not only people per se, but the collective sum of their attributes, life experience, knowledge, creativity, energy, and motivation they choose to invest in their work. It is imperative to develop and cultivate human capital in the public service to optimize its performance. Public service performance relies on the capacity of the individual servant.

Strategic Human Resource Management is critical to the public sector’s success. The public sector will only perform well if its people work at their best. And if the public sector performs well, it is better able to implement the various development programmes of the country, thus contributing to regional and global development.

At present there is large scope for the people in public service for malpractices and corruption. Reports of large scale corruption of crores of rupees involving government servants, businesses, political leaders, ministers, judges etc. are often published in local and national media. India ranks 94th among 177 countries in corruption perception index, with a Score of 36/100, as per report of Transparency International (2013).

Current Challenges in Public Service HRM in India

In India, the implementation of sustainable development programmes is mostly regulated by public institutions. A public service with low capacity is not able to lift the country from poverty in the path of well-being for all. Indian public servants therefore carry the responsibility to develop strategies and policies that facilitate progress in the country’s social and economic development. For this reason, motivated and capable public servants are India’s most critical asset in sustaining progress and achieving development goals.

Human Resource Management: Unlocking human capital

With public servants as the important asset to India’s public service, their performance is instrumental for India’s sustainable development. Therefore, the management of India’s public servants must be grounded in principles such as:

  1. An able public service work force is the prerequisite for meeting India’s developmental aspirations of the people.
  2. Knowledge, know-how, skills and attitudes of public servants are at the center of public institutions’ performance.
  3. HR managers are key players in ensuring that the public service has the human resources it needs to succeed.

The capacity of India’s public service to achieve development goals has yet to be fully realized. An essential stepping stone in this regard is recognizing and embracing public service HRM as a critical management function. If used as a key management tool, HRM allows the public service to strategically align its workforce with the country’s development objectives. As such, HRM can become a value creator and make a bottom-line difference for the public sector.

Sustainable development: Strategic framework for HRM

To achieve development, the public service should be staffed by public servants with the capacity to design strategies for policy analysis, formulation, monitoring and evaluation. To attract, nurture and retain such civil servants, sound human resource strategies are needed. These HR strategies must be grounded in the development objectives at the national, regional and global level. Under the able leadership of Sh. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India expects to excel in all spheres – services, manufacturing, infrastructure etc. in the next few years.” – Srihari Subudhi – New Delhi, India 


Learner’s Submission: What is the UN E-Government Survey

29/09/2014

“E-government can be the change agent to meet these challenges through online services, and by making governments more effective, efficient, transparent, accountable and inclusive.

  • The UN E-Government Survey is the only report in the world that assesses the e-government development status of the 193 UN Member States.
  • The Survey serves as a tool for decision-makers to identify their areas of strength and challenges in e-government and to guide e-government policies and strategies.
  • The UN E-Government Survey provides a systematic assessment of the use of ICT to transform and reform the public sector by enhancing efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, accountability, access to public services and citizen participation.
  • The UN e-government survey began in earnest in 2003 .a pilot was made in 2001

The core objective of this survey is benchmarking e-government development among UN Member States in order to “inform and improve the understanding of policy makers’ choices to shape their e-government programs” (UN 2004). This is done by measuring “the willingness and capacity of countries to use online and mobile technology in the execution of government functions” (UN 2010). Most recently, “to recognize the key role that e-government – and e-governance – can play in support of the establishment of effective institutional linkages necessary for sustainable development (UN 2012).

COMPONENTS OF SURVEY:

The UN E-Government Survey measures e-government development in all 193 UN Member States through the E-Government Development Index (EGDI) which contains three components (online service index, telecommunication infrastructure index, human capital index) which are weighted in equal manner.

GOAL OF THE SURVEY:

To provide incentives for capacity-building and to provide policy guidance and serve as in impartial reference on how to utilize ICTs to transform governments and to enable sustainable development.

The e-government development ranking of the 193 Member States provided in the Survey receives much attention, as is the case with any ranking, which leads to both positive and unintended consequences.

ADVANTAGES OF THE SURVEY:

  • Informed e-government policy decisions.
  • Barometer of e-government trends.
  • Progress in e-government developments.
  • Helps to draw attention from the media on the issues of e-government development.

USERS OF THE SURVEY:

  • Governments
  • Intergovernmental institutions
  • International and regional organizations
  • Academia, research centers and schools of public administration
  • Private sector
  • Civil society organizations
  • Citizens

The Survey is produced by the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

The Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) publishes the UN E-Government Survey every two years.” - Prabhu Djeapragassam – Puducherry, India


Learner’s Submission: Whole-of-Government Approach in the Context of e-Government.

24/09/2014

“To appreciate whole –of–Government and understand its ability the this approach can be defined as government organization start sharing objectives with other organizations and collaboratively perform decisions instead of taking unanimous  decisions.

Integration of services which results in reduction of time and resource utilization and thereby increasing the citizens trust in the government. Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government responses which reduces redundancy in process flow.

E-Government is the use of Information Communication Technology to enhance the performance of government services through E-Governance thereby reducing corruption and difficulties in providing the services by removing by any existing hurdles if any. Increasing the transparency in governance and gain trust of citizens on the government.

Listed below few advantages of adopting e-government:

  • Promote effective disaster management by going Green (use of paper is reduced in e-governance since digital data’s are being used). Hence if e-papers (pdf and word documents) is used requirement of paper gets reduced.
  • Increase transparency through e-tender, e-auction, e-procurement, e-registry which leads to corruption free process flow.
  • Provides better access and quality of services.
  • People of vulnerable situations will start to use government services easily leading to social inclusion.

Listed below Difficulties faced without e-governance in governments:

  • Long queues in government offices to obtain the services (eg to receive caste, income certificates verification and collection of these documents take huge time.)
  • Must travel long distances to avail services.

Steps to promote whole of government through e-government:

  • To develop citizen friendly portals and websites(if required multilingual also can be taken into account)
  • Provide Links to  various ministries and institutions
  • Promote use of e-services.
  • Provide citizen charter in government departmental websites.
  • Promotion of E-participation of the citizens is the basis of socially inclusive governance.

E-participation is electronic participation of citizens and the business community in e-government. The aim of e-participation initiatives should be to improve the citizen’s access to information and public services; and promote participation in public decision-making which impacts the well being of society, in general, and the individual, in particular.

The three main components of the E-participation is as follows

  • E-decision-by increasing the input of citizen in decision making through e-services.
  • E-consultation –for enhancing deliberative and participatory process.

E-information-increasing information seeking of citizens made online by making information available online through websites, portals and forums.” - Prabhu Djeapragassam – Puducherry, India


Learner’s Submission: Anti-Corruption Case Study – Georgia

23/09/2014

“Preamble

The situation in Georgia before 2004 worrisome, corruption permeated nearly every aspect of life in the country. The public sector gave room for corruption that negatively impacted on the entire economy. The Police, Tax authorities, Customs, aviation and many other sectors of the economy were corrupt. The new government started in January, 2004 with an empty treasury and failed state. This situation forces the new government to start a full-flagged anticorruption crusade to save the country from total collapse.

In the quest to rescue the country and to establish credibility the new government  focused on series of reforms in all the sectors of the economy with specific and early rescue of the patrol police to cub crimes and tax reform to salvage the country empty treasury. This led to the arrest and subsequent prosecution of criminals and corrupt officials of the previous government. The reforms sought to gain citizens trust through information and active participation.

The anticorruption reforms in Georgia were successful in involving the citizens to gain their trust in the following areas:

  • REACTIVE, PROACTIVE AND PREVENTATIVE ANTICORRUPTION REFORMS: The early approaches used in each of the reforms are reactive in nature, they include disengagement of 16,000 traffic police and replacing them with 2,300 new once in few month, arrest and subsequent prosecution of criminals and corrupt officials of the previous government, amnesty in tax collection, plea bargain arrangement to recoup looted public fund, prosecution of corrupt tax officials among others. On the other hand, the proactive approaches include, changing citizen’s mindset about criminals through communication of information on television portraying criminals are no more respected in the society and the need for credibility in government businesses. Others include proactive anticorruption awareness campaign on new policies. Recruitment of new staff and subsequent training in Customs, undercover Agents and tax authorities as well as declaration of income and assets of public officials on a dedicated website for public information are among the preventative approaches adopted in the reforms.
  • INFORMATION, CONSULTATION AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION: Citizens in Georgia were involved in anticorruption reforms through information, consultation and active participation. They were informed about the zero tolerance for corruption at the early stage of the reforms, about the reactive measures taken against criminals and corrupt officials, changes in rules and regulations, policy and institutional changes through television news and official websites. On the other hand, citizens were involved through consultation such as right to report corrupt government officials, receiving petitions, investigation and prosecution of offenders. In addition, the Georgians were given rights to use mechanisms that allow them to hold those in power accountable through active participation to influence their elections/selection for government positions and participated actively in decision making process.
  • LEGAL REGULATION, POLICY, INSTITUTIONAL AND OPERATIONAL TOOLS: The anticorruption reforms in Georgia used legal framework that gave citizens rights to access information e.g assets declaration on a dedicated official website by public officials. They were also involved in consultation through right to petition public officials. In addition, they were allowed to participate in government by influencing the selection processes of government officials during the reforms. Also, policies that aid communication of information about the reforms on television news and telegraphs are put in place in order to guide consultation and participation of CSOs and NGOs in decision making.

Institutions responsible in each sector were mandated to provide access to information about new reforms and changes communicated to the citizens. New institutional arrangements to address issues bordering on appeals process and disputes resolution that includes members from civil society organisations are steps toward strengthening the accountability framework and give room for citizens consultation and active participation. This gave the citizens formal presence in decision making forums.

However, operating tools such as toll-free numbers and adverts are provided to allow citizens access to information on the reforms activities. Opinion polls, workshops, draft policies and public hearings were conducted at different levels of implementation in order to provide avenues for citizens consultations and active participation by being presence at such forums and participate in decision making.

CONTEXTUAL FACTORS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT BY REFORMERS IN ORDER TO GAIN THE TRUST OF CITIZENS: In order to gain the trust of citizens the reformers have to put certain factors into consideration. These include; strong political will, establishment of early credibility, launching frontal assault on the criminals and corrupt officials, limiting direct contact with customers in the administration of taxes and customs, adopting  unconventional methods in financing early reforms and increased incentives for police and tax officials. Other factors as observed from the case study include, close monitoring of the reforms implementation, tailoring international experience learned from other countries of the world to local conditions and  harnessing technology in the implementation of reforms e.g use of computers to check if a driver has a license. Effective use communications strategies in order to gain the trust of the citizens for the success of the reforms by the government and involving  citizens in decision making are some of the major promising factors. ” - Murtala Bello Kankanu – Kaduna, Nigeria


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