Governments around the world are recognizing the value of e-Government. Properly designed and implemented, e-Government can improve efficiency in the delivery of government services, simplify compliance with government regulations, strengthen citizen participation and trust in government, and yield cost savings for citizens, businesses and the government itself. Not surprisingly, therefore, policymakers and managers are looking to adopt e-Government in countries around the world - ranging from the most developed to the least developed.
What is E-Government?
Stated simply, electronic government (e-Government) is the use of information technology to support government operations, engage citizens, and provide public services in a more efficient and transparent manner.
E-government can support more streamlined and responsive service, wider public participation, and more cost-effective business practices at every level of government. It ranges in complexity from basic access to official information to radically redesigned public processes. However, while e-government offers the opportunity to innovate, it also presents substantial policy, management, and technology challenges. Effective e-government initiatives require a realistic and comprehensive view of these challenges as well as a compelling vision of the benefits.
A worldwide revolution in information and communications technologies is occurring. The Internet, the personal computer, and the mobile phone are fundamentally changing our lives - affecting the way we work, learn and interact.
E-government is a way for governments to use the new technologies to provide people with more convenient access to government information and services, to improve the quality of the services and to provide greater opportunities to participate in our democratic institutions and processes. E-government presents us with some tremendous opportunities to move forward in the 21st century with higher quality, cost-effective, government services and a better relationship between citizens, visitors and the government.
The task for the Government is to build on these individual initiatives and develop them into a comprehensive plan for achieving the benefits of e-government more widely on behalf of all Grenadians. The ongoing development of e-government will improve the ability of all people to participate in our democracy. But, left to develop by itself, it has the potential to create new divisions in society between those who have the skills and tools to use the new technologies to participate in our democracy and those who do not. The Government is not prepared to allow this to happen.
Why do we need E-Government?
Grenadians will be able to have access to government information and services, and participate in our democracy, using the Internet, telephones and other technologies.
"Nothing will have a greater impact on the way governments interact with citizens and each other than their effective use of technology," Bill Gates said.
The use of technology will enable a transformation of government as the operation of government is improved by government departments and agencies as well as statutory bodies using technology to provide information and services and to achieve joint outcomes. Further, people's engagement with the government will be transformed as increasing and innovative use is made of the opportunities offered by network technologies.
The E-government Strategy provides the framework for the transformation to happen.
How will e-government improve the quality of government, and peoples' participation in it?
E-government will improve government in four important ways.
- It will be easier for people to have their say in government.
- For example, consider a situation where a Ministry proposes to make changes to the way it provides a particular service. It could outline the proposed policy changes on its Internet site and seek comment from people who have something to say about those services, and the proposed new policy. The feedback could then be used to refine that policy.
- People will receive more integrated services because different government organisations will be able to communicate more effectively with each other.
- For example, as a result of an accident, a person may need to talk to several different government organisations - the general hospital, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Services - outlining their personal circumstances and needs to each organisation. If the three organisations have the ability to share information and integrate their services, the person need only go through that process once instead of three times.
- People will get better services from government organisations.
- For example, instead of joining a queue to renew a driver’s licence, the licence-holder will be able do it from his or her home and at any time of the day on any day of the week. This will be of particular benefit to those Grenadians who do not live in St. George’s or even in Grenada. This will improve flexibility, speed and access to government services, and it has another potential benefit - lowering the cost of providing the service by government.
- People will be better informed because they can get up-to-date and comprehensive information about government laws, regulations, policies and services.
- For example, if a person wants to transport an oversize load of materials by truck or trailer from one side of town to the other, he or she has to get a hold of the appropriate road safety regulations, which are available only in a printed form. Making that kind of information available on the Internet will improve peoples' ability to go about their leisure or work-time activities safely and within the law.
What are the important issues the Government needs to take into account in developing ways of using information and communications technologies to improve Grenadian’s participation in our democracy?
- Opportunities can be lost because no government organisation takes the leading responsibility to oversee and coordinate development of e-government for the benefit of citizens.
- The Central Information Management Agency (CIMA) is providing a leadership role for the implementation of e-government in collaboration with the Department of Public Administration.
- People may be quickly divided into two groups - those who have the skills and tools to use the new technologies and those who do not.
- The purpose of e-government is to bring people together - not to push them apart. The Government is committed to ensuring that:
- conventional means of access to government are maintained for those people who need them;
- community access to the Internet is available for those people who, for any reason, can not access it from their homes; and
- educational and public information programmes are used to help Grenadians, young and old, in using the new technologies.
- There are concerns that Governments can know too much about people and could use that information inappropriately.
- To guard against this risk, the Government will continue to:
- review, and strengthen where necessary, policies and legislation designed to protect peoples' privacy; and
- provide safeguards around the sharing of people's personal information among Government agencies.
- Governments can become impersonal
- The Government's vision - Grenadians will be able use telephones, personal computers and the Internet to gain access to government information and services and participate in our democracy - provides a focus on people. Adoption of e-government will improve peoples' ability to participate in government, and will improve the public sector's ability to provide effective and efficient services. But it is still only a means to an end. The end is improving the lives of all Grenadians through the development of a system of world class professional State Services, serving the government of the day and meeting the needs of Grenadians.
How will people judge what progress have been made towards achieving the Government's vision?
To help understand what implementation of the vision can mean and how we can gauge the extent to which it has been successful, we will look at questions like:
- Are Grenadians able to achieve the results they need, without searching across many agencies?
- Can Grenadians get consistent service whichever combination of channels they use to engage with government?
- Can Grenadians provide information to government just once, or do they have to provide the same information many times to different agencies?
- Do workers in State agencies work with colleagues across the sector to put results for Grenadians ahead of individual agency interests?
- Are they drawing on the best examples of learning and development and tools from across the government sector?
- Are mechanisms being developed for agencies to work together and share information and research?
- Are infrastructure and systems supporting collaboration and partnership?
- Are Grenadians using the services provided by agencies, and are barriers to access being reduced?
- Are Grenadians finding the government services intended for them?
- How much do agencies know about the experience of service users and do they use this knowledge to improve service delivery?
- Do Grenadians have confidence in the integrity of government agencies and workers?
The Government will also issue regular reports of progress in the E-government Strategy.
How does the e-government vision fit in with the Government's other social and economic strategies?
The Government has provided strategic leadership for Grenada’s digital future by developing an Information and Communication Technology Strategy. This sets out how digital content and network technologies can contribute to a transformed economy and society. The Central Information Management Agency is leading the promotion of Development Goals which guide the State Services in how they can contribute to this transformation.
The E-government Strategy identifies the approach government will take in carrying out its obligations under the ICT Strategy, and how technology will be used in achieving the Development Goals.
United Nations E-Government Survey 2010
E-Government for Regional Integration Project (EGRIP)
(PDF 8.19 MB)