The objective of e-Governance is to include ICT initiatives in the existing or upcoming schemes of the government so that the citizens are involved in the decision-making process, making the system more accountable.
Every year several e-Governance projects start but most of them fail to complete. According to Gartner, more than 60% of e-governance initiatives around the world fail or fall short of their objectives
Risks Involved in the e-Governance Projects
e-Governance projects fail when the government turns a Nelson's eye to the risks and barriers that the projects face. They also fail to identify, understand, and manage these risks.
There are several reasons why e-Governance projects fail to see the light of the day.
- Objectivity in selection and defining scope of projects
Defining the scope of the project is a major issue in any e-Governance project as the people involved do not have a considerable amount of knowledge or vision of what has to be built.
- Complex enterprise architecture model and security, integration, and interoperability issues
Various systems have been developed in the e-Governance domain without any vision of convergence. These systems work in silos making it difficult for the government to integrate them into one secure and interoperable enterprise architecture model.
- Substandard government policies pertaining to project planning, funding, and unexpected transfer of stakeholders
Current government policies are inferior for the e-Governance projects majorly pertaining to the ways these projects are planned and funded. Transfer of key stakeholders in between the project hampers the leadership and dilutes the objectives and pace of progress.
- Digital divide
The digital divide is depriving the people of the benefits of government services due to lack of computer skills, inability to access information related to economic opportunities, and lack of Internet access. Bridging this digital divide goes beyond addressing race/class issues. Governments can only be successful if the digital divide is addressed and e-Governance projects reach out to every citizen on time.
- Resistance to change
The innovation diffusion theory states that over time an innovation will diffuse through the population and the rate of adoption will vary between those who adopt early—early adopters—and those who adopt much later—laggards.
The resistance to change happens when we move from a paper-based system to a Web-based system for interacting with the government. Education about the value of the new system is one step toward reducing some of the existing resistance. It can be particularly useful for a leader or a manager to buy into the new system at an early stage.
Given the high failure rates of governance initiatives, organizations need to adopt advanced technologies. Advanced technologies require a novel approach to design services and business processes, define new ways of working, develop new skills, increase the effectiveness of traditional skills, and enable a flexible way of working and implementing standard practices.
Other than the advanced technologies, organizations also need to implement strategies and best practices of e-governance and information and communication in order to bring changes in various internal systems.
Improved information management can help officials identify barriers for more efficient governance. The officials receive accurate records that provide the basis for the development of law, economic development, and accountability rules. The government can take advantage of advanced technologies to facilitate cataloging of records and flagging and retrieval of information.
The government collects vast quantities of data through everyday transactions of the citizens. As the e-government services grow in scope and popularity, the databases expand in size and detail. It is important to protect the privacy of citizens’ personal information stored on these databases while making effective use of the information contained in them. Policymakers must check with the citizens if they are ready to share sensitive personal, financial, and medical data with the government in order to utilize e-governance systems. Government websites and online services must adhere to these privacy best practices. Privacy issues must be addressed in the planning and design phase of e-government systems since it is difficult to interject privacy protections after a system is built.
Work Force Issues
A well-trained and motivated workforce is critical for the e-governance project success. Civil servants need training and leadership to integrate them into the new information structure. Higher officials can play an important role in creating a positive atmosphere of change by rewarding those who support e-governance changes.
The government must regularly evaluate the progress and effectiveness of their e-Governance investments to determine whether stated goals and objectives are met. This can be done by personal involvement and periodical reviews at frequent intervals of time.
The aim of achieving successful e-governance lies not just in digitizing the back-office operations but also in changing the way the government operates. Cooperation from government officials and staff, change in work culture and goal orientation, and concurrent changes in the existing processes are needed for a smoother transition.