Shock. Shock is the result of the restructuring of national, provincial and local governments using the transforming power of electronic government. (Thomas) An example is when electronic portals reveal the true number of agencies and programs involved in delivering the same or very similar services, it is thought that mergers and/or extinction of some of these redundant agencies and programmes will take place. (Webb)
According to Balutis, (2000), successful e-government strategies are based on treating government as a corporate entity and delivering top-quality services to users at competitive prices. Most local government services will soon be delivered via the Internet. (Sprecher, 2000) For e-government to be meaningful, it is essential that all local government departments are part of the e-government internet network and that public officials who use the system are given easy, efficient and inexpensive access to it.
Expanding e-government is going to be one of the biggest challenges to public management in the 21st century. At the heart of expanding e-government is the greater use and adoption of portfolio management and enterprise architecture, or public sector finance and innovation concepts representing best practices borrowed from the private sector, which will provide the foundation for e-government innovations that are taking root throughout all levels of government. (Preston 2002)
According to Ho, (2002), e-government implementations should look to private industry as a model, and as a partner, as well as a solutions provider. While dot.com start-ups have gotten the most press, the organizational, structural and process changes that traditional companies and industries have experienced have had the greatest effect on the economy. These are the so-called “clicks and mortar” companies that have embraced new Web technologies.
These new Internet-adopting companies have used the new Web integration and relationship-building technologies to create new value networks and to enable these large, complex bureaucracies to work with everyone, everywhere, on everything. In the U.S., for example, prior to implementing e-government initiatives or projects, agencies are required to submit a “business case” to OMB, which is an attempt to link organizational strategy to results.
In the U.K. government has embarked on a program of bringing the whole of Britain into the e-government fold. This includes a target date of December 2005 for full implementation of e-government in each of the council districts. Government requires that: “Through its “Implementing e-Government” strategy (IEG) statement each council will develop its own vision in accordance with its communities needs. The Government is working with local authorities and others to develop the route-map to turn this vision into a reality.”
In addition to a timeline for implementing e-government plans, financial backing is essential for it to be successful. Britain has set aside funding to aid councils in developing and implementing their plans for developing e-government services in their local communities. In practical terms in implementing e-government services, government should take advantage of existing, and proven, off-the-shelf technology products and solutions.
The strength of new Web technology is its ability to integrate in a non-linear way and support the building of relationships. Web technologies applied to e-government projects can provide new mechanisms to break down persistent barriers to interagency and intergovernmental coordination and communication. While technology alone cannot resolve fragmentation and overlapping missions, it can serve as a catalyst for meaningful change. (Steins 2002)
As can be seen governments can make their endeavour into e-government as simple or as complex as their vision, funds, and planning will allow. In some instances government may be required to develop their own software solutions when implementing e-government solutions, but they would be wise to first do an exhaustive search to see what is out there.
E-government is in many ways the future of government. It has been shown that is can produce more efficient and more intimate services to its constituents and help increase the accessibility of government. The benefits of e-governance can include reduced red tape, increased access for business and individuals, easier access for paying fees and filing forms and can enable the public opportunities for giving immediate feedback to local councils on such diverse issues as planning, resource allocation or public events.
E-government will not ease the complex issues of governance, nor is it a panacea for all that may be wrong in a community or even a nation. Problems of access will persist, particularity among segments of the population who cannot get access to Internet technology for whatever reason. This is true in western nations and is more so in so-called third world nations. The recently concluded conference on technology and the Internet held in Geneva is attempting to address the problem of the so-called digital divide.
In the U.K. and in other nations, a few local councils are examining how to provide these services to those without the means of purchasing technology. These solutions include public kiosks and ATM type stations where people can get online and access available e-government services. Ultimately e-government holds great promise in making governments more efficient and more responsive to the people they serve. How long it will take to become fully “wired” is a matter of time, money and will.