E-Government model through ICT of public service delivery was started in South Africa first time, for the preferred as channel for citizen-centered service delivery. It means to provide quality services to the citizens of its country. In this paper we will study the role of E-government within developing country in the South Africa with the help of case study.
First of all we will consider what is E-government?
E-Government (short for electronic government, also known as digital government, online government or transformational government) is a diffused neologism used to refer to the use of information and communication technology to provide and improve government services, transactions and interactions with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government.
Delivery models and activities of e-Government
The primary delivery models of e-Government can be divided into:
- Government-to-Citizen or Government-to-Customer (G2C)
- Government-to-Business (G2B)
- Government-to-Government (G2G)
- Government-to-Employees (G2E)
Within each of these interaction domains, four kinds of activities take place:
- Pushing information over the Internet, e.g. regulatory services, general holidays, public hearing schedules, issue briefs, notifications, etc.
- Two-way communications between the agency and the citizen, a business, or another government agency. In this model, users can engage in dialogue with agencies and post problems, comments, or requests to the agency.
- Conducting transactions, e.g. lodging tax returns, applying for services and grants.
These types of activities may be performed but not may be that all activities are performed by all the countries. Some have greater but some have less
Primarily purpose of introducing this model is to direct access to the Government. So improve the efficiency of public services delivery in South Africa.
This model is based on case study research, focused on one of the governments primary service delivery programmes – social grants, as mentioned in case study.
South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) was established as an extension of government delivery arm that administers the delivery of social grants to the poorest of the poor in South Africa. SASSA’s
Vision and mission is aligned with several Batho Pele principles.
Batho Pele which literally means “people first”.
Introduction of this Model
Batho Pele & Public Service Delivery in South Africa. Batho Pele is South Africa’s constitutionally mandated public service delivery philosophy. This model ensures that all the citizens can hold public servants accountable for the levels of service receive from government. The expected transformation in service delivery is better comprehended on the reflection that South Africa has only been a Democratic country since 1994.
Here we look into background of this model. The path of service delivery transformation formally began in 1995 with the release of the White Paper on the Transformation of Public Service. The WPTPS established the institutional framework that could guide the introduction of new policies and the implementation of the new constitutional mandates. It was shortly followed in 1997 by the White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery, labeled as the Batho Pele White Paper. The Batho Pele White Paper specifically aimed at promoting integrated and seamless public service delivery. This was on the basis of the Batho Pele philosophy.
Batho Pele advocates nine principles to guide public
- Consultation with citizens
- Setting service standards
- Increasing access to information
- Ensuring courtesy
- Providing information openness and
- Transparency redress and value for money.
On the other hand South Africa, through its Center of Public Service Innovation (CPSI), places significant Importance to initiatives to transform government’s way of working through ICT – a notion commonly known as E-government / e-governance.
E-Government & E-Governance
The terms e-government and e-governance are often used to describe a government’s use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to render services to its citizens. There is a debate in research community about these two terms of E-government and E-governance.
E-governance can be defined as “the use of emerging information and communication technologies to facilitate the processes of government and public administration”
E-government can be defined as “the use of Information technology to support government operations, engage citizens, and provide government services”.
In the definition of e-governance, we see that it focuses on the use of ICT to assist the administration and management of Government.
On other hand in the definition of e-government we see that it focuses on the use of ICT to provide the services in the support of government operations for the public service delivery of people of that country.
The dominant models for e-government find their roots in public management models and e-business models. While researchers of e government differ on the rights, privileges and obligations of clients, customers and Citizens. They generally concur that e-government move through stages to reach maturity. Notwithstanding, the successful initiatives are hard to come by. This realization led to the very important and underlying concern: are government ICT technological innovations adhering to the principles of ‘people first’, so to say, are the government ICT technological innovations enabling the improvement of service delivery in South Africa?
This case study also tells us about the understanding by focusing on the government agency responsibilities for one of the key service delivery programs the South African Social Security Agency, SASSA.
A case study of a government department, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), was adopted investigate the phenomenon of e-government will be studied in the context of Batho Pele. Since the each government service is measured against the same principles that are defined in Batho Pele. Applicability of this model can be drawn to other government units.
In this case study the data was collected by different ways, through structured face-to-face and telephonic interviews with people involved in delivering an ICT system to the business units of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).
Pros/Advantages/Merits of this Model
Any thing is not perfect in this universe except God. So every model is having both characteristics of merits and demerits. Similarly here we are using the E-government model which was used in South Africa for public service delivery.
We know that it is very poor country and not so developed. So many South Africans do not have direct approach to public services which are supplied by the Government as stated in the case study.
Following may be the major advantages of this model.
- Equally distribution of services
Batho Pele aims to distribute the services equally among the public. Not any differentiation on the basis of race, gender, citizen, distance etc. its mean that every one has right equally of public services
- Access to information
This model also explains that the citizen has easily access to the information about the Government performance and other activities so there may be accountability in such a manner.
- Quality services
Access to information services empowers citizens and creates value for money, quality services.
- Reduction of Unnecessary expenditure.
When there will be e-government so easily information available about every thing of government and government institution.
It reduces unnecessary expenditure for the citizens. Questions that can generally be answered during the interview can revolve around what ICT initiatives are being used to increase the accessibility of the service or product and how accessible these initiatives are to communities who don’t have the required ICT infrastructure.
- Providing information
Availability of information with regards to products and services should
Not only be at the service point, but should also strive to increase the availability of products and services to the public who are far away from those service points The main area of focus would be to increase the Availability of information to the public who are far away From service points.
ICT is used as a business support tool, and since the business of government is to deliver a public Service, ICT supports public service. The implementers of these ICT services will thus be measured against the benchmarks of how well the public service was delivered.
Thus we should have to carefully analyze the support of use of ICT within the government department or agency. This sensitivity would greatly influence the interpretation of the text collected during the interviews.
- Cost effective
It is convenient and cost-effective for businesses, and the public benefits by getting easy access to the most current information available without having to spend time, energy and money to get it.
E-government helps simplify processes and makes access to government information more easily accessible for public sector agencies and citizens.
The anticipated benefits of e-government include efficiency, improved services, better accessibility of public services, and
We see that due to use of this model transparency occurred. Due to the whole connected system through internet technology, every information is available for all.
Study approved that due to E-government, there is greater accountability on each and every thing because all the information is available to every one. So public knows the activities of government. So there is a accountability on government by public and other institutions and citizens.
Through e-government the greater citizen can participation upon political issues. They can connect themselves to politicians through internet.
This model gives the more transparent government, allowing the voters to see the effect of their representatives. What they are doing and what they are not doing in right manner.
Public can become more aware about the government activities and they can make best decision about their future.
- Speed, efficiency, and convenience
E-government allows citizens to interact with computers to achieve objectives at any time and any location, and eliminates the necessity for physical travel to government agents sitting behind desks and windows. Improved accounting and record keeping can be noted through computerization, and information and forms can be easily accessed, equaling quicker processing time. Individuals with disabilities or conditions no longer have to be mobile to be active in government and can be in the comfort of their own homes.
This model was accepted warmly, the young people who were not participating in political issues before but now they are too participating is national level issues due to e-government.
There are many considerations and potential implications of implementing and designing e-government, including disintermediation of the government and its citizens, impacts on economic, social, and political factors, vulnerability to cyber attacks, and disturbances to the status quo in these areas.
Increased contact between government and its citizens goes both ways. Once e-government begins to develop and become more sophisticated, citizens will be forced to interact electronically with the government on a larger scale. This could potentially lead to a lack of privacy for civilians as their government obtains more and more information on them. In a worse case scenario, with so much information being passed electronically between government and civilians, a totalitarian-like system could develop. When the government has easy access to countless information on its citizens, personal privacy is lost.
Although “a prodigious amount of money has been spent” on the development and implementation of e-government, some say it has yielded only a mediocre product. The outcomes and effects of trial Internet-based governments are often difficult to gauge or unsatisfactory.
- Lack of secrecy
Although internet-based governmental programs have been criticized for lack of reliable privacy policies, studies have shown that people value prosecution of offenders over personal confidentiality. Ninety percent of United States adults approve of Internet tracking systems of criminals, and fifty-seven percent are willing to forgo some of their personal internet privacy if it leads to the prosecution of criminals or terrorists.
An e-government site that provides web access and support often does not offer the “potential to reach many users including those who live in remote areas, are homebound, have low literacy levels, exist on poverty line incomes, suffer from chronic illness, and are single parents or older adults.”
- False sense of transparency and accountability
Opponents of e-government argue that online governmental transparency is dubious because it is maintained by the governments themselves. Information can be added or removed from the public eye (i.e. the Internet) with or without public notice.
For example, after the World Trade Center in New York City was attacked on September 11, 2001, United States federal officials removed a large amount of government information from its websites in the name of national security. This act went relatively unnoticed by United States citizens. To this day, very few
In conclusion we see that this E-Government model of public service delivery is very important, adopted by government of South Africa.
This model has advantages as well as disadvantages. This model has advantages of equally information provision, quality services, efficiency in public services delivery etc. but it has also some drawbacks such lack of secrecy, and so many other factors which may harmful for government through this system.
The use of e-government as a service delivery enabler will definitely support government’s service improvement philosophy of Batho Pele, thus putting people first.
Now a day’s technology has become the every thing very easier, more informative, efficiency and cost effective. Through this model of ICT can put people first, but only if the use of ICT is supported by the underlying business processes. For e government to be effective, all e-government initiatives in South Africa should be integrated. E-government will only truly be effective if it is managed from a single portfolio in government, and not from silos within each government department. Many other countries have adopted this model such as United States. But level of applying this model may vary. It means some are applying higher level and some countries are applying less level of E-Government.
In United States E-government model was used The United States Government under the Bush Administration has created a separate portfolio that manages the implementation of e-government. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is developing what it calls the “Federal Enterprise Architecture” that will manage the way in which the United States Government does business and particularly through the use of e-government (US Office of Management and Budget, 2007) slow progress in implementing a single portal for Government services.
It is clear from the case study that South Africa needs a portfolio within its government that drives the implementation of e-government.
This will include policy, legislation and implementation standards. This is where the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) also plays a role to smooth the progress of the use of ICT in Government.
It consists of three components, namely:
- ICT Programme Management
- Government Chief Operations Officer and
- E-Government Architecture and Integration.
The case study was focused on only one area of e-government within the public service of South Africa, namely the Department of Social Development and its service delivery component, the South African Social Security Agency. Similarly there is need to done this in the other departments of Government of public service delivery. Which are inefficient as compared to others? And ensure that the use of ICT is effective at all government departments. It is proposed that there is need to be studied at departments that come under the lack of service delivery similar studies should be done with Other departments to ensure that the use of ICT is effective at all government departments, such as the
- Department of Home Affairs (ID book and passport applications)
- Department of Transport (license applications and vehicle registrations)
- South African Revenue services (tax returns)
- E-Government & Public Service Delivery: Enabling ICT to put “People First” A Case Study from South Africa. By Wikus VISSER and Hossana TWINOMURINZI