E-Government services development
In continuation of our series of articles about global digital transformation and E-Government services development, this article will explain why the government in general and not each governmental institution or authorities separately should be engaged in E-Government services development. That is, local government authorities, departments and establishments should not initiate and manage the development of information systems for their needs. Let’s discuss why, and under what single condition they can do so.
Actually, the answer is simple. If we are talking about E-Government services development, it is obvious that the society, citizens (and not state authorities) are the main beneficiaries of the process. And so, the government has to be a “project manager” for E-government services development to maximise its benefits and outcomes. Let’s have a look at a couple of examples.
Example 1. Let’s assume a large state university invested some significant resources in development of its own software system. As a result, students and applicants get a possibility to interact with a university online. Applicants, for instance, can apply online now. Online applications make the process easy, there is no need to visit the university in person, and it is possible to be notified of application success or failure online.
In this given case the university simplified the job, making it digital. However, there is a problem. After these steps, even though the process is digital, the government authorities didn’t get many useful statistics, such as, for instance:
- number of applicants, total and by specialty/faculty
- admission quotas
- incomplete specialties/faculties
- applicants’ level of knowledge etc.
Surely, the university will send this data to relevant state authorities, calculating it later after the entrance process is completed. Then, officials in a ministry of education will aggregate all the data from multiple universities manually. And proceed with some conclusions and administrative decisions for the upcoming application period.
Thus, if there is a task to make universities digital, it is necessary to develop a single information system for all the universities at once. Indeed, the outcomes of such an approach will be truly useful. Not only applicants and students will be able to interact with their university online, but state authorities will get relevant, insightful data in a digital and automated way. And design and develop a single state information system is even better.
Example 2. Let’s have a look at one more example regarding the public healthcare system: a local hospital has developed an internal software system that automates the workflow. Now patients book a visit to a doctor online and doctors, therefore, enter the information in a digital database treating and consulting patients. Possibly, patients also got such advanced feature as a user profile on a hospital’s website where they can see medical history and all the prescriptions. And here is the same problem: the government authorities have no relevant information about healthcare affairs in the given hospital. No information about disease, their types, number of patients, their demography and so on. To gain this data, there is a necessity to spend additional resources on integration of some state systems and the hospital’s one. And if there are hundreds of such hospitals with their own software systems all over the country? How much will the software integration cost?
We would like to remind that society is the main beneficiary of any E-Government services development. Creation of a single E-Government system will allow government authorities to get relevant data about the state of things. And not only get data, but also make informed decisions. This means enabling a data driven approach in the decision-making process. Data driven decisions make life better – that’s why not the state authorities or government officials, but citizens, society are main beneficiaries of E-government services development.
Without digital data flow within the E-government system the process is not data driven. The process is data-driven when the information in an E-Gov system is complete, relevant and structured. If at least one establishment, be it hospital, school, university or local administration is not connected to an E-gov system, the information contained is not complete.
That’s why exactly the government and not each institution separately should be engaged in digitization. So, the government should act as a project manager for E-government service development. Step by step, specialized modules of E-gov service should be designed and developed, like Healthcare, Education, Administrative procedures, Business and taxes, Appeals and so on. In case each institution separately builds its own service, this is almost useless to the country in general – data driven approach will be enabled within the given establishment only. The state and the society gets almost nothing of its results.
Finally, under what condition can each institution build its own information system? – Only in case when it is a part of the overall state digital transformation strategy. That is when a university builds a digital service as a part of the complete E-Government system.