Learner’s Submission: Open Government Data and Citizen Engagement in Nigeria: The Journey So Far

28/07/2015

“The system of Open Government Data (OGD) is evolving as a verifiable means of demanding transparency and accountability in governance. The civil society asks questions on their civil rights to be governed effectively and efficiently. This opens government books on budgetary incomes and expenditures, policy formulation and implementation in proportion to the yearnings and aspirations of citizens.

Open Government Data is the irrevocable release and authorize use and reuse of public sector information by all, either through technology or otherwise. In this space, the data is processed from closed to shared and then open. The concept systemically adopts Open Data, Open Society, Open Knowledge and Open Participation. It provides knowledge on how government is being managed, what information is in the public domain and how the society uses the information to hold government accountable and/or promote good governance.

The idea of open government has been embraced and implemented by many countries through policy formulations and transparency laws. The United States President, Barack Obama, introduces “Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government” which laid the foundation of good governance and citizen engagement in his administration. Nigeria is no difference, the country witnesses several calls and policy plans for open government and participation, of recent is the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology in conjunction with World Bank and Department For International Development (DFID) to design a comprehensive deliverable action plan on open government to fight administrative corruption in the country, increase public accountability and integrity as well as innovation in public service bodies, civil society organizations and small business enterprises to better take advantage of increasingly available government data. This initiative encourages searching and retrieving government data freely, providing feedback and information sharing through a consultative and all-inclusive platform opening up high value datasets across ministries, departments and agencies.

The Freedom of Information Act is an added and legislated document upholding open data in Nigeria, which can facilitate open government and end the shackle of good governance affected by impunity and corruption. Although the Open Data Development Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology has taken the center stage, there is no veritable all-inclusive national portal for accessing government data. However, Nigeria has an offshore multilayered OGD portal launched by the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the purpose of improving knowledge and disseminating information about the country. Users can access, analyze and share datasets ranging from economic data, development indices and socio-political data. The portal also enables visualization and analytic info-graphic presentation of data to the end user.

At State level, the government of Edo State has taken the lead in launching an Open Data Portal in 2013 to provide access to relevant, actionable and up-to-date State government data for use and reuse by civil society organizations, policy makers, business owners/investors, international organizations and researchers. The portal presents different datasets such as population data, environmental data, budget data, data on policy/project plans and implementation. These datasets are useful for business investors in making informed decisions to exploit opportunities for investment, and also for indigenes to engage the government on need responsive budget and projects.

The emergence of social media and civil society organizations like BudgIT and Orodata to demand for transparency and accountability in governance using civic technology explores the virgin area of citizen engagement to hold politicians/leaders accountable for delivering on allocated funds for all sectors of development. Therefore, OGD and citizen engagement are indisputable platforms for consultations with government and civil society organizations spurring positive and desirable effects for society at policy and implementation levels. Open Data does not only enhance transparency, but creates jobs, culture shift, healthy democracy, economic development, good healthcare and is a secret weapon to uncover the dirt in governance.

The impact of OGD can be maximized by involving all stakeholders and providing relevant and timely datasets with easy technological interface. However, despite the advantages of OGD, limitations and potential risks in national security, rights conflict and privacy data must be acknowledged.

Lastly, in the quest to rid the country of inglorious trends of corruption, Nigerians and Open Data enthusiasts look forward to a comprehensive National Open Government Data Portal with multifaceted and analytical tools of various datasets from economic, social, political, environmental, electoral, judicial and legislative/parliamentary data.” – Abbas Inuwa – Kaduna, Nigeria


Learner’s Submission: Current capacity status of public services in India and its performance

13/07/2015

” In terms of management of public services is concerned both Africa and India have one thing common i.e. colonial hangover. The British type of administration has left a legacy in India as well. Many acts prevalent today were framed during British rules in India and it is surprising that no significant changes have been made. The present government at centre is taking steps to make changes in many acts and bring it to parliament for approval.

Problem and solution in recruitment – During British time civil servants were chosen based on their education, skill with special emphasis on family back ground. Upspring of aristocratic families with track record of family being loyal to British raj was given more emphasis. Education was costly those days. Hardly children of common people could afford for education. It is needless to mention that those chosen bureaucrats were loyal to British raj.

After Independence the same system of civil service systems continued. Union Public service commission is responsible for recruitment of civil servants and other central service jobs, where as staff selection commissions is responsible for other lower and middle service jobs. Similar patterns were followed at state level.

No one can deny merit of such system. However, demerits outweigh merit aspects. Some technical experts like Engineers, Doctors, Geologist etc they are deprived of getting highest civil service positions. Civil servants are chosen through a competitive examination done by Union public service commission and public service departments are managed by these generalist civil servants. Whereas the technocrats after rendering considerable service never occupy the highest positions in department.

This kind of arrangement cause de-motivation among technocrats. So a right balance should be maintained while promoting generalist and technocrats to high positions in public service department. The recruitment rules should be amended.

Problem and solution in performance management system:
The age old system of maintaining CCR- confidential character report is still prevalent in public sector organizations. The problem is it is one way process. The supervisor will write his opinion about the subordinate. This report capture remarks about the subordinate officer’s performance and conduct. It is never shared with the subordinates. Based on such secret report, promotions to higher posts are considered. Present management system suggest about two way process i.e. mutual goal setting, mid- term review , annual appraisal based on agreed goal and feedback for improvement of performance. Modern performance appraisal system is based on the principle of individual development. It is quite opposite to the control technique i.e. adopted through CCR, secretly gathering information on performance and behaviour.
This CCR system is based on old personnel management technique of control and manages. This gives rise to favouritism, groupism in work places. Only favoured persons are given favourable rating, thereby guaranteed of promotion. Sincere, hard working individuals hardly reap benefits in such systems.
So this system of performance appraisal and reward in public service in India is weak area. Much need to be done in this area.
Solution- The department of personnel should immediately make overhauling of this system. Modern system of performance management should be adopted. Goal setting, appraisal based on goal, linking reward to outcome of appraisal should be adopted. This will do a lot of good to public sectors in India.
There are other areas such as gender sensitiveness among staff of public service, increase awareness about problem of disadvantage people at workplace are some of such problem should be looked into. However, as cited above recruitment and performance management are such areas which can be developed through principle of HRM. These steps will definitely help building capacity of people in public sector.” – Arkajyoti Samanta – Bangalore, India


Learner’s Submission: Online Public Service in India

10/07/2015

“The Banking Industry in India is now providing lot of online public services towards the nation.  Lot of public sector banks and private banks are providing the online public services.  The customers of the banks are operating the online fund transfers and other different type of transactions within a fraction of seconds from their suitable places.  So, we can easily say that the banking network has expanded their online public service in a broad manner for the people of India.

On the other hand, people are getting facilitated in transport industry as well in India.  Nowadays, we can easily book our online tickets through rail networks i.e. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Limited easily.  We are getting the facility of “Tatkal” also for travelling from one place to another.  Apart from this, we are also taking the facility in booking air-tickets electronically i.e., through online public service.  So, we are living in an environment of information technology and getting a huge facility of online public service.

Of late, we are also doing lot of payments through online.  As for e.g., we are paying the electricity bill, telephone bill, gas bills, LIC and other insurance premiums etc. payments through online.  So, in case of payments, we are doing our work very easily without spending our valuable time and energy within a fraction of seconds through online.  So, the online public service has made our life very easier nowadays.

All we know that our independent India is a developing country.  Here we are getting the above facilities through online public service but lot of areas is still there in Government Departments where the online public service has not yet been implemented.  As for example, admission system in lot of educational institutions is still not implemented.  So, as per my opinion, it needs to be implemented at the earliest so that the administrative pressure can be curtailed in comparing with the time frame with accuracy.  Until and unless the departmental people of India is digitally educated, digital implementation is not possible for all departments.  So, we can say the we need the proper infrastructure at first including good human resources.  Otherwise it will not be possible for the Governments also to take proper decision for entire implementation of electronic government.

Though our Governments (State and Central both) are trying to implement their system in electronic form for all departments as much as they can, but still there is some lacuna of digital resources.  Hence, the citizen of India should take responsibility also with Government to make the mission successful for online public service or electronic form for all departments as much as the people can do.” – Tapas Kumar Debnath – West Bengal, India


Learner’s Submission: E-Government in Egypt

09/07/2015

“In Egypt, We see The E-government as the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the activities of public sector organizations. E-government enables citizens to end their procedures of services from their home. Basically, these procedures would relieve the pressure and congestion of the governmental crowed.

For example, voting registration services which include all the population whom in the voting age. Also, the participation in political life to recognize the number and diverse of the civil organizations such as civil society organizations, cooperatives, trade unions, political parties.

The services which provided by the E-government include all of life and the civil, political, economic, social and cultural services. Effective E-government can provide a wide variety of benefits including more efficiency and savings for governments and businesses, increased transparency, and greater participation of citizens in political life.

The Ministry of Education has developed a number of electronic projects include e-government system and the Internet to link schools, students and teacher. Also to complete the development of a video system in order to link 57 meeting rooms in thousands of schools, as well as video conference system to link 27 provinces including Luxor. Schools were provided with computer labs and technology for the teachers and students .So that the program enables them to buy the costs of these materials by installments.

Smart Schools project

Within the framework of the cooperation by the Egyptian Education System which seeking to a modern communications and technology system, Egypt applied technological cooperation between the Development Center of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Smart Communications, and between USAID . The cooperation was to launch a smart school project and competitive participation (PFCE) in 14 Egyptian school (private and national and experimental) over 3 years.

This practical project was managed to integrate sources of information technology within the Egyptian Educational System, as it represents all of the computer network and the advanced media information for creativity.

In addition to the technological literacy, the project trained the managers and teachers on the project and the possibility of using the fundamentals of technology as a source of information to reach the level of digital mastery. Hence, I think that the main advantage for this project is to move in simplifying and facilitating the role of scientific material for students to train.

The project ensures teachers to create rooms with equipment by five teachers for each computer, and it provides them with the necessary technology to develop a lesson plan and also do the evaluation and administrative tasks.

General Tax authority

General Tax authority began a series of actions aimed to development and automation of all organs of the Ministry of Finance. So as to start of work on the procedures for the implementation of e-government, which provides many advantages while ensuring these advantages?

Consumer will save time and effort because of the current routine ,Provide the speed necessary for finishing services with efficiency and good performance As services will be provided by the E-government portal in this field of Taxes , Applications for a tax card , Add New Activity ,Notification of a temporary stop to the activity , Notify the interruption of a particular activity ,Notification practicing entity or modify or add partners ,Inquire about the balance of payments or ratification ,Notice to travel abroad , Notification to amend the legal entity ,Tax settlement, examination and raise the booking , Submission of a declaration for wages and salaries tax , Registration financiers , Basic data correction of Private providers.

The project aims to use the computer networks and information systems to facilitate and shorten the time to provide various services to citizens and investors (Cutting process costs), such as building permission and shops licenses .Also, the money transfer and receiving of services are available. (Managing process performance).Nowadays, it is also working to improve and increase performance and management level of other activities to the various councils local province then working in the link with the Cabinet of the province.” – Ali Adel Ali Ali Ibrahim – Dakhlia , Egypt


Learner’s Submission: What needs to be done by top leadership to align HRCD with the development vision of the country?

08/07/2015

“Capacity development emphasises on  development of overall system, environment and context within which individual , organization and societies operate. Therefore the top leadership at the first place should be clear about what human resource they need in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, networks and technical knowhow. The Prime minister of India in his first address to the nation has given emphasis on skill development of the youth as a response to global demographic changes and with a realisation that demographically India is becoming a young nation in comparison to other western countries. By development of skills of youth and thereby making the young workforce ready for the global requirements is perfect example of aligning HRCD with the vision of the country. However, not mere speeches but concrete action is necessary for this kind of alignment.

  • Political leadership is the primary driver of capacity development. Leadership can enhance governance . Good governance and capacity building can facilitate emergence of better leader. A strong linkage should be developed between political leadership and capacity development approach of the country.
  • The top leadership should create and sustain positive and motivational environment that can encourage the human resource of the country to move in this direction. In India, the workmen are awarded by government on May day. Similar award functions should be organized to recognise work of trainers, managers engaged in mission mode.
  • The top leadership should initiate change, show the change direction and try to facilitate the problem facing HRCD efforts . They should be part of the overall strategic plan and ensure that time bound programs are run so that country’s vision of skilled workforce is ready by certain cut off year.
  • National HRCD policy and strategy should be established. This should be percolated down. At present India has 30 states. Central government and statements are run by the system, central list  and state list of governance. The scheme s run by the central government may not be of importance to different state governments as priorities are different. Now, In India a central structure such as NITI- Ayog has been installed which will work on the principles of cooperative federalism. So the task of the central leadership is to deliberate on the issue of requirement of skill development of the youths so that state leadership realise the importance of it and implement the scheme country wide.
  • Alignment between the lower level regional HRCD effort and national level HRCD effort is essentially required. This should be done at the level of civil servants. The role of top leadership is vital in this . From time to time the political leadership should review the  work of civil servants and ensure this alignment is happening in letter and spirit.

HRCD has became a vital need for country’s development. It is through this medium of human resource capacity that the other resources are changed and geared into motion. The role of the leadership comes under management concept of direction. Top leaders are accepted by all ; people, civil servant and other stake holders. Apart from playing the strategic  and motivational roles, they have to play the role of visionary. In the role of visionary they have to show the future path as well.” – Arkajyoti Samanta – Bangalore, India


Learner’s Submission: Online Public Services in Bangladesh

07/07/2015

“Bangladesh has already started her journey for Digital Bangladesh. This journey has changed the entire country. It is a movement for openness and connecting peoples, more citizen engagement to development. It ensures more access to information to the citizens. We use online public services every day in many areas, in many cases. Here are two important services facilitated by the Government of Bangladesh are described before all of you.
1. National Web Portal
Government of Bangladesh has inaugurated national web portal http://www.bangladesh.gov.bd. It combines about 25,000 web portals including portals of 61 ministries, 345 governments departments, 7 administrative divisions, 64 districts and 4550 unions. It makes a common platform where citizen can easily navigate to concerned portals and get opportunities accessing to information and services.

1.1 Services link available from National Web Portal
1. Application form for Passport
2. Income tax registration
3. Online birth and death registration
4. Online Visa check action
5. Download link of all government form
6. e-health care
7. e-book
8. Online Agriculture Call Centre
9. e-tender and e-GP
10. Application form for driving license

2. Union Digital Center and Union Web Portal
Union Council is the lowest local government unit in Bangladesh. We have total 4550 Union Councils in our country. Each Union Council has a web portal and a Union Digital Centre (UDC). UDC is directed by two entrepreneurs, one is male and another is female. Government decorates UDC with two laptops, internet modems with SIM, multimedia projector, photocopier, camera, printer, etc. It is a public private partnership; Government has made UDC supported with all modern ICT based equipment and it is operated by two entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs of UDC run maintain and update Union web portal.

2.1 Services given by Union Web Portal
Union Council web portal has published its organization, composition, budget, five year plans, tax policy, periodical report on tax collection, citizen charter, annual development plan, status of developmental works, profile of Chairman and Councilors, its communication map, infrastructure and way of communication, its population regarding each village, tourist spot. Here is some sector based services for the citizens published by Union Web Portal.

2.1.1 Agriculture
1. List of fertilizer dealers within the union
2. Information on food productions
3. Agriculture Information Service (AIS)

2.1.2 Lands
1. Union Land Office
2. Information regarding lands
3. Major functions of land office

2.1.3 Health Services
1. Hospital / Health Centers
2. List of health workers
3. List of health programs

2.1.4 Educational institutes and other institutes
1. List of Schools, colleges and madrashas
2. Bank and other financial organizations
3. Insurances
4. Non-governmental organization (NGO)
5. Mosques, Churches other religious institutes

2.1.5 Social safety net programs
1. List of poorest citizens
2. Vulnerable group feeding (VGF)
3. Motherhood allowances
4. Forty days’ work creation programs
5. Test relief
6. Local Governance Support Project II (LGSP II)
7. Freedom fighter allowance
8. Older people allowance
9. Disabilities allowance

Rudaghara Union Parishad is one of 4550 Union Councils situated in Dimuria Upazila, Khulna District. The web portal of Rudaghara Union Parishad is http://rudaghoraup.khulna.gov.bd/.

2.2 Union Digital Centre
Peoples have a direct access to each Union Digital Centre. It has provided opportunities to the citizens easy and cost effectively access trade information and services that affect their daily lives. At present, a farmer in a distant location can find out about appropriate fertilizer and pesticide use for his crops; a victim of domestic violence can access information on legal measures; a villager can apply for his land records, and people living from distant part of a backward village can access banking services from Union Digital Centre.

2.2. 1 Services given by Union Digital Centre
1. Public examination results
2. Government forms download
3. VGD/VGF card database
4. Online university admission
5. Data Entry
6. Birth and death registration
7. Trade information
8. Employment information
9. Visa processing /visa form printing
10. E-mail and Internet browsing
11. Video conferencing
12. Mobile Banking

Conclusion
Government of Bangladesh and its various institutions are now offering a lot of online services through their web portals. It has increasing more citizen engagement in governance. It also facilitates more efficient and effective service delivery to the citizens.” – Md. Aminul Islam – Khagrachari Sadar, Bangladesh


Learner’s Submission: Fighting Corruption

06/07/2015

“Corruption is a worldwide phenomenon which is fundamentally due to the lack of ethical behaviors. I think firmly that this problem is the most important factor that makes our country among the third world countries, given that most developed countries managed to eradicate corruption relatively.

So, how can we root out such a serious problem that is still threatening our economy and society?

First of all, I believe that making a reform starts by changing thoughts rather than behaviors, in other words: people in general and workers in particular should be sensitized about the seriousness of corruption, furthermore, Secondly, there’re various circumstances that provoke corruption, take for example the lack of anti-corruption associations which are the most important element that can participate in fighting corruption. So, such associations should be encouraged by the government in order to disclose the activities of criminal organizations and corrupt workers.

Thirdly, there’re several forms of corruption, the most spread one is bribery, and one could argue that bribery can be sometimes a necessity rather than a form of corruption.

In short, fighting bribery is not only the duty of government, nor is it only the duty of anti-corruption associations; it’s also the duty of every honest citizen who wants to participate in building his country.

The stated about corruption in another state. Censorship either done their job or been accused of corruption and become a casualty of the ever matter. We have faith that the first collective will is the only way in promoting our country and our people and making a better life and the dignity of the nation and citizens. I call upon every lover of the nation to look at Georgia and its revolution.

This new report by the World Bank today called the fight against corruption in public services, he said: history of reforms in Georgia Georgia’s experience in the fight against corruption has achieved a unique success and can be adapted many of its aspects and its application in the country face similar challenges in tackling corruption pervasive in the public services.

The report tried to answer questions about the experience since the Rose Revolution witnessed by Georgia in 2003, through case studies built on data taken from selected elements of the equipment on public services, and the IRS, customs, power supplies, and government actions Organization for Doing Business, civil and public records, and tests to qualify for the University, and municipal services, as well as interviews with government officials, current and former.

The report noted that the measures that the government began to be taken in the framework of packets policy and zero tolerance led to a severe contraction in the spread of bribery in different public services with the approach of most indicators now from levels that have become the European country most advanced were bribes necessary to get the most services public, such as extracting a driver’s license or passport, as well as to register property or start-up companies or building homes or join one of the public universities.

The report emphasized that inclusive and bolder, and rhythm and sequence of reforms to make Georgia a unique story shattered the myth that a culture of corruption, and gave hope for all policy-makers, government officials and citizens who are affected by the problem in many countries aspiring to cleanse the public services sector.

I see that citizens have a very important role in anti-corruption. Awareness Georgian government used a wide-range media campaign, public debates, were adults and criminals officials arrested, and placed signs along highways carry phone numbers to call in case of corruption, was used for technology efficiently in order to facilitate communication between the administrator and the citizen, as well as to follow up and to ensure accountability, and to confirm the idea that no one is above the law, and also confirmed that the government is serious about the decisions taken, have been achieving some of the goals which earned the people’s trust in the government’s work.

That civil society is possible that the constructive roles to monitor corruption cases, and that corruption is not just a money laundering or tax evasion, and corruption is facing the specter of the Egyptian citizen in his daily life. That will lead to engagements in society reform; improving the quality of civil society’s policy dialogue with Parliaments; and monitor progress of their implementation. This is why you, representatives of civil society, are so incredibly vital to the success of the Partnership.” – Ali Adel Ali Ali Ibrahim – Dakhlia , Egypt

REFRENCES:

  • Website : nbe.com , ANNUAL REPORTS
  • Fighting corruption in public services [electronic resource] : chronicling Georgia’s reforms
  • Transparency International: Georgia 51st in 2012 Corruption

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