In the arena of advanced technology, e-government has distinct place and it facilitates to huge number of customers to perform their task speedily. As the Internet supported digital communities grow, they present the national governments with numerous challenges and opportunities.
e-Governance which also known as electronic governance is basically the application of Information and Communications Technology to the processes of Government functioning in order to bring about ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent’ governance (Governance for The Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007), Planning Commission, November, 2001 ).
E-governance involve the use of ICTs by government organisations for exchange of information with citizens, businesses or other government departments, faster and more efficient delivery of public services, improving internal efficiency, reducing costs / increasing revenue, re-structuring of administrative processes and improving quality of services.
Concept of e-Governance
E governance has gained more popularity in convoluted business world. Many management scholars have described the concept of e governance which is emerging as an important activity in the business field.
It is established that E-governance is the application of information and communication technologies to transform the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of informational and transactional exchanges with in government, between government & govt. agencies of National, State, Municipal and Local levels, citizen & businesses, and to empower citizens through access & use of information (Mahapatra, 2006).
Use by government agencies of information technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government.
These technologies can serve a variety of different ends: better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management. The resulting benefits can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and or cost reductions.
-World Bank, on E-governance
A transparent smart e-Governance with seamless access, secure and authentic flow of information crossing the interdepartmental barrier and providing a fair and unbiased service to the citizen.
– Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
Historical review and current position of e-governance
It has been documented that in the decade of nineties, there was major Global shifts towards increased deployment of IT by governments due to emergence of the World Wide Web. The technology as well as e-governance enterprises have come a long way since then. With the upsurge in Internet and mobile connections, people are learning to utilize their new mode of access in various ways. They have started expecting more and more information and services online from governments and corporate organizations to advance their public, professional and personal lives.
Objectives of E-governance
The tactical objective of e-governance is to support and streamline governance for all parties such as government, citizens and businesses through effective use of ICTs.
E-governance evolution in India
The notion of e-governance evolved in India during the seventies with a focus on development of in house government applications in the areas of defence, economic monitoring, planning and the deployment of information technology to manage data intensive functions related to elections, census, and tax administration.
In Indian scenario, there were great efforts of the National Informatics Center (NIC) to join all the district headquarters during the eighties. In the beginning of nineties, IT technologies were improved by ICT technologies to extend its use for broader sectorial applications with policy emphasis on reaching out to rural areas and taking in greater inputs from NGOs and private sector as well.
There has been an increasing involvement of international donor agencies under the framework of e-governance for development to catalyse the expansion of e-governance laws and technologies in developing nations.
Stages of e-Governance
It is apparent in various research studies that e-Governance is fundamentally linked with the development of computer technology, networking of computers and communication systems. In developing nations such technologies and systems became available with observable time lag as compared to developed nations.
When appraising the e-governance model in India, it is established that with the liberalization of the economy from the early 1990s onwards, there has been a convergence in the availability of progressive technologies and opportunities in this field.
The inception of e-Governance proceeded through four stages in India
- Computerisation: In the first stage, with the availability of personal computers, majority of Government offices are well equipped with computers. The use of computers began with word processing, quickly followed by data processing.
- Networking: In this stage, some units of a few government organizations are connected through a hub leading to sharing of information and flow of data between different government entities.
- On-line presence: In the third stage, with increasing internet connectivity, a need was felt for maintaining a presence on the web. This resulted in maintenance of websites by government departments and other entities. Generally, these web-pages/ web-sites contained information about the organizational structure, contact details, reports and publications, objectives and vision statements of the respective government entities.
- Online interactivity: A natural significance of on-line presence was opening up of communication channels between government entities and the citizens, civil society organizations etc. The main objective of this stage was to lessen the scope of personal interface with government entities by providing downloadable Forms, Instructions, Acts, Rules.
It has been observed that there was more emphasis on automation and computerization, state governments have also endeavored to use ICT tools into connectivity, networking, setting up systems for processing information and delivering services.
At a micro level, this has ranged from IT automation in individual departments, electronic file handling and workflow systems, access to entitlements, public grievance systems, service delivery for high volume routine transactions such as payment of bills, tax dues to meeting poverty alleviation goals through the promotion of entrepreneurial models and provision of market information.
The push has varied across initiatives, with focusing on facilitating the citizen-state interface for various government services, and others focusing on bettering livelihoods. Every state government has taken the initiative to form an IT task force to outline IT policy document for the state and the citizen charters have started appearing on government websites.
Advantages of e-governance
E-Governance is improvement in governance which is enabled by the resourceful use of Information and Communications Technology.
E governance brings better access to information and excellence services for inhabitants. It also brings simplicity, efficiency and accountability in government.
Through the use of ICT to governance combined with comprehensive business process reengineering would lead to simplification of complicated processes, simplification in structures and changes in statutes and regulations.
E governance is advantageous to citizens and government as rapid growth of communications technology and its adoption in governance would support to bring government machinery to the doorsteps of the citizens.