E-Government: Assessing the impact of E-Business Technologies on Government Service Supply Chains
17th January 2018 | Ozlem Bak
How do e-government technologies affect the government, businesses, citizens and its employees? In this extract, Dr Ozlem Bak provides an introduction to e-government and the expectations behind it.
E-government refers to the public services and products rendered by the government to its citizens, employees, businesses and other governments and governmental organizations through the use of e-mediated business applications which provides digitization of services – sometimes called e-government or digital government.
Hence, e-government can be defined as 'the utilization of Information Communication Technologies (ICT), mobile technology and the Internet to provide citizens with needed services, improve public agencies performance, facilitate a successful public participation, and include citizens within a total social development process' (Abu-Shanab, 2017: 103). The adoption of information and communications technology and use of e-commerce tools in the private sector has increased the comfort level and technology acceptance level through familiarity within the e-government context. In a similar vein, it unfortunately also produced high expectations from citizens as to what public sector organizations would and should provide as public services and products.
Expectations of e-business applications has risen driven by the commercial sector in terms of the perceived levels of effectiveness and efficiency. However, in comparison to the commercial sector, the public sector beneficiaries of e-government are not its citizens alone, but also the government, whose main aim is to deliver value for money to taxpayers. This is also a result of public organizations being in direct correlation with how organizations spend taxpayers’ money on goods and services (Walker and Brammer, 2009).
For example, the Canadian 2016 budget committed to invest US$500 million to bring high-speed internet to rural and remote communities in Canada. Hence, it means that Canada is focused on investing in digital highways that carry traffic between communities – which will support e-government acceptance. Hence, it is important to achieve a level of value for money for taxpayers (The Budget Canada, 2017), however this value might include the long-term investment view which may create additional costs rather than cost savings at first.
Burn and Robins (2003: 26) observe that 'eGovernment is not just about putting forms and services online. It provides the opportunity to rethink how the government provides services and how it links them in a way that is tailored to the users’ needs'. For example, in the UK today we still observe a 'government procurement policy [which] is an uneasy mixture of different legacies, where the dominant objectives [are] cost-efficiency and value for money’ (Pickernell et al., 2011). This is despite the efforts of public purchasing to move towards more collaborative and cooperative practices (Boyne, 2002) driven by policies such as the National Procurement Strategy for local government, the Efficiency Review (Gershon, 2004) and transformational government (Cabinet Office, 2005).
The European Commission estimate cost saving of €100 billion per year if all EU public administrations used e-procurement (Davies, 2015), indicating itself not only as a source for potential cost savings but also a source of reduction for administrative burdens. Although, e-government cost savings can be achieved even at departmental levels, for example the use of online vehicle registration in Arizona in the USA has expected savings of US $1.25 million annually (Root, 2016).
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