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POLS210 American Government I

Published : 08-Sep,2021  |  Views : 10

Question:

The following issue: "With any two countries or regions of your choice assess the extent to which UNESCO 2005 definition of e-governance and its aims have been realised."

Answer:

With the growth and development of technology every aspect of the lives of common people are being majorly impacted by this change. The availability and the decreased rate of internet charges have encouraged common people to use internet connectivity to the optimum level. From food to transport to meeting someone across the globe is all within a few clicks away on the Smartphone. With these advancement governments across the world is also trying to incorporate internet and flexibility in the jurisdictional and implementation process. Electronic Governance abbreviated as e-governance is the Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-based application intended to deliver public services, communication transactions, and numerous transaction services between government-to-government (G2G), government-to-business (G2B), and government-to-citizen (G2C) (Choi, 2015). The definition of e-governance provided by UNESCO explains the way electronic medium can be used to implement governance of a country’s affair along with the feedback of the citizens’ the definition also explains that this process leads to a transparent process in between the authority and the citizen. The target market who avails the services is the citizens, government and industry and business groups. As per the 2005 UNESCO definition, government sector uses ICT-based application in order to improve service delivery, and encourages citizens in the government’s decision-making process in order to make the government activity more effective and transparent (Ly & Cho, 2014). On the contrary, Electronic Government abbreviated as e-government is the Information and Communication Technology-based services in public administration in order to improve government services and bolster public support (Creed et al., 2014). In recent days, when countries around the world are fighting for the exploitation-free government, e-government is one-sided communication protocol whereas e-governance is the two-sided communication protocol (Creed et al., 2014).

The main aim of the G2C e-governance is to provide numerous ICT-based technology services to the respected citizens in a well-efficient manner in order bolster the relationship between government and citizen (Creed et al., 2014). This e-governance is uneven throughout the globe because everyone neither have the access of internet and nor have the required computing skills. On the other hand, in early 1990s, e-commerce had been introduced as the form of e-forms in the government activities (Gao & Lee, 2017). From that time onwards, government started taking initiatives to lessen the waste. G2B is a Web-based economic communication between the local and central government and the businesses intended to provide all the business-related information to the public. There are several benefit that can be obtained from the incorporation of e-governance. E-governance helps to mitigate corruption, provide transparency in public work, and also helps to increase the GDP growth rate. Similarly, it also helps to lessen up the productive cost and also increase the communication between the government authority and general audience. Through the incorporation of e-governance raises the quality of technical information and services. However, the process is quite complicated as there is requirement in hardware and software networking services in order to get better services.

According to the UNESCO 2005 guidelines of e-governance, government deals with various leadership approaches, new policies and investment, new form of education which can easily be transferred among the citizen, and new approaches to deliver information technology among the young age groups (Gao & Lee, 2017).  It is also considered as the public performance through electronic device in order to perform efficient and transparent task.  It helps to determine the current e-governance status considering several actions and parameters. According to them, from 2005 onwards, focus has been shifted to Web-based index, telecommunication infrastructure index and Human Capital Index (Gao & Lee, 2017). In this context, United States, European Union and Asia are considered to be the top ranked in e-governance services (He, 2016).

In general, e-governance can be followed through three stages. The first stage is the computerization stage all the government offices and agencies are connected through the Internet and other technical equipments (Holzer & Manoharan, 2016). The second step involves networking. In this stage, few public organizations are connected through several technical hubs and started sharing database information to several government entities. This stage shows their online existence. After all the organizations are connected to the Internet, in this stage they started creating their Web portal (Lawson-Body et al., 2014). Normally, in this Web page they share about the information about their organizational structure, contact details, vision and mission of their organization many others (Holzer & Manoharan, 2016). The final stage is their online interactivity. After creating the online portal, in order to lessen up personal interface, they started providing online downloadable information, forms, acts, rules and regulation.

The e-governance of the United States has been discussed in the following section: 

ICT-based application has committed to major form of innovation between US government and the citizens. These new technology have led to the emanation of e-government that is intended to deliver information services. The main concept of e-governance in the United States started in the early 1990s with the emergence of interactive multiple access computer communities (Ljungholm, 2015). Based on the regional and ethnic belief and several migratory patterns scholars has identified several political culture dispersed in the United States. Those cultures include moralistic, traditionalistic and individualistic cultures.

Due to the incorporation of e-governance, online services act as a mechanism to deliver information services, and strengthen citizen’s participation in government’s decision-making process (Meijer, 2015). The ICT which is headed by Federal Government’s Chief Information Officer, intended to provide and develop Web-based technologies and activities that in turn helps local citizens to interact with the government and consolidate people’s participation (Noesselt, 2014). Because of the people’s involvement, information now is more easily available to the citizen, public programs are more cost efficient and people can now engage in political process staying at their comfort zone; and most importantly, it helps to develop trust between the local people and government. In recent days, due to the rapid increasing demand for e-networking helps the local citizen to manage online transaction-related services including online payment, ticket parking fees, submission of taxes, and job applications, property related enrolment, license renewal and many others (Norris & Reddick, 2014). In fact, several optimists argued that Internet can enhance democratic action and help to interact with the government to seek information from community. The United States which considered to be the largest developed country across the world has entitled to the most advanced e-governance infrastructural system (Paulo 2016). For this reason, US government adopted three e-governance strategies a) citizen-oriented b) result oriented c) market-oriented. In brief, US-based e-governance implementation strategies intended to support the citizens by clear and specific assessments (Choi, 2015). A set of e-governance laws has been set up that includes Privacy Protection Act, Computer Security Act, Government Paperwork Elimination Act, Electronic Government Act among others. In fact, by bargaining the IT spending the respective government can save up to $1billion from unnecessary investment (Schnoll, 2015). This enormous level of IT spending gives the excessive opportunities for the local government to transform as a citizen-oriented e-governance (Chen & Xie, 2015). However, it is a fact that a huge proportion of money is devoted to the Internet activities. In this context, a report published by the Pew Foundation revealed that around 71 million Americans daily use numerous government sites (Paulo 2016). In fact, FirstGov.gov website able to attract around 6 million users per month and received the Innovation in American Government award for outweighing the conventional boundaries (Rana, Dwivedi & Williams, 2015). However, there are several e-governance obstacles which are efficiently handled by the e-governance managers. Those obstacles include absence of leadership support, connection and funding. Other obstacles include less citizen-oriented results (Norris & Reddick, 2014). The solutions to these problems lie in several factors (Holzer & Manoharan, 2016). For this, government must have to provide single source of information that can be obtain with a single click; a one-stop portal like Reservtions.gov and incorporating proper data collection methods and techniques (Schnoll, 2015). In 2005, the overall e-governance strategies address the areas mentioned in the next section:

Productivity advancement: Reform in Information Technology management helps to improve in the areas of homeland security-related information and the knowledge progress.

Restricting IT-related expenditure: Reform in the government infrastructure helps to control cost massacre, enterprise licensing and excessive IT service charges (Schnoll, 2015).

Cyber security advancement: Reform in Information technology management helps to improve network threat and vulnerability and online privacy protection (Norris & Reddick, 2014). Overall, the main aim of the US government in 2005 was to focus the government performance while minimizing the cost.

The e-governance of China has been discussed in the next section:

The e-governance strategy in China is quite one-dimensional in recent days. However, Chinese people are very optimistic about its forthcoming development. In this context, Shanghai’s e-government strategy and their implementation play an important role as the role model for other Chinese cities and provinces to check out (Shi et al., 2014). On the other hand, China government’s public switching size was around 300 million which is considered to be the world’s largest and this was possible only because of the government’s supply-oriented programs with the double digit growth rate in early 1990s (Snead & Wright, 2014). All the funds needed for the e-governance implementation strategy is sponsored at the local and provincial level. In fact, central government’s total investment in implementing the strategy is around $120 billion and China is able to set up more than 150 gov.cn domain throughout the country (Snead & Wright, 2014). However, as per the last report published by the China Internet Network Center, the government domain has increased to around 6,000 in China (Shi et al., 2014). Chinese government stimulated the construction of network infrastructural activities by the end of 2005 (Venkatesh et al., 2016). Since the incorporation of ‘Digital Beijing’, an initiative taken by the Beijing Municipal Government in order to fully computerize the public administrational procedure and educational system, the country has shows enough headway on the concept of e-governance (Taylor et al., 2014). This e-governance implementation strategy is not only limited to Beijing, Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province have also taken initiatives on this regard. Moreover, in 2009, Guangdong in partnered with Guangzhou set up Digital Guangdong Initiative (Carter et al., 2015). The main aim of the e-government strategy is to strengthen the domestic network in order to manage public activities at every stage and the extraneous Web-based network to manage businesses and to communicate with the audiences. This strategy is also helps to stimulates several information regarding population and agricultural activities. Also by the end of the last decade, almost 80% of government offices at the national and local level had their authorized Web pages (Snead & Wright, 2014). The Nanjing city’s government Website was incorporated in the late 90’s (Venkatesh et al., 2016). The main government website bNanjing China is the key portal there. Apart from the main sites there are 66 other websites as well and all those websites are linked with numerous bureaus, public offices and commissions (Venkatesh et al., 2016). This helps to improve the transparency of the government websites and lessen the corrupt practices.

As previously mentioned there are noticeable differences between the United States and China’s e-governance implementation strategy in terms of the proposed theoretical ground (Yu, 2015). However, the main objective of the e-governance is quite similar to the US e-governance strategy in the sense that both countries have focused for the betterment of public performance and administration in order to help their respected citizens to live a better life and also helps to strengthen the communication between the government and their people and business enterprises (Banerjee et al., 2015). In generalized terms, China’s e-governance strategy is to convert China’s economy from ‘planning economy’ to ‘market economy’ (Shi et al., 2014). On the contrary, US economy is based on a market economy and public administration and work culture are more translucent than China. Therefore, government transparency is a much needed thing in China compared to the United States. For this reason, Shanghai’s exclusive business strategy is to boost up the transparency of governmental activities (Al-Hujran et al., 2014). Rather than accomplishing the common objectives, Shanghai’s e-governance strategy used government as an instrument for applying in public revolution and conformity.

The local government is tremendously successful in acting as a commander in restructuring the telecom industry which is also China’s one of the most successful strategy till date (Chen & Xie, 2015). In this context, several government websites play an important role in delivering one-way services rather than the two-sided one. All the residents can be able to learn community events and employment opportunity, determine fiscal health of the country; government also started several business websites where numerous information about business activities posted that helps business people to understand and expand their business (Ly & Cho, 2014). The technical infrastructure in Shanghai has encountered major changes in recent days. In the beginning of the twentieth century, Shanghai’s internet access had expanded to 2.5G and covered almost 99% of the total city (Xia, 2017). More than 3.1 million users currently have the access of internet (Wu, 2014). However, the cost of subscribing the internet is way more expensive than the United States. On the other hand, the network learning is boosting up in Shanghai. The broadband width has increased to 1.25G from 64k (Wu, 2014). Even 19 universities together launched online informational databases to share educational information with others (Xia, 2017). Initially, they were able to create 12,000 databases which further extended to 200,000 databases online (Yu, 2015).

Various universities have started taking initiatives of providing e-learning system in every school in China through their net-school projects. However, the same initiatives have been started long ago in the United States. As per the Technical Achievement Index, China ranked as 45th out of 72 countries, whereas US ranked as 2nd in the list (Yu, 2015). According to the US government’s white paper strategy, around 60% of Web users daily interact to the several government websites. On the contrary, Chinese citizens do not pay their taxes, do not have their driving licences, birth and ID proofs among others and there is also a lack of access of Internet and only 10% of current population has the access of Internet (Taylor et al., 2014). For this reason, Enterprise Online started taking initiatives to encourage organizations to fully adopt Internet technologies. On the other hand, Family Online also helps to spread the Internet access among all the Chinese family including the regional and remote rural areas.

Shenzhen city discharged the government 5-year plan regarding cyber security (Venkatesh et al., 2016). The main aim of this plan is to spread the internet access to the municipal and district government organizations in order to helps the citizen to more quickly get the access of Internet for the government information. For this, they are able to connect internet with telecommunication networks, wireless data network, cable networks, public communication network and many others. Another city in China, called Nanhai incorporated e-government strategy bNanhai Government Information Network System (Xia, 2017). The main aim of their strategy is to strengthen is to improve city and country township internet network. Therefore, in brief, while improving the economic development, China also focuses on improving the e-governance strategy and mechanism in order to accomplish the major objective of providing the transparent public administration services (Wu, 2014). For this reason, China has adopted separate implementation strategy from the United States government and within a very brief time period they are able to accomplish their desired goals.

Few believe that e-governance can boost public effectiveness and transparency and strengthen the citizen-government interactions. However, several technical difficulties and organizational barriers may cripple down the development of e-governance (Ljungholm, 2015). However, despite getting several online services, hindrance remains in the United States (Choi, 2015). Those are the absence of information technology that could help to lessen error, restricted e-governance services, unequal telecom infrastructure throughout the United States. According to this study, this helps to determine the current situation of e-government across all size of municipalities and professional administration and several political cultures strengthen the e-government standards (Meijer, 2015). In order to execute e-government strategies, US government develops several action-based plans for generating customer awareness; whereas China gives more important to transform their planned economy to the market economy. Moreover, developed country like United States has a capitalistic economist system, whereas China is in the process of creating transparent government and cultural system. Network policy is considered to be the weakest sector of China (Banerjee et al., 2015). China has been in the way of transforming their nation from planned economy to market economy. A study based on 100 US cosmopolitan areas revealed that most of the country’s citizens prefer to communicate with city officials and engage in various online transactions and activities (Rana, Dwivedi & Williams, 2015). The study also shows that citizens also successfully participate in numerous governmental activities. Even the China recently started following the same rule to participate several governmental activities.

Each year, United Nations reveals report and compares the economic conditions of developed and developing countries (Lawson-Body et al., 2014). Since the year on incorporation of e-governance, it is one of the main agenda in various countries. In fact, few countries outweigh the others in online activities that they started offering the services to the neighbourhood countries. Literacy indicators show that third-world countries have 7% out of total population have enrolled in the primary schools (He, 2016). On the other hand, the research on telecom media reveals that only 3% of population has the online access in Bangladesh and only 9% have the access of daily newspaper (He, 2016). Although new e-governance-based technologies can help to improve the standard of living of around 80% of the world population (Lawson-Body et al., 2014). Therefore, United States has been effectively implemented the e-governance strategy in a quicker way compared to the China. In fact, China also recognized the rapid technology development in the US, and tried to apply the same in their own country. The basic gap between the two countries lies in the absence of information technological infrastructure, detail knowledge and skills and lack of capital-intensive infrastructure.

However, despite the above-mentioned advantages from the incorporation of e-governance, some disadvantages need to be considered. A considerable disadvantage is that e-governance confines all the citizens who does not have the access of internet. So, it is necessary to have the internet connection and sound internet knowledge to avail the service. Therefore, the incorporation of this strategy leads to the country’s population segmentation. Moreover, a large amount of money is spent on successfully implementing the strategy. However, many countries are economically, politically or educationally separated; therefore introducing such a strategy can lead to a problematic situation for them as well. Another disadvantage is that as it is a technology-based service, therefore it is quite easy to give excuses about the lack of technology. If people started facing the problem government worker become more irresponsible about their actions towards the audience that in turn make the public administration work less effective and transparent.

Therefore, it is quite clear that there possess several advantages and disadvantages as well while implementing the e-governance strategy. People are basically forced to take the internet access in order to avail the service. However, every country must have to adopt this strategy if they want the services to be successful in the long run. It is also a fact that if a country’s major portion of the citizen lacks the internet access or does not have minimum knowledge of information technology, then there is no basis to apply the above strategy. Therefore, the country’s government must have to maintain a balance taken care of their people’s demand and satisfaction. Only then it will be possible to use e-governance as a successful tool for the betterment of the citizen as well as the economy.

However, various obstacles faced by both the countries while implementing the strategies. Mainly social, cultural, economical and political challenges are the barriers in e-government implementation. Moreover, major complication in the information technology management puts another severe barrier in implementing those strategies. Even though there are several researches published regarding the concept of e-governance, however, it is a fact that the strategy of e-governance is mainly from the developed country perspective rather than the developing country perspective. As there is a huge difference between the developed and developing country, most of the developing countries always try to follow the developed country’s strategy and adopt their policy and culture. Therefore, some initiatives are needed in order to fulfil this gap. As there is a substantial difference in the proposed and actual strategy groundwork, it is quite difficult to adopt developed country’s strategy and implement them in developing country. Therefore, developing country must also acknowledge the critical success factor mentioned in the proposed e-government approach and learn some successful strategies and try to implement them on their own. In this context, all the successful strategies can be exercised through different survey procedure. In fact, with the proper instruction and guidance, all the proposed e-governance strategy frameworks can be applied in developing and underdeveloped countries in a more effective and efficient way.

References

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Banerjee, A., Duflo, E., Imbert, C., Mathew, S., & Pande, R. (2014). Can e-governance reduce capture of public programs? Experimental evidence from a financial reform of India’s employment guarantee. Accessed February, 15, 2017.

Carter, L., Weerakkody, V., Phillips, B., & Dwivedi, Y. K. (2016). Citizen adoption of e-government Services: Exploring citizen perceptions of online services in the United States and United Kingdom. Information Systems Management, 33(2), 124-140.

Chen, S., & Xie, Z. (2015). Is China's e-governance sustainable? Testing Solow IT productivity paradox in China's context. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 96, 51-61.

Choi, Y. (2015). Introduction to the special issue on “Sustainable E-Governance in Northeast Asia: Challenges for Sustainable Innovation”.

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Gao, X., & Lee, J. (2017). E-government services and social media adoption: Experience of small local governments in Nebraska state. Government Information Quarterly.

He, Z. (2016). Local Government Innovation and Revealed Ideas of Political Legitimacy: a Comparative Study between the United States and China. Journal of Chinese Political Science, 21(1), 1-19. 

Holzer, M., & Manoharan, A. P. (2016). Digital Governance in Municipalities Worldwide (2015-16). The E-Governance Institute, National Center for Public Performance School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University-Newark, 2015-16.

Lawson-Body, A., Illia, A., Willoughby, L., & Lee, S. (2014). Innovation characteristics influencing veterans' adoption of e-government services. Journal of computer information systems, 54(3), 34-44.

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