E-Government in Digital Era – Practice and Development.
E-Governance. Information Technology (IT) is now the most talked about topic in the whole world. Information technology has its magical touch almost all the fields of natural, social and life sciences. Each and every discipline of knowledge and technology is trying it’s best to avail the highest advantage from this magical tool to enrich itself. Government and administration in different countries of the world are also under this magical spell of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
E-Government in Digital Era – Practice and Development
The use of the internet is already beginning to change the way governments operate in response to the constituent mandates, such as improvement of series, cutting of waste, streamlining existing activities and providing greater public access to information.
Concept of E-government
E-government or Electronic government means the delivery of government services and information to the public using electronic methods, such as the Wide Area Network, the Internet and mobile computing. These methods 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 benefit can be less corruption, improved transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth and / or cost reductions.
Stages of E-government
UN / ASPA global survey identified five categories to measure a country’s e-government progress. According to the identified categories, a country’s internet presence can range from emerging with a few autonomous ministry or agency websites to ‘fully integrated’ where a country provides all O“line services through a single access portal.
The categories are:
Emerging web presence –
A country may have a single or a few official national government websites that offer static information to the user and serve as public affairs tools.
Enhanced web presence –
The number of government Web Pages increases as information becomes more dynamic with users having more options for accessing information.
Interactive web presence –
A more formal exchange between the user and a government service provider takes place, is. forms can be downloaded; applications submitted online.
Transnational web presence –
Users easily access services prioritized by their needs, conduct formal transactions online, like paying taxes, registrations fees.
Fully web presence –
The complete integration of all online government services through a one-stop-shop portal.
E-government in Bangladesh
Considering this situation prevailing in Bangladesh, no one can deny that there is an IT culture in underdevelopment in Bangladesh. It is also seen that the government initiative in the IT sector is far behind than private entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, the rate of going online by different government agencies is not more than ten percent. Communications with and within the public authorities still depend on telephone and fax. There is hardly any effective electronic communications within government offices. Among the progressive authorities within the government, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) is perhaps far advanced than others. It has undertaken a program to link up customhouses through an online networking system.
Framing this situation of Bangladesh with the stages of e-government of the UN/ASPA global survey it is clear that Bangladesh is still in the first phase-emerging web presence. According to this phase, a country may have a single or a few official national government websites that offer static information to the user and serve as public affairs tools.
The long description of Bangladeshi accomplishment in the IT sector and the different types of existing problems, it is clear that Bangladesh has a lot to do to develop it’s IT sector which can ensure the advancement of Bangladesh to the next stage of E-government.
Following recommendations can be taken into account to get prepared for the next phase of e-government –
a. National IT Policy –
Bangladesh should adopt a national IT policy. Under the IT policy, there should be a 10 year or 15-year action plan to action some goals like building countrywide IT infrastructure, setting up a national database, increase the export of software by a specific number, etc.
Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) already handed over a draft National IT policy to the government but for some mysterious reasons, nothing has been done as yet although the past government has declared the IT as the thrust sector. Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), the prime body of the private sector, has already come up with a 10-year long action plan for the IT sector. Bangladesh Computer Samity, Internet Providers Association of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Software Exporters Association and in-government agency Tech-Bangla is preparing a draft IT policy of Bangladesh.
b. IT infrastructure –
To attain sustainable growth in the IT sector and to compete in the expanding global IT market, the government of Bangladesh should develop the IT infrastructure buy strengthening the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC), Ministry of Science, Information Communication & Technology and rearrange the role of BTTB. The government has to shift the role of BTTB from service providers to infrastructure providers.
First, BTI’B should complete the task of providing internet facility to all the district headquarters as soon as possible. Ongoing computerization and networking processes in all the government agencies should also he did as soon as possible. Then all government ministries division, departments, bodies and all District headquarters, Upazilla headquarters and Union headquarters should be networked to the National Data Recourse Center in the shortest possible time.
Second, All ministries, divisions, agencies of government and semi-government organizations should set up websites where all policy documents and information relevant to the public shall be portrayed and regularly updated. The government should implement widespread IT systems to provide nationwide coverage and access by any citizen to the government database and administrative systems which can be used to extend public services to the remotest corner.
Third, A special programmer should be taken to provide internet service to the educational institutions and libraries at a subsidized rate. Later those libraries can be brought under a single network so that a citizen can access any library anywhere.
Fourth, Cybercafe should be set up in all post offices, Union complex and Upazilla complex to provide and ensure public access to information These cafes, later on, can be the important spots to introduce e-government.
Fifth, the Government should also establish joint venture IT Parks, Software Park with advanced data communication facilities with cooper: ‘ ‘ an of foreign companies and non-resident Bangladeshis.
c. Development of IT professor or development of professionals following measures should be taken –
First, Drastic government actions should be taken to control the standard of IT education and training in the country. Like the University Grant Commission (UGC) and the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB). There can be a body to oversee the curricula and the courses offered by different local and foreign IT institutions. The body should try to assimilate the IT syllabuses and courses offered in the different institutions and come up with a National Integrated IT Curriculum for Bangladesh.
Second, the Government must take appropriate measures to attract meritorious students to take IT education. Different types of scholarships/fellowships/assistantships can be offered to the students. The government can offer special IT education loans for the students too. The government can encourage the private sector for this.
There should have a legal framework to protect the interest of IT professionals, private entrepreneurs, and cyber consumers either. So, the government has to come forward and establish a legal framework to provide guidelines, principles, rules, and legislation to promote e~activities.
e. IT commission I Division –
The need for an IT commission is being felt very badly. Because the IT problems are so technological that only an IT literate person can recognize the trends of needs and the demands of the IT infrastructure.
Bangladesh as a developing country with a good number of promising young people has proved its worth in the field of IT. The private sector has done more than enough to prove this sector promising. Now it all depends on the role of government. The government must decide which way to go. Towards the increase in efficiency, effectiveness, and organizational performance through the introduction of e-government or toward century-old administration through corruption, red-tapism, dissatisfaction, nepotism, the choice is governments.