E-Governance implemented by the government of India allows for government transparency.
Government transparency is significant because it allows the public to be informed about what the government is working on as well as the policies they are trying to implement. It encourages accountability in all government dealings, in recent times many Indian states have come up with various e-Governance patterns to expedite smooth functioning in their daily administrative activities.
Though extreme efforts have been made to develop infrastructure and internal information handling by government officials as well as public services, the diffusion of technologies in moving towards e-governance have been slow.
There are some reasons for sluggishness
- Lack of IT Literacy and awareness regarding benefits of e-governance: There is lack of awareness regarding benefits of e-governance projects. The administrative structure is not geared for maintaining, storing and retrieving the governance information electronically. The general tendency is to obtain the data from the files as and when required instead of using Document Management and workflow technologies.
- Underutilization of existing ICT infrastructure: Second reason is that the computers in the department are used for word processing only, resulting in the underutilization of the computers in terms of their use in data mining for supporting management decisions. The time gap between the procurement of the hardware and development of the custom applications is so large that by the time application is ready for use, the hardware becomes out-dated.
- Attitude of Government Departments: Government officials have different attitude as compared to private sectors. Conventionally the government executives have derived their sustenance from the fact that they are important repositories of government data. Thus any effort to implement DMS and workflow technologies or bringing out the change in the system is met with resistance from the government servants.
- Lack of coordination between Government Department and Solution developers: Designing of any application requires a very close interaction between the government department and the agency developing the solutions. Currently, the users in govt. departments do not make efforts to design the solution architecture. Subsequently, the solution developed and implemented does not address the requirements of an e-governance project and hence does not get implemented.
- Resistance to re-engineering of departmental processes: Many experts have stated that in order to implement e-governance projects successfully, executives must make efforts in restructuring in administrative processes, redefining of administrative procedures and formats which finds the resistance in almost all the departments at all the levels. Moreover, there is lack of expertise of departmental MIS executives in exploiting data mining techniques, updating and collection of real time content onto website. Therefore the content as is collected or maintained by various e-governance portals is unreliable or full of gaps. In such a situation, it is difficult for any e-governance solution to accomplish its anticipated results.
- Lack of Infrastructure for sustaining e-governance projects on national level: In Indian scenario, Infrastructure to support e-governance initiatives does not exist within government departments. The frustrating fact is that the government departments are not prepared to be in a position to project the clear requirements nor are there any guidelines for involving private sector.
The infrastructure creation is not guided by a constant national policy, but is dependent on the needs of individual officers championing a few projects. Therefore, the required networking and communication equipment is either non-existent in government departments, or if it exists at all, it does not serve any concrete purpose as far as the requirement of e-governance project is concerned. The use of connectivity options provided by govt. agencies are used in a very limited manner for data transmission purpose between various locations.
Most state governments have established the IT task force and have their IT policies in place. Although policies may have supercilious goals, much seems to have happened only in automation and computerization. The disadvantage is that these IT policy documents are not made based upon the requirements and intrinsic capabilities of the state but are based on the surveys and strategies used by other nations or other states.
Interaction between various stakeholders
E-Governance enables interaction between different stakeholders in governance.
- G2G (Government to Government): In this interaction, Information and Communications Technology is used to reorganize the governmental processes involved in the functioning of government entities as well as to increase the flow of information and services within and between different entities.
Gregory (2007) indicated that G2G is the online communications between government organizations, departments and agencies based on a super-government database.
This kind of interaction happen horizontally such as between different government agencies as well as between different functional areas within an organisation, or vertical such as between national, provincial and local government agencies as well as between different levels within an organisation. Main intent of this interaction is to increase efficiency, performance, and output.
2. G2C (Government to Citizens): G2C maintains the relationship between government and citizens. It allows citizens to access government information and services promptly, conveniently, from everywhere, by use of multiple channels. Government-to-Citizens (G2C) model have been designed to facilitate citizen interaction with the government. In this situation, an interface is generated between the government and peoples that enables the citizens to benefit from efficient delivery of array of public services.
This expands the availability and accessibility of public services on the one hand and improves the quality of services on the other. In G2C model, clienteles have instant and convenient access to government information and services from everywhere anytime, via the use of multiple channels.
Additionally, to make certain transactions, such as certifications, paying governmental fees, and applying for benefits, the ability of G2C initiatives to overcome possible time and geographic obstacles may connect citizens who may not otherwise come into contact with one another and may in turn facilitate and increase citizen participation in government (Seifert, 2003).
3. G2B (Government to Business): In this type of interaction, e-Governance tools are used to help the business organizations that provide goods and services to seamlessly interact with the government. G2B can bring significant efficiencies to both governments and businesses. G2B include various services exchanged between government and the business sectors that include distribution of policies, memos, rules and regulations.
Business services offered include obtaining current business information, new regulations, downloading application forms, lodging taxes , renewing licenses, registering businesses, obtaining permits, and many others (Pascual, 2003). The major aim of this interaction is to cut red tape, save time, reduce operational costs and to create a more transparent business environment when dealing with the government.
4. G2E (Government to Employees): G2E denotes to the relationship between government and its employees only. The aim of this relationship is to serve employees and offer some online services such as applying online for an annual leave, checking the balance of leave, and reviewing salary payment records, among other things (Seifert, 2003).
In this case, Government is major employer and it has to interact with its employees on a regular basis. This interaction is a two-way process between the organisation and the employee. Use of ICT tools helps in making these interactions fast and efficient on the one hand and increase satisfaction levels of employees on the other.
A tentative action plan is presented to help implement the e-governance initiatives as under:
E-Governance Action Plan in India: Government officials in India have realized that e-governance is vital technology for economic progress of country in highly competitive environment. It requires an increased participation from citizens. Providing services online is no longer going to remain optional for local and central government as demand for providing services @ internet speed has been coming from the citizens.
In this period of accountability and performance measurement, government will face huge pressure to make the services more accessible to their inhabitants. The pressure comes directly from the new legislatures and govt. policies to implement high-end technologies in governing the nations; but also indirectly and perhaps more intensely from citizens.
E-governance is about more than streamlining processes and improving services. It plays major role in transforming Governments and renovating the way citizens participate in democracy.
For governments, the more overt inspiration to shift from manual processes to IT-enabled processes to increase efficiency in administration and service delivery, the will be visible to all. This change can be conceived as a valuable investment with huge returns. Some of the recent e-governance projects are implemented by various state governments.