E-government/E-Government and Human Development
How do ICTs facilitate good governance?Edit
ICT is an enabler of efficient and effective functioning of government. In turn, a more efficient functioning of government allows for improved and better governance.
- Box 10. Argentina’s Cristal Government Initiative: Public Funds Information on Demand19
What are the implications of equality of access to government information and services?Edit
The implementation of e-government facilitates citizen participation in governance by increasing access channels to government. It broadens opportunities for citizen participation, opening new channels of communication between constituents and their representatives and bringing marginal groups (i.e., women, physically challenged, indigenous peoples) into mainstream participatory channels.
But just as e-government initiatives have the potential to democratize the delivery of basic services and “level” the effects of development, these same initiatives can also further distance citizens from government and even deepen existing disenfranchisement. Policy-makers, in trying to achieve development goals through e-government, should consider projects that would deliver the most benefits to the broadest number of people.
What is digital democracy?Edit
Digital democracy is a term used when the use of information and communications technology enhances citizen participation in the democratic process. It is the computerization of political discourse, policy-making and the political process with the end in view of increasing, enhancing, and deepening citizen participation in the policy- and decision-making processes of government through a spectrum of activities—electoral campaigns, voting, consultation and participation in the policy process, public opinion polling, and communication exchange between elected officials and constituents.
While opportunities are increasing for citizens to be more actively involved in the policy-making and decision-making process, much of government decision-making is still hidden from the wider public. ICT integration in government processes facilitates greater openness, transparency, and accountability. As more information is given to the public, greater citizen engagement in the overall policy process is considered as necessary as greater accountability for public officials.
- Box 11. Online Assembly: Virtual March on Washington20
In what ways can e-government enhance digital democracy?Edit
Improving access to public information and services. Government carries the burden and responsibility of ensuring that citizens, communities, businesses, and civil society are equipped with complete information so that they can make timely and appropriate life decisions.
Through ICTs—broadly defined to include television, radio and telephones—the public can more easily access information and services. By providing the public with details of government activities and providing them with venues to actively participate in these activities, e-government compels officials to be more transparent and accountable for their actions and decisions, as well as to improve not only the delivery of services but also the quality of these services.
- Box 12. Access To Information And Services: Online Delivery of Land Titles in Karnataka, India21
Enhancing political participation. ICTs have made it possible for citizens around the world to be included in the policy process, to have their voices heard, to participate in the policy development process, and ultimately, to influence decision-making. ICTs have opened numerous channels of participation not usually open or available to the broader public. Many instances around the world today have shown the potential of ICTs to change society through the participation of a wide variety of people from various social and cultural backgrounds, social strata, and religious beliefs.
- Box 13. Technology and Grassroots Politics22
Engendering women empowerment. Governments must pay special attention to providing women not only with access to information technology (IT), but also with IT training and education. ICTs are particularly useful for giving voice to women in developing countries who traditionally are isolated, invisible and silent. It presents new opportunities for women to improve their lives, economically, politically and socially.
e-Government can provide marketing and promotion services for women’s businesses such as handicrafts, garments and traditional arts. Female farmers can increase their productivity and profits with access to information on improved agricultural inputs, weather, markets, new production techniques and farming technologies.23 In addition, policies that increase women’s access to credit contribute significantly to poverty alleviation.
e-Government can also be used to strengthen women’s participation in the political process, help women exercise their fundamental rights, improve the performance of elected women officials, strengthen advocacy of women’s issues, and disseminate knowledge.24 Providing channels for participation in policy-making that targets women’s concerns is a critical component of e-government.
Finally, women in developing countries want to rise above poverty, disenfranchisement and marginalization. While ICTs may not be a panacea, various e-government projects, such as health and agricultural portals, give women a chance to improve their lives.
- Box 14. Improving Service Delivery To Women Through ICT: The Women’s Services Portal in British Columbia, Canada