Learner’s Submission: Land Record Management System in Pakistan

25/02/2015

“Public Service relate to all those utilities and services which government tries to provide to the inhabitants of an area within its jurisdiction to facilitate and improve their quality of life. It includes all the mandatory services like provision of Electricity, water, education, fuel, town management, environment protection and management, waste management, libraries and a lot other. Online Public Service an effective mean to enhance the efficiency of government department in timely delivery of services using modern modes of information technology i.e. internet.

Since, it a basic demand which people make and expect that their elected Parliament will strive to provide them best public services but in a developing country like Pakistan, public service delivery is often criticized on account of inefficiency of line departments and various bottlenecks which people face to take proper advantage of public services. It creates a lot frustration in general public who find it hard to get benefit from any public service.

With the passage of time and development in IT sector, new and improved modes of public service are being introduced in Pakistan. In this article various developments in the field of Online Public service delivery will be analyzed.

Pakistan is predominantly an agricultural country but the Land Record Management System is quite out dated and is unable to cope with changing circumstances. The basic and most important actor (Govt. Official) in Land Record Management is called Patwari. And whole system is commonly called “Patwari System”. This Land Record Management is heavily criticized on account of its inefficiency and main flaws in this system are given as:

  • Manual Map Making of Lands
  • Manual Record Keeping of Lands
  • Approximate Measurements of lengths and areas of land
  • Payment of heavy bribe to get access to record of Land Holding

Keeping in view the efficiency of this land management system, Government of Punjab has launched “Land Record Management Information System”. The aim of this system is to get rid of centuries old and outdated land management system and to incorporate IT to make system corruption free. According to this system manual paper-based land records are being transformed into computerized data base. Users can see the location and details of their Land Holding online and get further details by paying a minimal fee at the service centers. It is indeed a huge relief for common man who used to pay huge Bribe to get record of his Land Holding. The system is being implemented on priority basis and manual data records of lands are being converted into digital form and online access is being provided to general public. Although this system is currently working on partial basis and land records of few districts have been provided online and will take some time in full functioning. But outcome of this system is getting much praise from general public and good example has been set by government which needs to be adopted in other provinces of Pakistan also.” - Maqsood Amin – AJK, Pakistan


Learner’s Submission: Open Government Data in Liberia

24/02/2015

“Up to the writing of this essay there are no specific open government data in my country; Liberia. But the government have been trying very hard to show some levels of support in the areas of open government data. since its inception in 2005, the government of Liberia under the leadership Africa’s first female President has made some impressive reforms to support open government and has signed various conventions and policies and frameworks to facilitate such.
Before this government, Liberia among the least compliance countries in the world in the issues of transparency, accountability and human rights violation. In the very early days of the government, Liberia was able to sign onto the United Nations convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2005 thereby declaring corruption number one enemy in the nation. The Liberian government was the first African country government to sign and comply with the Extractive Industry transparency Initiative (EITTI) with the aim of governing the country’s natural resources. There are several other frameworks the government have put in place to safeguard the nation’s asset against corruption individuals and to show case on transparency and accountability such as the Liberia Ant-corruption Commission (LACC), the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), and the Good Governance Commission. To open the government to the people, the Liberian government was the first in West Africa to pass a Freedom of Information Act.
With all the above just mentioned the government is still behind in so many other processes that will ensure open government data for citizens engagement. Accordingly, the legal frameworks to implement these sound policies put together have been very difficult. Citizens are yet to see the implementation of these legal frameworks and policies. There are numerous cases of certain individuals bypassing the Public Procurement and Concession Commission and carrying on fraudulent bidding processes. But again another argument that comes into play is the government lacks the incentive structures, capacity, infrastructure and resources to combat these irregularities. With all these problems, it is encouraging to see the Johnson-Sirleaf government through some partnerships to commit to the development of a citizen website and an open data portal to allow more openness to information about the government dealings. Presently, it is difficult to obtain information about government activities.
Non governmental Organizations such as Transparency International, Accountability Lab, iLab Liberia and other local and international partners are committed to supporting the government through initiatives the promote free access to government data. For example, Accountability Lab and iLab Liberia are supporting these commitments through a project called “Knowmore LIB” meaning a knowledgeable person in Liberia. “Knowmore LIB” is a collaborative effort across civil society and government in Liberia to ensure that information can be used by Liberians to make their government more open, accountable and responsive to citizens. Their intends are to help the government in its open data efforts to make information accessible to all citizens.
In concluding, I will like to say the Liberia government on the open data to citizens is still on the stage of designing and trying to usher itself into the implementation, monitoring and will later get into the evaluation stage. ” - Alhaji S. Kamara – Minnesota, United States


Learner’s Submission: Citizen Engagement and Preventing Corruption (Case study: Georgia)

23/02/2015

“Trust is an implicit contract between entities which within the private sector or public and has economic value in a society. Corruption and fraud in any society inflicts the most damage to trust (Vijay 2010). Corruption and bribery feed upon each other and lead to dysfunction of markets, private and public institutions, and ultimately loss of confidence and trust in democracy. Loss of fairness in the allocation of resources and/or income fosters distrust. The loss of trust in people, institutions and governments imposes high cost on a society. Building trust has to start with the leaders in business and government who recognize the fault lines. Loss of trust will impose a high price to free markets and democratic institutions.

Georgia was able to eliminate corruption in its sectors as a result of adoption of control mechanisms in patrol police, task administration customs, civic and public registers, accountability framework between the government, public service providers for and service users. Faced with corruption incidents such as bribes to obtain most of public services, Georgia put in place strict policy in order to curb the menace. Such measures were undertaken under the ‘zero tolerance’ policy of the government which have drastically reduced the prevalence of corruption.  The government was also open to public engagement through harnessing technology, using communication strategically and as a result of continued participation and implementation of policy proposals from different stakeholders improved public trust to the authorities in eliminating corruption and as a result attainment of favorable outcome. The government involved the public through the use of essential communication strategies such as informing, consultation as well as active participation, discussion papers, consultation policy, citizens’ right to access to information. The approach was a success since it led to establishment and implementation of a list of projects that resulted into positive outcomes such as strong political goodwill, establishing credibility early, launching frontal assault, attracting new staff, limiting state roles, proper coordination of government engagements, and harnessing technology which forms part of elements of success that are recommended in the United Nations conventions against corruption.

Anti-corruption authorities and citizens involvement

While handling the issue of corruption occurrences, ACA context involves preserving the operational integrity of an active investigation of corrupt activity which is a consideration that must be weighed against the desirability of openness to citizens’ scrutiny if the type of corruption involves organized crime or powerful groups. In such an occurrence, the strategy in handling the case must ask whether the participation of citizens will put them in danger and if possible allow for appropriate protection through confidentiality or security is usually one of the elements of the policy framework for access to information. By reviewing the magnitude of the case of corruption, ACA seeks to apply different level of engagement in order to contain the corruption incident. The level of engagement is needed to inform, consult or actively engage citizens. ACA also scrutinizes the holistic involvement of various stakeholders on the matter and respective interests in question and the extent to which such a matter and interest affects each stakeholder in short term and the long term as well as the success of the project. Such stakeholders include oversight agencies, parliament, and citizen watchdogs among others. After carrying out an in-depth analysis of the relationship of stakeholders’ interest, the ACA employ appropriate tools to facilitate the process of controlling the existence of corruption. These tools are designed in the forms of information, consultation, as well as active participation.

On the other hand, the civil society role is to ensure that the citizen needs are met by the existing government. Such needs include; easy and equitable access to service, opportunity to easily monitor government as well as adequate information to recognize corruption. This also can be made effective by ensuring that there is systematic capacity. Civil society ensures that citizens are involved by ensuring that there is democratization of societies, decentralization of power, rule of law, freedom of expression and capacity building, and institutional adjournment. They ensure public transparency through the use of whistle blowers protection, monitoring both public and private sectors to protect individuals who provide information on incidents that occurs in such sectors, assisting citizens in categorizing the corruption incidents, ensuring a holistic protection program that encompasses on the protection of citizens. In an event that they come across incidences of corruption, they hold demonstrations, or present the case to the existing authorities regardless of the individuals involved. Collaboration of public officers and the civil society is paramount in fighting corruption. This can be made possible by ensuring that public administration officers develop both soft and hard skills. Improvement of social welfare is attainable through workshops, seminars and training programs, creation of activities that facilitate the strengthening of institutional capacity, ensure the development of comprehensive databases and information support, exchange of experiences and best practices and also creation of follow up activities.” - Joseph Macharia Kimani – Nairobi, Kenya

Reference: www.worldbank.com


Learner’s Submission: UN E-Government Survey – Where Does India Stand?

22/02/2015

“As per the 2014 report of UN E-Government Survey, India is one of the seven lower middle income countries that is among the top 50 of the list. It comes in the category of ‘middle e-government development index’. This has been surely made possible by the launch of “MyGov: A Platform for Citizen Engagement towards Good Governance (i.e. Surajya)” on July 26, 2014 by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi who believes that “Success of democracy is impossible without participation of the people”. The portal has increased the participation of citizens in influencing the government decision process. With the embedded feedback mechanism, citizens are enabled to criticise the specific policies. The usage of Mobile App for MyGov with the fall in prices of smart phones in India is expected to expand as smart phones users has increased to 117 million according to the latest ‘Internet trends 2014’ report by Mary Meeker, partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). This is expected to rise by 45% this year.

The other initiatives by Government of India includes the online payment systems called as Electronic Fund Management System (eFMS) which manages the e-payment of wages and subsidies to the targeted people.  The E-Filling of Taxes, E-Reservation System for Railway and E-Postal Services by Department of Posts, etc. has relatively increased the Online Service Index which accounts for 1/3 of EGDI (E-Government Development Index).

The enhancement of Telecommunications Infrastructure Index accounting for 1/3 of EGDI has been a consequence of Digital India Programme launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on August 7, 2014. The programme aims to empower the society with a digital and dynamic knowledge base through innovated and interoperable Information Technology Infrastructure.  This is an Umbrella Program and visions to incorporate all the organs of Government Services Delivery.

The last component of EGDI also accounting for 1/3 of EGDI is Human Capital Index. It’s the most complex development procedure. In India it has been enhanced by the various flagship programme initiatives. Some of them are listed below:

  1. MCA 21 Project by Ministry of Company Affairs has focused on providing awareness campaign to the stakeholders in different schedules across the country. Its main aim is to provide awareness for e-filling for all the services provided through the Registrar of Companies through service-centric approach.
  2. National Skill development Agency has taken responsibilities to train the existing service providers with the infrastructure and usage of the E-Government system.
  3. Department of Human Resource and Development have taken initiatives to provide the necessary educational qualification at preliminary level of education to have maximum participation of citizens.

Network for Information and Computer Technology (NICT) has designed and launched various advertisement, publicity and awareness campaign in different part of countries through multi-tiered centres.”


Learner’s Submission: The Millennium Development Goals – What Nigeria Failed to Do

21/02/2015

“The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the most broadly supported, comprehensive and specific development goals that the world has ever agreed upon. These eight-bound goals target poverty, hunger, maternal and child mortality, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality, environmental degradation and the Global Partnership for Development. Nigeria was an enthusiastic signatory to these goals in September of 2000 when they were agreed upon; but have since achieved no results.

The deadline for achieving these goals was slated for 2015. Writing this article today, January 22, 2015, it is safe to conclude that Nigeria failed to accomplish the goals since poverty, hunger, low standard of education,  etc are still prevalent in the country. It is safe to reach this conclusion because it is very unrealistic to think that the Nigerian government can achieve these goals between now (January) and December. It cannot be denied that the Nigerian Federal Government made attempts to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but the money allocated to the actualisation of the project ended up in the pockets of few individuals as a result of corruption, the major virus of the Nigerian state. The eventual victim had to be innocent and poor citizens who had to be deprived of the change that the implementation of these goals would have attracted. But this was possible because the government failed to monitor the entire process.

It has to be said that the Nigerian government is always guilty of being at the wrong side of decision-making. This is simply because the government is yet to imbibe the culture of engaging its citizens in policy-making.

Citizen engagement is important because it guarantees the surest strategy of accomplishing any target. Citizens who have networked and speak with one voice have the potential to serve as powerful agents who have an impact on policy-making and enforcement of new and existing policies.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is a social responsibility in which citizens would have been engaged in a number of ways, one of which would have been the involvement of members of the various Civil Society Organisations. A vibrant and informed Civil Society has a vital role to play in building enduring democracies, underpinned by good governance practices. It is not without doubt that the role of Civil Society goes beyond advocacy. Civil Society have a crucial role to play in promoting democracy and popular participation at country level, service delivery especially in the social sector where government resources and capacities are stretched and supporting to articulate and fashion appropriate strategies for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

So, with the failure of the Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria, it is hoped that the Nigerian government will think of new ways of implementing subsequent programmes, and one of which should be the engagement of its citizens in various capacities. It might also be necessary to introduce a monitoring system to guarantee transparency and accountability which will ensure the delivery and successful implementation of the programme.” - Elias Ozikpu – Lagos, Nigeria


Learner’s Submission: The Importance of Strategic Human Resource Management to the Performance of the Public Sector and Sustainable Development: Case Study from Ethiopia

20/02/2015

“Human resource is the primary framework for sustainable development. This is because of the fact that the public service performance heavily relies on the capacity of the individual servants. Every aspect of development is undertaken while this valuable resource is managed in its appropriate way. In its simplest sense, human resource management is the integration of human resource policies and practices with organizational strategies, a holistic; coordinated approach to policies and practices for managing people at work; a primary focus on the individual employee as opposed to the collective relations within the organizations; strong organizational value and culture emphasizing a sustainable match between the values of employees and the organization, whereby key elements of HR add value to the organization and returns on investment is simultaneously achieved (Storey, J. 1992).As an indispensable asset that could shoulder the biggest possible responsibility in terms of transforming the performance of the public service sector in particular and the eventual transformation of the nation in general, the strategic management of human resource, is increasingly becoming compulsory, particularly for those of African countries.

As one of the African countries, Ethiopia, with untapped potential of vast young human resource, has to give due emphasis to the sector. As many of the African countries,in Ethiopia too, the implementation of sustainable development programmes is mostly regulated by public institutions. This implies that, if the public service is found to be incapable of formulating and implementing strategies, it is more likely that the various efforts to eradicate absolute poverty and protecting the well-being of citizens will be unrealistic. As it is obvious, Ethiopia is one of the countries registered as successful in terms of accomplishing most of the millennium development goals. This success could be attributed to having motivated and capable public servants that are critical assets in sustaining progress and achieving the aforementioned development goals. However, this does not mean that Ethiopian public sector human resource is without limitations. Some of these hindrances for having strategic human resources management are listed below.

Significant Challenges for Strategic Human Resource Management in Ethiopia

  1. Absence of Professionalism

As of the definition of the Oxford Dictionary of English (2003), professionalism could be inclusive of both the competence and skills expected of a professional and the practice of an activity, by professionals rather than amateur players. In this regard, many argued that, public sector efficiency and its effectiveness in achieving desirable outcomes can only be realized if the nation has a motivated and satisfied public sector employee. In fact, management is partially an art. However, the science part should not be underestimated so as to deliver the right service to the right stakeholder, at a right time. Therefore, an individual with a proximity to a certain discipline may contribute better than of the opposite.

  1. Persistent and Endemic Corruption

Whatever the severity and types of Corruption, it is prevalent in almost all countries in the world. What exacerbates it is low payment, which in every measure could not afford the lively hood of public servants. The situation is always at the apex of talks and a usual complains behind Ethiopian public servants. It is better to call it, “un heard voices”. The only option is to go to the evil. It must be clear that no one is unaware of corruption and how much is it unethical; and preventive approach to corruption protection through educating the people is unviable way.

  1. Educational status of the employee

Now days, the public service requires deployment of skilled, flexible and effective human resources, who grasp the needs of the immediate customer i.e. the citizens and can translate them into sound policies and strategies. However, getting this kind of human resource in Ethiopian public service is increasingly challenging. This is partly because of the gap that, a significant number of employees in the public service assume a position with little or no experience. Once employed, they upgrade their educational status, with a little attention, in very weak distance education centers, without grasping what is basically required from a certain education level. This situation is responsible for lack of good governance in the various public institutions in the country.” – Mohammed Yimer – Arba Minch, Ethiopia


Learner’s Submission: Human Resource Capacity Development with the Country’s Development Vision in Kenya

19/02/2015

“The key thing that needs to be done to align Human Resource Capacity Development with the Country’s Development Vision in Kenya is the Commitment by the top leadership. This is because when the top leadership publicly commit to support the programme then there will be little or no resistance by the citizens or employees mandated to enforce the alignment process. These top leaders will also ensure that resources are mobilized and effectively used towards the alignment process and those officers who are perceived to be corrupt are forced to step down pending investigations or prosecuted in accordance with the law. This will not only lead to accountability but also transaperancy in management of public resources. This will also lead to value for money and efficiency in delivery of public services.

When top leadership are committed to the alignment process there is a lot political goodwill since most of their supporters would wish to associate with the alignment process. This ultimately results into ownership of the vision and the capacity development process hence economic growth for the country. The concept of commitment and ownership is pivotal for any development agenda to succeed because of the participatory nature that it inculcates in people. This allows members of the community to pull resources together through partnership, collaboration, networking and linkage process that ensure holistic approach towards the alignment of the human capacity development programme into the country’s development agenda.

Commitment by the top management will also ensure that there is inclusivity, gender equity and equality, promotion of diversity and respect for human rights. This is because the top leadership would wish to win the support and confidence of all citizens hence he or she will marshal support from all corners of the country regardless of their religious, political, ethnic or social affiliations. This in turn will encourage patriotism among the citizens and will ensure that the alignment process take cognizance of the diversity of Kenyan people and the need to unit towards achievement of vision 2030.

Commitment by the top leadership will also ensure that proper legislations are formulated and enforced. However, these legislations should be done with regards to the Constitution of Kenya 2010, international labor conventions, Human Resource Capacity Policy and other legislations that promote employee development. Institutions that are mandated to implement these laws will also be empowered to ensure that the process is achieved and best performing organizations rewarded adequately. The incentives programme should be based on Result Based Management Systems such as performance contracting currently being implemented in Kenya. These legislations will also have strategic planning dimensions so that the country is able to project manpower requirements and adequately provide resources needed to build their capacity to deliver quality service to the citizens.

Commitment by top leadership will enhance the alignment process in the sense that it will promote holistic approach rather than the traditional closed approach towards capacity building. This will ensure that Rapid Results Initiatives are incorporated in the process and members of the community and other stakeholders are involved in the alignment. This is true because in most developing countries’ like Kenya most leaders are charismatic and have a lot of followers around them who share similar ideologies. Therefore when the president of the republic publicly declares support towards the alignment process all his followers will take the message to the grassroots and educate the masses on the importance of the alignment. This will spur debate hence an informed society. During such debate a lot of information will be generated that may be used to check on the strengths and the weaknesses of the envisaged idea. These pieces of information when analysed and put into perspectives are crucial for the success of the policy, progrmme or project that will drive the alignment process.” - Philip Were – Homabay County, Kenya


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