Electronic Government Challenges and Opportunities

Electronic Government ( e – Gov ) essentially refers to the utilization of Information and Communication Technologies ( ICTs ) for delivering government information and services to citizens ( G2C ), businesses ( G2B ), employees ( G2E ) and governments ( G2G ). The most obvious benefit of e – government from an organizational perspective is to improve the efficiency of the current system so that in turn it can save money and time.

For example, moving away from a heavily paper – based system to an electronic system can reduce the need for manpower, that results in a reduction in operational costs. From the citizens’ perspective, one of the most important benefits of e – government ( in comparison to manual systems ) is the anywhere and anytime availability of Government Services to citizens.

Other benefits of E – Government for citizens include : The provision of multilingual information content, disabled – friendly navigation and accessibility of content and regular updates on the latest changes in government related information, services and schemes. Furthermore, eGov services would reduce the need for printed paper ; hence, they contribute to a greener planet and a sustainable ecosystem. Using the Internet makes finding information easier by means of a “look and feel” approach.

Poor governance ( which contributes to problems such as autocracy, corruption, a lack of transparency and accountability ) is considered to be one of the major issues of many developing countries. Effective e – Gov implementation would enable e – Governance, which, in turn, has the potential to reduce autocracy and corruption and to create better transparency and accountability through citizen engagement and participation in government decision making. Therefore, e – Governance could be considered to be one of the ultimate desirable outcomes of e – Gov implementation.

India has made rapid strides in the area of ICT in recent decades. The Government of India has also acknowledged that ICT has played a pivotal role in bringing government services to the doorsteps of the people in the last few years. E – governance is significant in the Indian context due to the fact that the effective use of ICT has enabled the delivery of government services to a large base of people across different segments and geographical locations and, therefore, marks a step forward towards creating a more inclusive society.

The effective use of ICT services in government administration has significantly improved efficiency, driven down communication costs and increased transparency in the functioning of different departments. Keeping in mind the various positive impacts of e – Governance, in May 2006 the Government of India approved the National e – Governance Plan ( NeGP ) with the vision to, “Make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, throughout common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man”.

However, there seems to be numerous issues and challenges on the road to the successful realization of e – Government in the Indian context. These issues can be divided into three main categories : Technical, Economic and Social issues. Technical issues include interoperability, privacy, security and multimodal interaction. Economical issues are mainly concerned with a return on investment and the safeguard of technical issues, including costs, maintainability, re – usability and portability.

Whereas most significant issues in terms of growth and the widespread adoption of e – Gov are social issues, they include a lack of awareness and the adoption and use of government services offered electronically by a larger community. Another set of challenges lie in extending the reach of e – Government services to rural communities. Overcoming such challenges requires the evaluation of local needs and the customization of e – Gov solutions to meet those needs the provision of connectivity to rural and remote populations the development of web content in local languages and building a human resources knowledge force.

A combined and synergistic effort is needed from researchers, practitioners and government agencies to overcome such issues and challenges by creating opportunities conducive to the further development and diffusion of e – Gov. As per our comprehensive exploration, many academic, commercial and government institutions ( both within and outside India ) are working in this area to create various types of desired opportunities for scholarly and professional development.

The following opportunities are suitable for academics, PhD scholars, professionals and job seekers in the area of e – Government :

National Institute for Smart Government ( NISG ), located in Hyderabad, was founded on the recommendations of the National Task Force on IT and software development. NISG services include providing consultations to both Central and State Government in India regarding the development and implementation of various e – Gov – related projects. NISG provides consulting experience for both technical and non – technical issues related to e – Gov and also is involved in capacity – building and change management through partnerships with both government and private Institutions. They also advertise a number of vacancies for different management positions and ongoing government projects.

ABM Knowledge ware Ltd. ( ABM ) is an IT company listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange. ABM has developed a thorough insight into the development, implementation and institutionalization of e – Governance in the Indian context. This is evident from various eGov projects ( such as the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation ( KDMC ) project, the Property Tax project for the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai ( MCGM ), an ERP – based integrated and holistic e – Governance solution for MCGM and the AQUA project for water billing and accounting for MCGM, the e – Municipality covering 231 municipal bodies across the Government of Maharashtra, to name a few ) that have been successfully undertaken by this organization. Job seekers with relevant experience and capabilities in the area of management, software development and functional consultancy can look for appropriate jobs in this company.

Inkroma E – Business Solutions Pvt. Ltd. is a six sigma e – Governance company involved in implementing end to end e – Governance product based solutions. Suitable opportunities for both technical and non – technical job seekers may also arise in this organization.

Research opportunities : A number of Universities and academic Institutions have well – established research groups focusing on eGov related issues. Researchers and potential doctoral candidates may like to explore the following research groups and centres for research related opportunities for example :

  • The Center for Technology in Government ( CTG ) is an applied research centre in SUNY Albany, USA, which provides government organizations and individuals with an array of tools and resources designed to support the development of digital government.
  • The Technology and Innovation Management ( TIM ) Group at Swansea University, Wales, UK, has also developed research expertise in this area and staff from this group are actively engaged in publishing research and supervising doctoral candidates on this topic.

This group provides an opportunity for eligible candidates to undertake doctoral research or collaborative research leading to paper publications. Within India, The Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi and the School of Management, MNNIT, hosts worlds leading academics under taking research, consultancy and PhD supervision related to the eGov area and has already produced a number of PhD scholars specializing in eGov – related issues.

The above specified Institutions are the just few examples, anyone interested in exploring other such Institutions within and outside India should post their query on the electronic mailing list, as it has been specially created for the global eGov community and serves the interests of people from both academic and practitioner backgrounds. Anyone with an interest in eGov can subscribe to this list and post their queries related to doctoral or postdoctoral opportunities and current developments taking place in this area.

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