Monday, October 30, 2006

Focus on how ICT can benefit citizens

Shareen Han
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

23-Nov-06

THE difficulty of convincing all government agencies to break down structural barriers and work towards a common objective and purpose could be the most challenging aspect of successfully implementing e-government initiatives, speakers at a congress agreed.

Panellists in the E-Government Brunei Congress yesterday discussed that departments and ministries need to communicate by sharing information and working collectively in achieving common goals.

Michael Turner, moderator of a panel discussion on "Developing Tools and Frameworks for Successful E-Government'' said there should be a organisational culture whereby people collaborate and work together to provide more effective e-government services.

Jo Bryson, executive director of the office of e-government in Western Australia said there was a need to create a sense of urgency to use a system and mindset that "thinks across government agencies''."We have to convince senior management to take responsibility in ensuring that they practise a cross agency model,'' she said at the congress which took place at the Rizqun International Hotel.

Ten Chern Chiang, consulting manager of NCS Global Business in Australia said a mindset change is critical in preparing to implement successful e-government programmes.

"You have to be prepared to transform on whether you want to start from the bottom or take various stages to change, then you need to develop a unique e-government programme that can meet the local requirements of the country,'' he said.

A participant from the Prime Minister's Office warned that there was too much focus given to the term of e-government itself, as it may have connotations that "put off the citizens''.
"E-government may bring about connotations where people think it is about the ability to possess technical expertise, rather than how citizens can benefit from e-government,'' he said.

Jay Horton, another panel member said: "Maybe e-government needs to be made invisible to make a more meaningful impact on the citizens, to provide services that makes learning easier because citizens are more important than the technological infrastructure,'' he explained.

Jo Bryson added that she would not change the alphabet 'e', but she would substitute electronic government to enabling government.

"This will provide better interaction amongst government agencies and perhaps we need to go back to the basics in addressing what does e-government exist for, is it to protect citizens' interests and rights and how does it make it easier for the business community,'' she said.

Ten Chern Chiang responded by saying that e-government can be changed to integrated government, that brings together every institution to interact in a more efficient manner.

"Technology should be seen as a means to achieve goals in a faster way,'' he added.

Rumi Mallick, senior assistant editor of egov magazine in India asked the panellists: "How do you make all ministries to come together as one?''

Michael Turner replied that two situations will bring all ministries working towards a common goal.

One is when a crisis occurs, the other is "when a country has a strong leadership with a central vision of what you are trying to achieve''.

Ten Chern Chiang used a real life example used by Kuwait, saying that they "changed their cabinet overnight'' to unite all the ministries as one.

Jay Horton, on the other hand, responded: "With great difficulty and through practice of scenario planning.''

Earlier, Jay Horton said government leaders and executives can benefit from scenario planning for the implementation of e-government programmes.

"Scenarios can provide the framework for what works best in Brunei, as it helps us to anticipate what customers may need,'' he explained.

The two-day E-Government Brunei Congress, organised by DZ Hampton, a Singaporean-based business conference and exhibition organiser, concluded yesterday.

The Brunei Times