i s s u e a r e a s
E-Government: eGEEC 2005 Romania
Building Local E-Government through Public-Private Partnerships
Sinaia, Romania, Sept 12-13, 2005
The USAID-funded Romanian Information Technology Initiative
Project (RITI dot-Gov), in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of
Communications and Information Technology, convened an e-government
forum on building local projects through public private partnerships on
September 12-13, 2005. The conference attracted public and private
sector delegates from Romania and throughout Eastern Europe for an
examination of e-government concepts, best practices and implementation
techniques. The presentations covered, among other issues, the
financing of e-government initiatives, citizen participation in the
development of e-government projects, and sophisticated initiatives
such as e-taxation and the use of geo-spatial information.
- It is important to have a national strategy for
e-government, covering all three phases: publish, interact, transact.
In the rush to develop more sophisticated transactional services,
administrators should not fail to complete publish initiatives. As part
of the e-government strategy and its implementation, public officials
must identify legal and policy barriers to e-government. The strategy
should specify target groups and needs and identify priorities.
- The e-government strategy should be part of an overall national ICT strategy that addresses affordability and accessibility.
- E-gov initiatives should be monitored and measured, in
order to replicate successes and achieve citizen trust, and avoid
wasting resources on projects that are not serving genuine needs.
- Partnership and collaboration among public
institutions, the business sector, and non-governmental organizations
will help ensure e-government success. It is especially important that
citizens be consulted in the development of e-government services and
educated in their use.
- Public administrators in Eastern Europe interested in
e-government do not need to re-invent the wheel. The region has
sufficient talent and experience to make e-government a broad reality.
It is necessary now to connect the dots – to take the lessons learned
from successful projects in the region and weave them together into a
comprehensive approach to e-government.
- E-government is not separate from the other
fundamentals of government; rather, e-government projects must be
related to broader goals of transforming public administration by
making it more transparent, less cumbersome, and more responsive to the
needs of citizens and business.
- The e-gov vision has to be connected to local culture and local administration.
Gains & Benefits
- For e-government projects to be successful, it is
necessary to obtain the support of incumbent public servants, including
by providing them with training and incentives to use the technology.
International donors cannot on their own create successful e-government
- E-government depends on the general policy framework
and infrastructure for digital communications. That policy framework
must be designed to support innovation, expand access, and generate
trust in online systems.
- Leadership at the very top of government (at any
level) is necessary to the success of e-government. The president or
provincial governor or mayor must make it clear that the bureaucracy
must support e-government and use the process of adopting e-government
tools to manage differently.
- Use of e-government resources will become widespread
if there is a national commitment to fostering the information society,
starting with education.
- E- government can improve efficiency, increase transparency and lighten the regulatory burden on new businesses.
- Many of the benefits of e-government for the citizen
are practical -- time and money savings, 24/7 availability -- but there
are also important democratizing benefits. These include improved
transparency and accountability as well as the expanded possibility of
citizens making their voices heard in policymaking, such as by having
the opportunity to comment on proposed laws and regulations.
- E-government can make it easier to track administrative services, reducing the opportunities for corruption.
Planning and Implementation Issues
- Key factors in e-government success are:
- expanding access to the ICT infrastructure;
responsiveness to citizen/business needs;
trust based on security and data protection
cross-jurisdiction and cross-sector cooperation;
- Government officials seeking to create online services
are integrators - that is why they should look to form partnerships.
Public administrators must be capable of selecting vendors and managing
- Citizen participation is critical. Citizens are
skeptical of government and they want to see results when tax money is
being spent. Therefore, e-government projects should have a measurement
component aimed not only at international donors but at ordinary
citizens, so they can see the value in e-government services. That
value will drive demand for Internet access.
- Civil society advocates have an important role to
play in ensuring that the systems that are being procured meet the
needs of the citizens.
- E-government should aim for the transformation of
government, rather than merely computerizing inefficient offline
procedures. ICTs offer the opportunity to shift from traditional
methods of public administration to more streamlined approaches.
- The most important shift is that the citizen is the focus of public administration.
The Access Question
- A common challenge faced by e-government projects has
been the resistance to change in the bureaucracies themselves.
Administrators need to address this resistance directly, with
incentives and training.
- Governmental entities planning e-government
initiatives need a mechanism to find out what has already been done in
other jurisdictions, in order to not duplicate efforts. There should be
a common database of e-government resources and initiatives for the
- When a local governmental body is seeking to launch
an initiative and there are not enough users locally to sustain the
project, the local entity should consider a regional partnership.
- Administrators should be honest about their mistakes,
so that others can build on the lessons learned from failed projects as
well as successful ones.
- E-government projects in societies with low Internet
penetration face a ‘chicken and egg’ problem: which should government
policy promote first -- widespread Internet access or useful online
content and services aimed at the domestic population? The answer is
that the availability of online services can drive demand for Internet
access. Public administrators should not wait until the access issue is
solved. But it is incumbent on administrators to develop projects that
are genuinely responsive to citizen and business needs, so that the
availability of those services will drive demand for ICT access.
- It is very important to define and measure success.
Those procuring e-government services should insist that vendors build
metrics into their applications. Developing metrics includes defining
the target audience and the desired outcomes.
- The people who are implementing e-government systems
have to believe in them. Therefore, public administrators have to be
trained, starting in some cases with the very basics of computer
technology and then moving up to applications.
- Because public trust is so important, project design
should include security and data protection. In addition, systems
should be designed with simplicity and robustness.
- When a project is based on an application developed
in a Western country or by a Western vendor, make sure it is adapted to
the local reality and needs.
- E-government projects have to take into account the
legislative and regulatory framework. Policymakers should examine that
framework to identify areas where reform is needed to permit
- When dealing with matters as important as tax information, system designers you have to take into account data protection.
- One of the reasons for Estonia’s success in
e-government is that in 1995 it launched a nationwide effort to make
the Internet widely available, including through public access points,
and to train its citizens in ICT skills, beginning with the public
schools and libraries. Computerization of schools boosts computer
literacy. Hence, ministries of education are critical in developing the
foundation for e-government and national integration into the global
- In a number of countries, a major issue to expand
access remains the dismantling of telecomm monopolies and the expansion
of competition in ICT services.
- Policymakers and public administrators should look for
creative financing mechanisms. For example, banks might be interested
in collaborating on e-government projects and financing trainings
because they will also promoting the use of online banking services.
Banks have an interest in use of e-services because they are less
expensive. Support for Internet banking could provide a foundation for
- There are many opportunities for financing. For
instance, the conference heard about a project financed mainly by the
local Flemish government in Belgium. In order to attract funding,
government entities must define a project, chose a partner, and be
prepared to offer matching local support.
- The region has very sophisticated projects at both the
national and the local levels. The next step is to knit these projects
together into a coherent vision of e-government so that national and
local authorities can begin to develop a consistency among the projects
and a linkage between them.
- Interoperability should be a focus of the next phase of e-government
planning, including at the European level.
- E-government should not be seen only as the Web. The
cellphone may be one of the most important portals for e-government
services. Wireless communications open the possibility for a whole new
gamut of applications. E-government projects should take into account
people who will use public access points at cyber cafes and libraries
or post offices.
- Governments can expand access in concrete ways,
including through public access points at schools and libraries and
with kiosks, which have been demonstrated throughout the region.
- One of our main missions today is to make citizens
and small business owners realize the value of using the Internet and
other ICT tools.
eGovEEC is a USAID funded activity performed by the RITI |dot.GOV Project that is implemented by Internews Network. This conference is organized in collaboration with the Romanian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.