Role of Knowledge Management in E-Government

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 65
Words: 20527
Reading time:
78 min
Study level: College

Abstract

Advancement of information and communication technology has enhanced the use of functionalities of the tools like internet, email and mobile phones which in turn has proved to be the best media for greater level of interaction of citizens and businesses with the local and central governments. This has also enabled the governments to ensure easy and faster provision of public services to the needy. These interactions and service delivery are collectively referred to as e-government. Using a secondary research this study presents an analytical report on the various aspects of e-government. An assessment of the e-government initiatives in Europe and a review of the implementation of e-government in the UK also form part of the study.

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Introduction

The expectations on the quality of service from the government have increased with the changes in the global economic scenario. This is known from the fact that globalization has attempted to bring reduction in the costs of doing business internationally (Ng & Li, 2003). According to Giddens, (1999) elimination of trade barriers and improving communications internationally is the crux of globalization. In order to meet this challenge, during the recent period, there are a number of governments both in the developed and developing economies, which have shifted to e-government initiatives. Information and communication technology (ICT) and internet have been found to be the drivers of globalization (Mohammed, 2003).

It is also found that e-government is the way forward to bring about the desired changes in service delivery (Mohamed & Hussin, 2003). Therefore, the progress in the direction of total e-governance is rapid and in the respective governments, departments have advanced to the stage of setting their own portals for dissemination of information to various users. However, the progress in the e-government initiatives would not yield the desired results unless the governments consider drastic improvements in the key area of knowledge management, which is very vital for information sharing among the departments internally as well as with other governments internationally.

Any lack of development in the area of knowledge management would mean the failure of the e-government to meet the information sharing needs of the community leading to low social efficiency. Knowledge management forms the basis on which all the government information resources can be managed effectively, the ways in which the users can be facilitated the retrieval of information through e-government system and the ways in which the image of the government can be enhanced. The objective of this thesis is to examine the role and importance of knowledge management (KM) in the promotion of e-government initiatives. The thesis also presents the challenges to e-governments and the ways in which KM can mitigate these challenges.

E-Government Framework

In general e-government encompasses the systematic use of information and communication technologies (ICT) by various government agencies. The use of ICT is to develop the relations of the government with citizens and businesses (Hart & Teeter, 2000; Howard, 2001; Turban et al., 2002 😉 E-Government can be defined as the

“Use of information and communications technologies by governments to enhance the range and quality of information and services provided to citizens, businesses, civil society organizations, and other government agencies in an efficient, cost-effective, and convenient manner, making government processes more transparent and accountable and strengthening democracy.” (Digital Government)

Thus, the objective of the e-government may be inferred as not just to convert the government records in to computer-based reports, but also to transform the government itself (Deloitte and Touche, 2003). Baum & Maio, (2000) identified the phases of presence, interaction, transaction and transformation in forming the e-government in any country.

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It may be noted that a successful e-government depends 20 percent on information and communication technology and the balance 80 percent on the people, processes, and organizations. Szewczak & Khosrowpour, (1996) argue that many organizations are still unable to cope up with the technological problems. The e-government is about making the government become more business-like in place of the old bureaucratic set up.

The objective of introducing e-government system is to extend the public services round the clock and make them available at all days of the year. At the time, the initiative for e-government was started; it was considered an equivalent of e-commerce without really going in to the additional advantages the e-government can provide to the welfare and wellbeing of the people. The intention later was changed to save costs and to provide better information and service to the citizens of the county which may be coded as G2C (Government to Citizens) and also from Government to Businesses (G2B). The ultimate aim was to link various governments (G2G) for exchange of information and reports, concluding transactions and data transfers.

Therefore, the e-government principles underline the importance of converting the present paper based information and systems to mechanized way of dealing. This change is expected to bring about new leadership views, novel methods of discussing the issues and arriving at decisions on new strategies for growth, improved ways of making transactions with the departments of government and providing the communities and citizens with new services and benefits.

Ultimately, citizens and businesses are expected to derive maximum benefits for the establishment of an e-government. The most important objective of e-government is to strengthen the efforts of the government directed to offer an effective governance and enhanced transparency to manage the social and economic resources of the nation for the development. Governments worldwide are pouring money into development of e-government applications. E-government applications will save time for people and prevent the need for lengthy waiting times (Kostopoulos, 2004).

E-government applications have become a major component of implementing electronic government and the main intermediate between users and the web sites due to the technological capability to provide professionals, organizations and government agencies with special routes to global events and facilitating operations. It meets the demands from citizens for better services while saving precious resources. Government agencies can save operating costs and those savings may be achieved in several categories, such as labour and supplies. Research has shown that governments can save seventy percent of their total expenditure by transferring their services online.

Significance of Knowledge Management in E-government

Knowledge has been found to have multiple perspectives (Kim & Lee, 2004). Daft, (2001) defined knowledge management as the initiatives of an organization to find, organize and make use of its intellectual capital in a systematic way. It involves a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing. Knowledge management (KM) is an essential feature of e-government, which is a virtual organization to meet the information needs of various agencies and stakeholders.

According to Junnarkar, (2000) the focus of knowledge management is on capturing, sharing and enhancing of context after evolving explicit systems in the first place. In the context of e-government the knowledge obtained from different e-government services and applications have to be found and organized in a systematic way to prevent loss of its antiquity (Reid & Bardzki, 2004). Davenport & Prusak, (1998) have stated that KM as a fluid mix of framed experiences, values, contextual information and expert insight acquired and practiced in support of the growth of any organization.

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Choi & Lee, (2003) have observed that managing knowledge has been found to be a complex task. KM in the e-government environment is a new management concept and method, which has acquired significance in the recent periods. KM plays a crucially important role in the promotion of the transformation of government functions and in the improvement of the efficiency and image of the government. The objective of practicing KM in the context of e-government is three-fold; (i) to be conducive to enhance the competence and efficiency of the government, (ii) to be conducive to enlarge the service quality of the government to the public and other agencies and (iii) to be conducive to the development of an efficient and healthy e-government (Zhou et al., 2007).

KM has acquired a prominent place in the process of e-governance of modern governments (Gupta et al., 2000) and it plays an indispensable role in shift of the government management paradigm and improving the administrative capabilities of the government. Burn & Robins, (2003) have identified that IT facilitated knowledge sharing has ensured the success of e-government project in Western Australia. Moving away from KM would result in the information resources running in isolation. This would lead to the failure of the electronic government to form an organic whole.

E-government model

With the presence of KM, the governments can build effective knowledge participation, smooth the different channels of information flow, realize knowledge sharing and promote the rapid development of e-government.

Aims and Objectives

The study has the broad aim of assessing the role and importance of knowledge management in the implementation of e-government applications. The objectives for achieving this aim are:

  1. To review the available literature to further the knowledge on e-governance in general
  2. To analyze and report on the aims and purposes of e-government
  3. To review and report on the role of knowledge management in promoting the e-government initiatives
  4. To study the effectiveness of e-governance taking the example of European Union in general and the e-government in the United Kingdom in particular.
  5. To recommend plausible means of improving the e-governance applications by employing knowledge management practices

Scope of the Study

The benefits of e-government have been emphasized largely in the literature. However, the importance of knowledge management for an effective e-government is of recent origin and hence there is little attention has been paid to the use of KM in the implementation of e-government. The current study investigates the role and importance of KM in the promotion and effective functioning of e-government. This study documents and analyzes the role of KM, in implementing e-government and assesses the obstacles with the present state of e-government applications. This will help the governments in reducing obstacles and spreading e-government applications through effective use of KM in the implementation of e-governance.

Significance of the study

E-government will easily spread to too many institutions if it has been implemented successfully. Government institutions are ideal places to implement new technological tools in an effort to provide an example for other institutions and positively affect e-government initiatives. Government institutions play an important role in any economy for the application of new technology tools. They also help to prepare a qualified workforce for the rapid development of a country’s economy.

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This research attempts to investigate the place of knowledge management in the sphere of e-government, which facilitates the speedy e-government implementation. It seeks to overcome the barriers in order to expand e-government applications through the application of knowledge management techniques and be a guide for governmental organizations in any country. The implementation of e-government is a formidable and expensive task in the developing world.

Research has shown that success of e-government projects is between twenty and forty percent. Academic research on e-government is limited. This paper attempts to explore the biggest obstacles associated with the implementation of e-government applications. This would assist the policy makers to understand the real obstacles and barriers to the implementation of e-government applications and the role and importance of knowledge management in the implementation of e-government initiatives.

This study will be beneficial because it will provide effective assessment measures of e-government obstacles. The results will be helpful for the government policy makers in responding to the challenges of e-government implementation. The findings will contribute to assisting the government to take action against these obstacles and barriers. Finally, this study can help initiate further research into the barriers of e-government implementation.

This thesis is structured to have different chapters for a cohesive presentation of the report on the study. First chapter while introducing the subject of the study, details the objectives and significance of the study. Chapter two reviews the related literature on the topic of e-governance and the role of knowledge management on e-government followed by chapter three presenting the working of e-government in the European Union and in the United Kingdom.

As a part of this chapter the thesis presents the case study on the e-government initiative of UK government (Directgov), which provides an example of the knowledge management applications in the implementation of e-governments. A brief overview of the research design and methodology adopted for conducting the research will form part of Chapter four. Chapter five contains the findings of the study and an analysis of the findings. Concluding remarks by way of a recap of the issues dealt with by the study form chapter six. This chapter also presents few recommendations for an effective e-governance.

Review of Literature

The objective of this study is to examine the basics of e-governance model together with the aims and purposes and the role and importance of knowledge management in the implementation of e-government initiatives. To achieve this objective, the literature is reviewed in the areas of

  • research on e-government and
  • research on knowledge management and the acceptance of information and communication technology in government organizations. This chapter presents the review on these two aspects under different sections.

Research on E-Government

In this section, the available literature on the basics of e-government initiatives, its aims and purposes are reviewed. It has been felt increasingly in almost all major countries of the world, that the impact of changing nature and content of business processes using the advanced information and communication technology (ICT) has forced the respective governments to think in the direction of initiating the collection and dissemination of government information and conducting the various government transactions using the ICT. There is a change in the fundamental attitude of the governments and they have started implementing web-based transactions, which clearly augments the traditional approaches to public service delivery (Hoffman, 1999; Sprecher, 2000; Symonds, 2000).

Electronic environment basing its working on the internet and other advancements in the information and communication technologies have a significant impact on the ways in which the governments are functioning (Barreyre, 1988; Hoffmann, 1999; Heeks, 1999).There is enlarged spending by both the developed and developing nations to improve upon the e-government initiatives. The efforts have started improving the potential of enhancing the extent and quality of service delivery agendas of the governments.

Building interaction on an external basis between citizens and businesses with government agencies and departments is the central focus of e-government (Heeks, 2001). It works to improve the quality of democracy by offering participation opportunities to the citizens in the political decision-making process (Lenihan, 2002). E-government functions to strengthen the democratic institutions and processes.

By including the public in the decision making process e-government enables the government to meet the needs and priorities of common man (Kolsaker & Lee-Kelly, 2008; Council of Europe, 2007). In addition, there is a complete change in the role and behavior of the citizens as well as the government due to the growth of an online public sphere and it impacts the relations between the citizens and the government agencies (Kolsaker & Lee-Kelly, 2008; Lips, 2006). This makes the concept of e-governance a pervasive one which focuses on efficient government service to all the citizens.

The e-process gets an extra level of complexity added because of the political and managerial systems within the government (Bannister, 2001). The diversity and bureaucratic nature of the organizational structure, therefore largely influences the implementation of an effective e-government.

Aims of E-Government

E-government predominantly makes use of the latest information technology for providing information freely to the citizens. The objective using the technology is to move away from the use of traditional system of administration using paper and physical offices. The sole aim of e-government is to make use of the latest available technology for enhancing the access to and delivery of government services to the benefit of citizens and business partners.

The philosophy behind e-government is the enlarged automation using computers and other latest technological equipments for replacing the existing paper-based procedures. By using the information technology there emerges the distinct possibility of better ways of transacting businesses with the government. It also enables the emergence of new styles of leadership. The e-government also enables developing new ways of listening to the voices of citizens and communities and new avenues for organizing and delivering information.

E-government aims to enhance the access of the citizens to the government services. Through the implementation of e-government initiatives the service delivery to the citizens is made faster and efficient. E-government systems enhance the transparency in the government transactions and thereby ensure effective governance. By improving the effectiveness of the governance, e-government facilitates an efficient management of the social and economic resources of the country which ultimately leads to a rapid economic development.

According to the Working Group on e-Government in the Developing World there are five different categories of goals which are being commonly pursued and to be accomplished by implementing e-government initiatives. The goals are:

Creating better business environment

Use of up to date technology helps in improving the productivity and enhancing the economic growth of any nation. This growth is increasingly felt in the rural and underserved backward communities. With the proliferation in the use of ICT in government transactions, and the setting up e-government infrastructure, a business environment which is more user-friendly is created. This streamlines the interaction between the governments and businesses, more particularly in respect of transactions relating to the small and medium sector undertakings. By simplifying the procedures involved in the registration and creation of business enterprises, the governments are able to attract new investments. Fast and efficient delivery of services by the government through e-governance will further facilitate a favourable investment climate.

One of the best examples in this connection is the Government Electronic Business Centre (GeBiz) of Singapore. The establishment of GeBiz in Singapore has apart from improving consistency in procurement practice and enlarged transparency in the transactions, acted as a stimulus for the development of a favourable climate for successful e-commerce in the country. With the web-based e-procurement systems the suppliers are able to have increased access to the tenders from the government. GeBiz has resulted in complete transparency in the transactions which enables smaller suppliers to compete effectively with larger suppliers in respect of supplies to the government.

This objective of creating a better business environment is dependent largely on the strengths of the industries and their competitive advantage in the global market. On identifying the relative strengths of the industries the government should be able to formulate appropriate strategies which align the government agencies, bureaucracy and public services to promote a better business environment. One of the initiatives in this direction is the e-procurement which can enlarge the government procurement process to the advantage of larger number of market participants and making it competitive and fair for every one.

Quicker Response from the Government

The next objective of e-government is to quicken the process of the delivery of public goods and services from the government side to those who are in need of such services. In addition to the faster response, e-government also ensures minimal direct intervention by a public official.

Enhanced Public Participation

Increased use of ICT in management and operations, apart from promoting transparency and accountability in government, is expected to provide larger opportunities for the citizens to get involved in the policy and decision making processes of the government. E-government with the increased transparency is able to fight against corruption. Even though e-government cannot by itself control corruption, when used with other controlling mechanisms, e-government could render positive assistance in restricting corruption. The main advantage in an e-government set up is that there is faster dissemination of information in complete form which provides the necessary power to the citizens for making informed decisions.

Purposes of E-Government

Establishment of a long-term organization-wide strategy aimed at improving the operations constantly to fulfill the maximum of the citizens’ needs. This is done by automating and transforming the internal operations like staffing, technology, processes and workflow management. The main purpose of e-government is to ensure an efficient and faster delivery of goods and services to all the stakeholders of the society. E-government simplifies the procedures, apart from streamlining the approval processes.

In fact these are the main advantages occurring to the citizens and businesses. By adopting e-government systems government agencies and employees are able to interact with each other more freely. Such interaction results in better coordination of the interdepartmental and inter-agency transactions and this enables the concerned authorities to have efficient decision making process.

E-government aims to server four different customers;

  1. citizens,
  2. business community,
  3. government employees, and
  4. government agencies.

“e-Government aims to make interaction with citizens, businesses, government employees, government agencies and other governments more convenient, friendly, transparent, inexpensive and effective.” In the system of e-government it is possible for an individual to make a request for any government service. The individual can receive the service through the internet or any other computerized mode. In some cases different government services are delivered through a single government office using computerized mechanism. In many of the cases the government transaction is completed without the physical presence of a government employee.

Beneficiaries of E-Government Services

E-government services are extended to four different groups of customers;

  1. from the Government to the citizens of the nations (G2C),
  2. from the government to various business entities (G2B),
  3. from the government to its employees (G2E) and
  4. from one government to several other governments (G2G).

G2C covers the dissemination of information to the pubic that are in need of government services. G2C includes basic services to citizens like issue of birth/death certificates, marriage certificates, issue and renewal of licenses, and filing of income tax and other tax returns. It also includes the provision of basic services to citizens like education, healthcare, information on healthcare and hospitals, public libraries and many other socially beneficial schemes.

G2B encompasses transactions of different types which are exchanged between government and the business community. G2B covers the dissemination of government policies, memorandums, rules and regulations. There are several other activities like, receiving current information on business related issues, downloading and submission of application forms, issue and renewal of industrial and commercial licenses, registration of businesses, obtaining industrial and commercial permits and payment of various taxes and levies to the government. The services offered under G2B are expected to substantial and tangible benefits to the business community especially to the small and medium sector entities. The development of the businesses is ensured with the simplification of the application procedures for the small and medium sectors.

In those cases where G2B is practiced at a higher level, it includes e-procurement by the government. E-procurement is an online supplier exchange programme for the purchase of goods and services by the government agencies. Government agencies operate through exclusive websites created for the purchase of their various requirements, where the suppliers can register for offering their goods and services to the respective agencies. E-procurement offers a specific advantage to smaller businesses to bid for larger government projects. It also has the additional advantage of being more transparent making

G2E includes the services rendered under G2C as well as other specialized services to the government employees. These specialized services extend to imparting of training in the areas of human resources. Such training is found to be beneficial for improving the performance of the bureaucracy which results in increased efficiency in the day-to-day operations. With the increased efficiency the government is able to provide better services to all the stakeholders.

G2G services are extended to the local and regional governments as well as to other foreign governments. The domestic level G2G services would cover the transactions between the central or national governments and the local governments. The transactions between department level and attached agencies and offices are also covered under G2G services. Since G2G services represent transactions between different governments, they enable the development of international and diplomatic relations.

A key to the success of an e-government strategy would encompass a network of open communication, a combination of sharing and listening. Such communication is expected to traverse in the horizontal as well as the vertical sections of the organization. The primary aim of establishing the open network communication is to ensure that all business processes flow smoothly around the constituents without being blocked by the bureaucratic hurdles, which need to be broken by the customers to obtain the desired service.

It is critically important that the government agencies examine in detail the reasons for consumer expectations and the ways in which such expectations could be fulfilled. Such examination can take the path of joint consultations with the customers themselves, which is clearly the democratic process. It has been observed that to identify and implement appropriate business processes is the critical factor for ensuring the successful adoption, diffusion and acceptance of e-government. It is also important for the government to communicate its policies with respect to the implementation of e-governance openly and very carefully because there is always the question of the relevance of the policies to substantiate the e-government initiatives of the government. Because of the involvement of political and organizational structures involved the field of e-government has always been made particularly complex.

The complex environment of e-government transcends both internal and external agencies largely than what the traditional competitive markets do to them. Therefore, it becomes a necessity that the business processes involved must reflect the social objectives as opposed to the mere financial criteria. This particular requirement poses a great fundamental challenge to the analysts and researchers.

Challenges to the Implementation of e-Government

The need for modernizing the governments has arisen due to the fact that the institutions and structures established over the century are unsuitable for the present day’s environment (Bentley, 2001). There are also the increased expectations of the consumers and competition from the private sector (Blumer & Coleman, 2001). The design and implementation of e-government though appear to be simple, involves a complicated process which poses a number of challenges to the government before, after and during the transition period from the traditional form to the e-government form.

The diffusion of technology into society and its subsystems is not without obstacles. Social, economic, physical and learning barriers exist in the workplaces and schools. There are many obstacles and challenges, which could prevent the realization of these anticipated benefits, since the implementation of e-government is an expensive and difficult task. This is so especially in the developing world.

The more likely organizations are to perceive an innovation as consistent with their values, beliefs, culture, and preferred work practice, the more likely they are to adopt it, assuming little or no resistance to change among the staff. The degree of resistance to change by government employees will determine how quickly a government moves through the technology implementation stages (Ciborra, 2005). Understanding the reasons for resistance to the promotion of e-government is the first essential step in mitigating the issue. Thus, e-government leaders must first understand the causes behind resistance, and identify the most likely sources of it, then devise a plan in order to overcome situations of resistance (Ronaghan, 25, 2001).

There are few other challenges that impede the faster implementation of e-governance in any country like the cost of implementation, lack of leadership and lack of awareness and technical knowledge. Some of the major challenges to the implementation of E-Government are discussed in the following sections:

Cost of e-Governance

Just like any other commercial projects or a government infrastructural project e-government can be accomplished in different phases. However, the cost of implementation is one issue that the government has to address. There are several factors involved in arriving at the cost of implementation like the availability of the current infrastructural facilities. The ability of the suppliers to meet the demands of e-government, the capabilities of the users to access and use latest technologies and the mode of service delivery are some of the other factors that determine the cost of e-government. Naturally, the government may have to incur additional costs when it wishes to use sophisticated technology and provide better services to the citizens. Certain e-government applications require considerable investment in national IT infrastructure (Rahman, 2007).

The objectives of e-government can be achieved only when the budgetary resources are made available. The most serious and significant barrier to the implementation of e-government is a lack of money; e-government implementation is expensive. Since every government budget is already overburdened with every possible expense budget makers can fit into it, the suggestion to expend the considerable sums that an excellent e-government will cost is a non-starter, in budgetary terms, and in budgetary politics.

The issue of getting the required funds is the most significant barrier to the implementation of e-government. There is the need for considerable budget resources even in cases where a government entity has devised the plans for an effective e-government environment. This is particularly true when achieving e-government for all necessary education solutions as well as technical ones (Zarkareya & Irani, 2005).

Costs, including the cost of system requirements and maintenance, investment risks, training and education, are always seen as major barriers inhibiting agencies from using the Internet. In addition to ensuring enough money for start-up costs, it is also essential to set aside adequate money for the remainder of the project and for future maintenance.

Making Wider Section of the People Using the Services

It is important that any e-government policy should be made as citizen-centered. This implies that the services should be customized keeping the end-user in mind and should be devised as demand-driven services. However, there are a number of reasons due to which a large section of the community may not use the services of the e-government. Lack of knowledge of the citizens to make use of the latest ICT tools, lack of access to the technology or the tools, absence of training and apprehension about the security of information may affect the use of e-government services by many of the citizens.

Even though the e-government provides for easier and convenient delivery of public services and innovative ways of meeting the requirements of the citizens, the benefits may not be enjoyed by the people if the government solves the issues concerning knowledge of and access to technology. Moreover, an effective e-government process requires constant input and feedback from its “customers” – the public, businesses and officials who utilize the services of e-government. Employee training at all government levels should be an integral part of the work plan. This training should also be included in the management design (Gonzalez et al, 2007).

Furthermore, the leadership and enthusiasm of individuals and organizations has driven many e-government advances (Poostchi, 2002). Moreover, governmental organizations should address how existing regulations should be clarified and explained to e-government implementers and, in turn, how they will influence the implementation of services. The application process is increasingly affected by changes in the political environment (Choudrie et al., 2005). Therefore, government needs to educate the upcoming ranks of government leaders, managers and administrators in planning and managing ICTs across all public sectors, focusing on access opportunity, economic development, and effective delivery of public information and services (Prybutok et al., 2008).

One of the main obstacles toward maximizing the potential offered by e-government is individual attitudes and organizational culture, which need to be changed; generally, the stakeholders clearly recognize that e-government is not a technical issue, but rather an organizational issue. In addition, another key issue often raised by stakeholders with regard to e-government implementation, is the need to view e-government as a change management issue rather than an IT implementation issue. Thus, the development of e-government requires fundamental changes in organizational behaviour and culture (Ronaghan, 2001).

All stakeholders who were surveyed suggested that the main challenges to be faced related to human resources, organizational culture and managing their expectations. Culture is an important factor in the adoption of new technology. By being aware of an organization’s culture, a big step should be taken towards a higher capacity to change because culture is the primary driver of strategic organizational change.

Privacy and Security of Information Issues

Security of data and information has been considered as one of the main issues in implementing effective e-government. The term ‘security’ implies the protection of data. The protection is to be offered against the accidental or intentional disclosure of the data or information. The data is deemed to be unsecured when the disclosure is made to unauthorized persons, or is subjected to unauthorized elimination or alteration. Thus, security covers the overall protection of the information systems and the control of access to data by any unauthorized persons. It is a vital component in the trust relationship between citizens and government.

Security issues may present the largest obstacle to the development of e-government services (Gilbert et al, 2004). Thus, security policies and standards that meet citizen expectations are an important step toward addressing these concerns because many studies have found that security is one of the most important obstacles. In fact, information security is a costly but necessary part of e-government, and involves not only the protection of data, but also the integrity of the software and hardware, training and oversight of personnel and service continuity, the latter being essential to the availability and delivery of services, as well as establishing citizen confidence and trust (Hesson & Al-Ameed, 2007).

While security will remain an obstacle to e-government, it will not significantly affect its progress as the public learns to work with and accept its occasional lapses. In addition, three key issues affect the success of security. The first involves continuous improvement and upgrades in an attempt to stay ahead of criminals. The second is that security is visible and foreboding which will help to deter would be criminals.

Finally, it must be accepted that no security system is perfect and that all can eventually be overcome. However, governmental organizations, being responsible for the collection, maintenance, and distribution of sensitive or confidential information, should consider methods of providing security for collected information as well as for their websites. It is important to have a national level security mechanism. This mechanism should be able to deal with the cyber crimes and frauds.

Then it becomes easier to win the confidence of the citizens and businesses in their dealings with the government. Thus, there should be a pool of security professionals who can take care of threats and breaches to the security. In addition, for enhanced security of data, there is the need for specifying the authority who can allow access and to develop and put in place an infrastructure encryption system on a priority basis.

Privacy is a major issue in the implementation of e-government in both mature and developing democracies. Concerns about website tracking, information sharing, and the disclosure or mishandling of private information are universal. There is also the concern that e-government will monitor citizens and invade their privacy. Privacy refers to the guarantee of an appropriate level of protection regarding information attributed to an individual. 63% of e-government users report using government websites generally to find information such as an office address or a list of services provided by an agency, whereas only 23% log on to conduct a transaction.

Thus, e-government should be approached with an eye toward the protection of individual privacy. The privacy issues in implementing effective e-government can be tackled by obtaining technical as well as policy responses from the government. Governments have a responsibility to protect people’s privacy or the public may lose confidence in e-government (Shouaeeb, 1997).

The difficulty of protecting individual privacy can be an important barrier to e-government implementation. In addition, there is a need to deal effectively with privacy issues in e-networks in order to increase citizen confidence in the use of e-government services. The effectiveness of e-government applications depend largely on the confidence of the citizens which can be ensured by the careful handling of any personal information provided to the government agencies. In developing countries, many people are so concerned with privacy and confidentiality issues they decide to forego e-government opportunities. However, the increased focus on security may lead to less interest in the protection of citizens’ privacy.

Government has an obligation to ensure citizens’ rights regarding privacy, processing and collecting personal data for legitimate purposes only. Layne & Lee, (2001) consider privacy and confidentiality as critical obstacles toward the realization of e-government. Citizens are deeply concerned with the privacy of their life and confidentiality of the personal data they are providing as part of obtaining government services. Thus, they pointed out that privacy and confidentiality must remain priorities when establishing and maintaining websites (Lam, 2005).

The protection of the privacy of the information of the citizens and the provision of assurance to them that there will be adequate security to their personal information is critical to e-government. A successful e-government strategy requires effective security controls in government processes and systems in order to address the frequently cited barriers of privacy and security (Moon, 2002). In fact, the government should provide enough guarantee that the protection and privacy to their information will not be compromised under any circumstances. This is important since it is the key to user trust. Unless this assurance is provided to the citizens, no one would be taking the initiative to use e-government services.

Therefore, it is essential to thoroughly re-evaluate the overall mission of the jurisdiction and then design a digital structure that creates a government-citizen interface that simplifies and streamlines each transaction individually, and the entire process of government administration (Roadmap for E-Government, 2002).

Lack of Political Leadership

Lack of political leadership is probably the main cause for most undertakings being abandoned while incomplete, or turning out to be far less successful than expected. Government leadership is required to foster an environment of privacy protection and security. Like any government reform effort, political support will be necessary for the implementation of an e-government project because without continuous active political leadership, the financial resources, inter-agency coordination, policy changes and human effort needed for the planning and implementation of e-government will not be sustained.

Leadership in technological policy and strategy is increasingly found at the level of the chief executive officer (governor, mayor, president, premier, etc) and from elected legislators. Generally, a good first step to demonstrate government leadership is public proclamations of support for e-government and ICT for development. Evidence that government and policy leaders are being educated and trained in order to utilize technology for the betterment of society is another indicator, potentially more important over the longer term, of government leadership in support of technology (Ronaghan, 2001).

Good leadership of e-government initiatives is essential in order to ensure support and resources and to motivate staff. Thus, strong political leadership at all levels can create the conditions for the successful implementation of e-government. This leadership can serve as a catalyst for action and for promoting a shared vision. However, the highest-ranking levels of civil service, though they are provided with the most critical aspects of leadership, can become a large obstacle in the implementation process.

Lack of Proper Regulatory and Public Policy Environment

E-government requires a regulatory and public policy environment that is conducive to the protection of rights, and an enabling legal framework for the digital transformation of government operations. Policy agendas include issues such as cyber law, privacy, security, universal access, credit card transactions, digital signatures, consumer protection, international trade, and telecommunications. A government must follow adoption of high-level e-government and ICT policies with the development of comprehensive regulatory and legal frameworks that directly support ICT for development in order to succeed with e-government initiatives because the processes are highly dependent on a government’s role in ensuring a proper regulatory and legal framework for their operations.

The success of e-government applications requires the trust of citizens in order to flourish. Despite awareness of the benefits and conveniences to be gained from e-government, citizens still may have concerns regarding privacy and security, so governments must work hard to earn citizens’ trust. In fact, government regulatory activity can either encourage or discourage technology adoption. An effective legal framework, with the capacity to identify and address legal obstacles to e-government, gives a government the opportunity to keep pace with the new era of global communications and efficiently provides people with valuable services.

Then, government should enact legislation dealing with e-identification and authentication in order to ensure uniformity in paper and e-processes, keeping in mind that the increasing demand for new legislation may actually be a sign of a necessity to clarify and better diffuse existing regulations to avoid duplication and unnecessary regulation. Although increased administrative efficiency and advancement in e-government initiatives have been made possible by technological progress, chief among the challenges facing government institutions are technical aspects of privacy and security, the need to adjust to rapid technological change and the lack of standards and internal integration (Choudrie et al, 2005).

Cultural Factors

The main barriers to the implementation of e-government are not technical, but cultural implications of new technologies (Feng, 2003). Personal characteristics and subjective conditions are more likely to be influenced by cultural factors than are the objective conditions surrounding the development and diffusion of new technology. Cultural norms and individual behaviour patterns play a role in how citizens and policy makers use technology (West, 2001).

Because culture plays a significant role in an individual’s outlook, many people resist change and adopt new technologies slowly and with great deliberation. Culture can hinder the use and implementation of information systems, due to differences in how systems are interpreted and understood. Furthermore improving working relationships between internal departments and external agencies and adopting a corporate approach are major factors in successful e-government.

To achieve this, it was felt that major cultural changes are necessary. In order to accommodate the internal cultural changes necessary, organizational development must be included in the application process so that internal cultural changes are accommodated. Both structural and cultural changes are covered by the technical enhancements. These cultural changes, though not as easily tangible, must receive at least as much planning so that technical change is implemented successfully (O’Looney, 2002).

Lack of Knowledge and Awareness

Society’s lack of awareness about e-government is a critical difficulty. In addition, the lack of knowledge and experience with a technology is a potential barrier that is especially relevant in the context of emerging economies.

The ability to use computers and the Internet has become a crucial success factor in e-government implementation, and the lack of such skills may lead to marginalization or even social exclusion (UNPA & ASPA, 2001). Those who do not have access to the Internet will be unable to benefit from online services (OECD, 2003). Thus, digital divide is “the gap between those with access to computers and the internet and those without” (Blau, 2002). In the case of the digital divide, there will be no uniform and equal access to the ICT tools like internet to all the sections of the community. This may be due to several reasons like lack of financial resources, absence of skills, or any other reasons. In fact, computer literacy is required for people to be able to take advantage of e-government applications (Shouaeeb, 1997).

Governments should train their employees and citizens in basic skills of dealing with the computer and Internet in order that they can participate in e-government development applications. It is the view of some of the policymakers that the digital divide is not a major issue in the implementation of e-government. According to them those citizens who do not possess household Internet access can get it from the local library or the community technology centre to access the government services. Making computers available in public locations, such as grocery stores, post offices, libraries, and shopping malls, may help in addressing the gap between those households that have access to the Internet and data services and those who do not.

Technological Issues

According to ITU findings, the developed world is home to 80% of the 500 million Internet users worldwide; two out of every five people in developed countries are online. In developing countries, however, only one person in 50 has access to the Internet, even though some applications and benefits of the information society are already becoming evident (Rao, 2003). However, since online information sources necessitate a certain level of cognitive ability or Internet literacy, the digital divide cannot be completely bridged through general physical access to computer technology alone (Kelley & James, 2003).

In fact, lack of knowledge and experience with technology is a potential barrier; for instance, this is especially relevant to developing economies like Saudi Arabia (Al-Zamias, 2001). Furthermore, people in rural areas and inner city neighbourhoods may have less Internet access as compared to others, while those who have never used computers may simply be reluctant to use the new technology (NECCC, 2000). In addition, disabled people have very limited access, because the universal statistics indicate that some form of disability access (i.e. access for persons with disabilities) is available on only 2% of government websites (West, 2001).

Therefore, governments should pursue policies to improve access to online services for people with disabilities. Since many advantages of online government information and services are unavailable offline, inaction will lead to the exclusion of those who lack access. Sometimes, language is considered one of the barriers that prevent participation in e-government applications even for citizens.

Stages in E-government

In quantifying e-government development progress, government strategic planning has devised certain levels or stages, which take into account the content and deliverable services available through official websites to represent the government’s level of development. Having characterized e-government development as a linear progression, some service providers move through some stages before achieving the stated programme objectives. Most researchers and authors specified four stages of e-government development while a few list five or six stages with various names.

Many municipal governments are still in the early stages of development, stage either one or two of e-government, which involves simply posting and disseminating government information over the Web or providing online channels for two-way communication, particularly for public service requests. The study of 190 nations showed that none of the surveyed nations had achieved integration. It also showed only 17 had achieved the transaction stage, and most developing nations were at either the emergence or the broadcast stage. However, there is no specific number of stages of e-government since it varies from one researcher to another.

Due to a number of factors based on technology, society, organization, economy, and politics, the e-government initiatives may not provide the intended benefits to the citizens fully. This leads to the division of e-government projects into the four stages of evolution namely presence, interaction, transaction and transformation. Each successive stage represents an augmented capability to provide information and services such as interactive transactions online (E-G-K, 2002).

Within the presence stage, the critical task of building infrastructure, such as telecommunications channels, would be undertaken. In this stage, the website has basic governmental information such as downloadable information and forms. It involves the creation of a government web-portal in order to publicize government services and general information, such as consisting of a website that lists essential information on the agency. These sites would convey the government’s initiative, providing information such as business hours, addresses, lists of contact persons and phone numbers. As the most basic level of entry for e-government, this is easy and cheap to implement (Li, 2005).

At the interaction stage, necessary information and e-forms can be filed either electronically or by hand (after printing) and then sent by mail. This helps citizens avoid a trip to government offices. Database searches and e-mail communication capabilities can be used at this stage, by the organization, to provide broad and dynamic information to citizens. This includes the ability to introduce various interactive services that enable citizens to access government websites and fill out various online forms. In addition, based on a simple request of the user, simple and easily comprehensible data and information are provided. These data and information can be accessed in relatively easier way because of the simplicity of the e-government resources designed to meet the needs of common man.

At the transaction stage, the government conducts online transactions, while financial and legal services are offered, so that citizens can complete entire transactions with government entities. Thus, services should be available for the public such as bill and fine payments and license renewals. This stage also requires that the security standards of the e-government infrastructure be improved; an objective achieved using e-signatures and certificates. This stage is more complex and more expensive to implement (Fang, 2002).

The transformation stage would strive to achieve the true vision of e-government. Thus, a dynamic transition takes place in which new technologies allow the use of information on an interdepartmental level in order to provide new types of services. It should also see a significant change in management culture and responsibility within government. At this stage, technical, fiscal and administrative constraints are the most difficult to implement (Fountain, 2001).

This has a major impact on the organization of current governmental agencies by transforming the existing structures, laws and procedures. Information communication technologies (ICTs) are fully integrated among the government agencies and businesses. This enables eligible users to access the information and services based on their exact requirements and obtain the services delivered without any strings attached. It is the sole objective of e-government to provide equal access to government information and services without any distinction in the status or any other considerations.

Knowledge Management and E-Governance

According to Wiig, (1997) knowledge management (KM) is expected to enable the enterprise to realize the maximum value of its knowledge assets. In order to meet this objective it is essential that knowledge be created, transformed and finally the knowledge needs to be disseminated and shared among the users (Smith, 2001). Hansen et al., (1999) remark the concept of knowledge management is nothing new.

Knowledge Management can be defined to include the process of leveraging of knowledge with a view to attain the objectives of productivity and competitiveness of a national economy. KM at the level of a government involves the leveraging of knowledge

  • for improving internal processes,
  • for formulating sound government policies and programs for an efficient service delivery to ensure increased productivity.

KM for e-government includes the management of knowledge for any e-government to streamline the operations for an efficient service delivery to enhance the quality of public service to the citizens and the society as a whole. It can be seen in many instances that the government has been the principal user of knowledge and this is the case from a longer time down the history. The main function of any government is to involve itself in an effective decision-making process and the implementation of e-government supports the decision making process efficiently.

Usually any government has a large repository of information and databases which are being used in its decision making process and it is the purpose of e-government to help in the process of an effective utilization of such information and data for better governance. It is quite possible for the government to have access to all the latest available technology and the success of e-government depends on the effective utilization of these technological aids. Use of KM enables the government in making use of the available technology to disseminate the information to cater to varying public needs.

KM has a positive influence on the implementation of the e-government initiatives. Knowledge management is relatively a new concept, the development of which can be largely linked to the developments in the field of ICT. Knowledge management as a concept arose from a well-researched “initiative for managing knowledge assets” undertaken by a consortium of US corporations in the year 1989 combining their efforts to manage knowledge acquired by them.

Since then the subject has expanded in many directions and is being connected with e-government implementations. Literature on KM focuses mainly on the ways in which organizations and institutions strive to implement ways of accumulating the knowledge of employees in the electronic databases so as to make them the repositories of knowledge. The objective is to draw from such accumulated knowledge for use by those who are in need of them. In order to examine the role of KM, it is therefore necessary to study the proliferation of ICT from the perspective of KM. Therefore, KM assumes a significant position in the implementation of e-government initiatives.

Objectives of Knowledge Management

KM has a multi faceted approach in enhancing the utility of E governance. In general KM in an e government setting has the following objectives.

  1. Improving the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of public policies and services for citizens and the society in general
  2. Promoting transparency in public management. This should provide the citizens with access to the information from the government and the ability to participate in and influence political-administrative decisions regarding;
    1. the incentive to create culture, among government leaders regarding the importance and utility of knowledge in public management,
    2. developing a culture of collaboration among different governmental areas. This culture should create the ability to share the knowledge between the government and the society.
    3. creating the incentive to develop cognitive competence among the public servants. KM should enable a pragmatic and attitudinal approach of the public servants, government employees and officials with an orientation towards knowledge sharing and creation of additional knowledge in the respective areas and
    4. disseminating the results and benefits implementing KM with respect to its application in e-government.

Directives for Knowledge Management

In order to achieve the broad objectives of KM in its application to e-governance, it is important that the KM initiatives follow certain directives. The government should promote encouragement and support among public organizations in planning and executing the KM initiatives. There should be raising awareness among the government employees and public officials about the strategic use of Km in different government departments and organizations.

There should be adequate training to endow the officials with competencies involving, professional knowledge, skills, attitudes and values for a proper planning and execution of KM activities. Above all the government should be able to measure the results and benefits of the use of KM in the realm of e-governance and to promote the broad dissemination of actions, results and benefits of KM with respect to the implementation of e-government. It is also critically important that the government create and support activities that would promote the development of a culture of knowledge sharing within the government organizations.

Technology Acceptance and E-Government

Literature on information and communication systems is abundant with studies that have examined the technology acceptance within an organization. Technology acceptance becomes the base for the development of KM in the organization. Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (Davis et al 1989), Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) (Azjen and Fishbein, 1980), and United Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) (Venkatesh et al, 2003) and other models developed in this realm have studied the factors that influence the intentions of an individual to use or the actual use of information technology.

There have been some studies conducted recently which have examined the TAM in e-government. When the governments start adopting ICT for the collection and dissemination of information and in the delivery of their other services, the question of privacy and security of information becomes prominent and critical too. The recent study by Smith and Jameson (2006) has identified training, management support, budget/cost /resources and awareness as the key drivers for Information System Security (ISS) and Business Continuity Planning (BCP).

Gilbert et al (2004) have analyzed the reasons for the citizens to prefer the electronic delivery of government services to the traditional means. The study identified less time, cost and avoidance of personal interaction as the enablers of positive attitude. Experience, information quality, low stress, trust and visual appeal were some of the factors that characterize negative attitudes.

Role of Information and Communication Technologies

(Solow, 1987) anticipated as early as two centuries ago the proliferation of the computers and their significant role in improving the productivity in all areas. There are now evidences which are persuasive to prove the important role played by information and communication technology (ICT) which has led to significant improvements in the productivity of government and private firms in the economies throughout the world (Hughes & Morton, 2005). (Corsi et al., 2006) observe with the existence of a large share of public sector in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the European nations, the efficiency of public administration has been the key driver for promoting the international competitiveness and economic welfare of these nations.

According to Corsi et al., (2006) the e-government has the chance to enlarge the GDP growth through the growth of productivity in public sector, growth in the total public sector output, enhanced efficiency of public administration and the increase of aggregate demand. Improvement in the efficiency of public administration contributes to the efficiency of the economy as a whole and to more specifically the productivity of the private sector. According to Wimmer, (2002) KM in the e-government environment is to be viewed from different perspectives including the process involved, needs and requirements of the users, technology used, organizations involved, knowledge base of the participants, cultural and political values of the society.

ICT has an important role to play to aid the implementation of e-government initiatives from all these perspectives, especially in the context of the availability of the latest technologies and the expectations of the people for an efficient and fast delivery of service. Conceptual models of Delone & McLean, (2003); Sheddon & Kiew, (1996) and Sherman, (1997) have demonstrated the use of information systems in successful knowledge management. Any e-government initiative therefore cannot ignore the important role of ICT in the extension of efficient service to the public. Thus the responsibility for transition in the governing bodies is undertaken by the information systems (IS) function.

The purpose of the information systems function is to deploy resources for organizational tasks and processes and to align the technology with the organizational strategy and goals (Laudon & Laudon, 2000). A large amount of literature focuses on establishing the relationship between IS function and the organizational efficiency (Brown & Magill, 1994). In the existing literature computers and communication functions have been regarded as utility functions (Dixon & John, 1989) and the literature have documented the management of the use of technology This relationship has been considered essential in understanding the role of IS in knowledge management.

Lack of awareness on the use and interaction with web based applications make the study of customer relationship management in the e-government environment important (Nah et al., 2002). The role of e-government portals and the importance of KM in e-government implementation have been dealt with several research works (Harman & Brelade, 2001; Zahavora & Zelmene, 2004). Research in this area also cover the KM strategies that could be implemented for public sector organizations and the technological support required for making use of these strategies (Misra et al., 2003; Heck & Rogger, 2004).

The structure and organization of the KM portals and the effectiveness of service delivery using the portals are described in the literature (Daniel & Ward, 2006; Everisto & Kim, 2005). The customer relationship process in the application of KM to e-government has been analyzed by Gebert et al., (2002) and the authors found the knowledge for customers, knowledge about the customers and knowledge from customers as the essential processes in the flow of KM. Peng & Chen, (2005) have found these processes as relevant for the e-government initiatives.

Web portals are the mode selected by many of the governments as the right business model for e-government initiatives (Yong & Koon, 2003). Dias, (2001) observe that a corporate portal has a decision supportive role and the portals act as the mechanism for collaborative processing. E-Government portals can offer a variety of services to the citizens concerning the dissemination of information (Tambouris & Wimmer, 2005).

Internet is the most popular medium used for implementing e-government. Schwartz et al., (2000) have identified acquisition, organization and distribution as the three essential components of internet based KM. However Tiwana, (2000) introduced a new internet model for g-government comprising of knowledge dissemination, acquisition and sharing. Goh et al., (2008) have developed a new K-ACT internet model for use in the e-governement implementation. This model consists of knowledege access, creation and transfer. Knowledge access includes the support for searching, browsing and other forms of information delivery (Davies et al., 2005).

Search covers the query service which provides for full-text search, advanced search and suggestions to guide the users to look for information in other websites (Lau & Goh, 2006; Nielsen, 2000). Personalization is another aspect of this model to enable customization of portal content and creation of user accounts (Jasco, 1999; (Renekar & Buntzen, 2000). According to Bardzki & Reid, (2004) knowledge creation is a continuous process of gathering customer information. Knowledge creation enables the organization to prepare a customer profile to provide support to organizational communication (Rowley, 2004).

Knowledge transfer involves dissemination of information to those people who might need the information for various uses (Williamson & Beghtol, 2003). Wagner, (2005) identifies online collaboration as one of the important dimension of knowledge transfer. Cure have pointed out that the knowledge can be stored in places like existing database, processes including the work processes, people having information to provide and pieces distributed among several persons (Curely & Barbara, 2001).

Misra, (2006) has identified the role of knowledge worker for the accelerated economic development of an emerging nation like India. The popular types of knowledge management which aid the knowledge workers for implementing e-government initiatives are intranets, data warehouses, decision support tools and groupware (Ruggles, 1998; Hislop, 2005).

E-Government in Europe

As observed earlier, e-government is about using the tools and systems of ICT to ensure that citizens and businesses are provided with better public service. In order to have an effective e-government system, the procedures and systems need to be reengineered. There should be a change in the behaviour of the participants to ensure a timely and effective service delivery to the needy society. Therefore practice of e-governance involves much more than the use of ICT tools and systems. The major advantage resulting from e-government formation is the cost effective and efficient dealings of the citizens and businesses of their transactions with the government. This requires a proper and effective implementation of the e-government.

E-Government Initiatives in Europe

In the European Union (EU) because of the interconnection among all the member countries, there is an internal market established which necessitates the free movement of people for both work and private reasons. Therefore it involves people dealing with the public services in their own as well as outside their countries more frequently. If the e-government initiatives are to be implemented then it becomes crucially important that the different government bodies both within a country and in different EU member countries share information more efficiently for ensuring greater co-operation. The European Commission addressed the issue of e-government and its Lisbon Summit in the year 2000 provided for the introduction of e-government with focus on online-government, easy access to government information, decision-making and services online (Official European Union Website, 2000).

The main policy of EU in the area of e-government is the “e-government Action Plan” which concentrates on five focal points. They are:

  • inclusive e-government,
  • efficiency and effectiveness,
  • high impact services,
  • key enablers and
  • e-participation.

EU is focusing on these five key areas to implement an effective e-government mechanism so that the citizens of all the EU member countries are provided with the benefits of e-governance.

Inclusive E-Government

While national, regional and local governments along with their agencies and other intermediaries, which are responsible for delivering public services, have started increasingly using the ICTs into their processes, there is a potential danger that people who do not possess easy access to ICT might find it harder to deal with the governments and their agencies. The objective of e-government in reducing the complexities involved in the dealings of citizens and businesses with government is likely to be affected by the non-availability of access to ICTs for some section of the people.

Under an inclusive e-government, the interests of all the stakeholders with respect to their service needs are taken into account to provide an equal access of public services to all concerned. ‘Digital divide’ has disabled more than 30% of the population of Europe from using the e-government services. Digital divide means the gap between those people who have regular and effective access to ICT and those who do not have such easy access. It is to be noted that unfortunately, most of these people represent the section of the people who are mostly dependent on government support for their living.

For instance, citizens who are eligible to receive unemployment benefits or pensioners are the sections of the people who are more likely to lack access to any ICT than other sections of the people. It is of paramount importance therefore that the governments take initiatives to bridge this divide by ensuring an inclusive digital society which enables all sections of the people to have easy access to the e-government applications. The point here is that the implementation of e-government initiatives should not be at the expense of the citizens and businesses not having access to ICTs. In this context it is mostly smaller companies are in majority which does not use ICTs in the course of running their businesses.

They lack the chance of completing the tax computations online which prevents them from receiving the rebates quickly. These businesses depend on the services of professional accountants for completing the tax declarations on their behalf. Tax authorities under e-government may consider the provision of a facility for such small businesses to do their own accounting and make the declarations on line which will prove advantageous to these businesses. There are several initiatives undertaken by EU to bring an inclusive e-government into reality by pursuing the five main objectives of EU’s action plan. The particular initiative to provide for an inclusive e-government is termed as ‘no citizen left behind’.

Behind the development of this objective are the efforts of EU in making use of ICTs to enable governments to provide better services to different sections of the community. Most importantly, sections of people like elderly, disabled, unemployed and the citizens with poor educational capabilities are the ones who are benefited most from e-government. There are options to either use the ICTs directly by these sections of the community or through intermediaries who provide assistance to them. Use of parallel channels is one other means under the active consideration of the EU to promote an inclusive e-government. All the member countries have committed to the EU that by the year 2010, the nations would make all citizens including disadvantaged groups as the major beneficiaries of e-government.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Use of up to date technology would significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness with which the public services are provided to the citizens and businesses. EU has already taken positive steps in the direction of using new and improved technology. This has lead to improvements in several areas like settlement of insurance claims reducing the red tape and increasing the satisfaction of the people who are in need of the services. The strategies formulated by the EU include a two-pronged approach. Promotion of the cooperation and exchange of best practices is the first approach. Secondly establishment of technical standards through benchmarking and impact assessment of services is also adopted as one of the strategies.

EU is embarking on an ‘ICT Policy Support Program’ aimed to aid the promotion of e-government through development of several pilot projects. These pilot projects aim at

  • developing specifications so that the concerned electronic documents have common codification making them recognizable by different agencies. This also facilitates the authentication and processing of documents faster.
  • demonstrating that improved methods would aid delivery of e-government services to sections of people and groups of businesses who are not currently using these services,
  • creating a common structure for the delivery of all social assistance services which are hitherto provided by different government agencies.

This will ensure that the citizens who rely on these services would get a better service.

“Good eGovernment services also help Member States achieve fundamental political objectives, such as improving social inclusion and building a more competitive enterprise sector. Companies, especially SMEs, devote considerable resources to administration – regular tax declarations, managing the social security status of their employees, or applying for permits to carry out their business. When eGovernment enables them to reduce such costs, they can focus on their core activities and generate stronger economic returns for the business and its workforce.”

High Impact Services

EU is concentrating on the development of transnational government services as such services are expected to provide the benefits of e-government to millions of European people and businesses. In order to solicit greater stakeholder commitment EU is focusing on using the key enablers like electronic identification and interoperability. The development of such flagship services or pilot projects which benefit the citizens could be extended to benefit a large number of citizens across the EU.

Greater use of transnational government services is another distinct benefit gained from the e-government. Examples of high impact cross-border services include services which facilitate greater mobility of citizens in search of employment across EU. The focus on flagship services also provides greater access to employments opportunities, social security benefits, pension and education. Travel among different European countries is made easier. In respect of businesses registration of the company using electronic medium and awarding VAT rebates are handled by the high impact flagship services. ‘One Stop Gov’ is an example of a high impact pilot project.

This project serves to unify disparate e-government services into one seamless service process. Provision of certificates on birth and death, issue of marriage certificates, issue and renewal of driving licenses are covered by the project. This project covers life events such as birth, death, marriages, getting and renewing driving licenses. ‘Use-me Gov’ is another project which extends a sophisticated service that enables any local authority to deliver services to mobile telephones.

Key Enablers

Key enablers are the bondage which integrates the e-government activities. In promoting the e-government initiatives, it becomes necessary that the government agencies coordinate the development of their e-government services. The agencies have also to agree on basic principles concerning e-government implementation. Interoperability of systems becomes fundamental to ensure the use of transnational services by different users.

There is also the need that the electronic identities (eIDs) are recognized in all member nations. With this recognition the eIDs would be able to replace traditional paper ID cards. This objective aims at helping the databases and administrators use the available ICTs effectively. During the time the public administrators and government agencies introduce and use more and more complex ICT systems. For the e-government to be effective it is necessary that these systems work in an integrated fashion. One of the major problems in this context is the interoperability of the systems. While the operations of some of the systems can be integrated, interoperability cannot be attempted in some other cases. A number of organizational, technical and language barriers affect the compatibility among the different systems.

In the case of European Union, the Interoperability Framework attempts to address communication breakdowns and inconsistencies between services, departments, regions and EU countries to make the e-government services interoperable. The development of different software applications for use in the system is facilitated by the adoption of Open Source Software (OSS) embedded with the open program and the process of codification. With the changes in the user needs, there is the possibility that the software can be updated and adapted. Since the licenses for the use of OSS are less restrictive the agencies can install more number of machines at cheaper cost. This enables the staff to work more efficiently.

E-Participation

In the European context there is a higher expectation among the citizens, with respect to the quality and efficiency with which the public services are delivered. They also expect to have increased access to the public institutions and departments. The demand for public services and information from the citizens for customizing their needs and they expect such information to be available at the click of a mouse. In order to achieve this, there need to be improvements brought about in the ways of delivering the services. This necessitates a higher rate of participation from the ordinary people in the decision-making process.

E-Participation is about making the ordinary citizens reconnected with politics and policy-making. It also aims at making the process of decision-making easier to understand and follow by common people. New information and communication technologies being used by the governments and the agencies enable the common citizens to have better access to the decision-making process. Public consultations for providing avenues for participation of the citizens in the policy formulation are one of the major objectives of e-government initiatives of EU. EU is taking consistent efforts in this direction.

The ICT systems adopted by the governments provide different types of tools giving the citizens easier access to information concerning the decisions affecting their living. The ICT systems encompassed in e-government improves the communication among the politicians and the government agencies. It enables efficient interaction between the citizens and the government. EU member countries therefore have supported e-participation as one of the five priorities of e-government Action Plan.

Under this plan of action, the aim is to equip the member countries to have the necessary tools for effective public debate and participation in the decision-making process. There are a number of research projects funded by the EU for putting into use effective ICT for improving the governance. These projects are also expected to help in policy modeling including the development of cross-agency collaboration.

E-Government Initiatives in the UK

The United Nations e-Government Survey, 2008 reports on the comparative performance of the 192 member states with respect to their respective performance in meeting the service needs of citizens and businesses under e-government initiatives. The countries have been assessed based on their ability to respond to the ever-pressing demands of different stakeholders for improvement in the delivery of government services.

The application of ICTs by the member countries formed part of the evaluation criteria of the UN. The purpose for which the ICT is being put to use by the countries in furthering the objective of better delivery and access of services to citizens, improvements in the interaction with the citizens and businesses, and the empowerment of the citizens through seamless access to information for better decision-making are some of the other aspects considered by the survey in ranking the member countries. According to the survey England has been ranked at the 10th place in the top 35 countries as of the year 2008.

In 1996 the first e-government initiative was launched by the UK Government, at which time the government announced that all services will be electronic by 2005 (CabinetOffice, 2000). The digital-era governance in the UK included the aspects of reintegration in the form of

  1. rolling back of agencification, in-sourcing and shared services,
  2. needs-based holism with the provision of one-stop services, client-based organization, end-to-end service reengineering and
  3. digitization changes with the agencies floating their own websites, electronic services delivery, utility computing and customer segmentation.

UK government has taken the initiatives to effectively implement the e-government. The activities of the government render complete support the efforts of the local governments in implementing the e-government. This section presents an overview of the operations of e-government in the UK.

E-Government in the UK – an Overview

E-Government initiatives in the UK aimed at the national and local government to deliver all government services electronically by December 2005. The country has witnessed substantial progress in this area with e-government targets extending to almost 54 specific services. It has to be accepted that the central and local government have worked towards meeting the challenge. The government has been successful in achieving e-government implementations.

The government has launched ‘Directgov’ in April 2004, which is a comprehensive information portal providing complete information on the various national and local government services being provided under e-government. Presently this website gets a hit rate of about 6 million each month. More than one million people are visiting the portal every month for a number of purposes.

The number of people who posted their income tax return stood at 1.6 million for the year which accounts for an annual increase of more than 50% over the last year. There was an increase of 400% in the number of companies submitting corporation tax during the same period. There has been consistent increase in many of other online central government services. E-government innovations and the provisions of more information to the public have also been accelerated through the introduction of statutes like Freedom of Information Act. The introduction of this legislation and better information management strategies on the part of the public sector have led to the availability of more government information online.

On the part of local governments in the UK, these governments enjoy greater degree of autonomy, and are keen in providing more services online. Because of the varying size, state of organization and priorities among the local authorities, the central government has been following a strategic approach in supporting the e-government initiatives of the local governments, rather than providing mandatory requirements for implementation of e-government initiatives and applications.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) is the ministry responsible for overseeing the functioning of the local governments. ODPM has funded about 22 National Projects carried out by small groups of local authorities. The objective of the funding is to ensure that all local authorities are provided with the opportunity of getting access to the best practices and toolkits of e-government.

Some of the National Projects are Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Mobile Working, Working with Business, Online Planning, E-Procurement and Multi-agency Information Sharing. National Projects aim at providing the best practices, enabling cost effective service delivery in more standardized way. For instance, National Project on E-Procurement has enabled the UK local authorities to save a minimum of 2.5% of Euro 59 billion they spend on their annual purchase of goods and services. The Project is able to achieve this by providing the best toolkits and an efficient knowledge base.

More than 450 local authorities in the UK have been allowed to move towards providing effective e-governance. However, forming of partnerships among groups of local authorities has been considered as vital in order to make the provision of services to the citizens more efficient. Such kinds of partnerships are expected to enable the local authorities effective information sharing and in protecting the vulnerable clients.

Citizens in more than 25% of local authorities have the opportunity of posting their planning applications online. In addition they can pay their local taxes and arrive at the benefits due to them online. A recent study by the University of Zaragoza reported that six out of the top ten cities prominent in extending e-government facilities are from the UK. The government has embarked on instituting innovative strategies for social inclusion with a view to bring more use of information technology by a larger section of the community. The government makes it possible by providing free computer facilities to the citizens and guiding them on the use of online facilities.

Directgov

In the United Kingdom, backed by the fact of more than 66% of citizens going online presently (InternetWorldStatsNews, 2007) the need to modernize the channel through which the government services need to interact with the citizens and businesses was felt by the government. The solution arrived at by the government was to invest in an effective ‘e-government’. In the initial stages the government faced the challenge of several failing UK projects initiated with considerable financial investments.

For instance the government faced a tough time in streamlining the computerization of the Passport Office which resulted in additional delays in providing services to the citizens and a cost of £ 40 million spent without tangible improvements. Similarly a number of projects within the Inland Revenue Service also failed costing the government almost £ 1.4 billion as overruns.

Considering the disparate need to improve the situation, the Labour Government then in power launched the internet portal ‘Directgov’. Directgov was to replace the then existing citizens’ portal called ‘UK Online”. Directgov is considered as “the place to turn for the latest and widest range of public service information” (Galindo, 2005). The objective of instituting Directgov was to introduce the users to several administrative, legal, regulatory and social services and functions which are being carried out now in the common portal of Directgov through internet presently.

Following the Bangemann Report (Bangemann, 1994), the focus of e-government was centering round enabling a better and cheaper government, by placing the administrative services online so that the cost of delivering such services is reduced and at the same time the services are delivered faster and more efficiently (Moose & Whitely, 2008). The EU Action Plan on e-government states “e-government is the use of information & communication technologies (ICTs) to make public administrations more efficient and effective, promoting growth by cutting red tape” (Europe’sInformationSociety, n.d.). With the intention of making Directgov as the dominant method of citizen-government interaction, the UK government embarked on the introduction of the portal.

Directgov is the primary digital service provide by the UK government as a part of the e-governance. This service is delivered through the ‘Directgov’ website and digital television. Through this portal citizens and businesses can access a wide range of government information and services online. In this website, users have the facility to browse by different topics and areas like ‘Disabled people and Carers’ ‘Parents’ ‘Employment’ ‘Learning’ and ‘Motoring and Transport’.

The users can also access specific government directories. Alternatively they can use the search engines to draw the desired information. Services like booking a driving test, payment of taxes, renewal of passport, information on child security, special educational needs and lot of other information can be obtained through this website. There is specialized information available on specific customer groups like English people residing abroad and people aged above 50.

The website is being reviewed and expanded from time to time to include additional and latest information pertaining to the subject. In addition to the government departments, the site provides link to external agencies which will be able to provide trusted advice and support to the needy. According to a recent research report published by Directgov, out of 75.8 million websites comprising of more than 6 billion pages, more than 50% of the internet using Britons regularly visit just six or less sites instead of surfing the whole net.

It can be stated that the UK government has been successful in providing availability and access of information to the citizens through Directgov website. Almost all the public services of the UK government have been made available on Directgov (Pinter, 2004). This is ensured through the maintenance of over 900 websites of central government. As mentioned earlier, applying a driving license, filing a tax return, or claiming social security benefits have been made possible online by accessing Directgov. Directgov acts as the single channel linking all the central government websites.

It provides the convenience of accessing one point of service for the citizens. E-inclusion of the website is also commendable in that the site has made sure that it is made reasonably inclusive of the society at large without catering only to large groups of people either intentionally or by overt marginalizing. The additional advantage of Directgov is that the site is available via digital television and mobile phone, thus making the services virtually reach every citizen who is in need of the government services or information and would like to access it. Directgov is split to have five different sections

  1. home,
  2. directories,
  3. guide to government,
  4. do it online, and
  5. newsroom.
Home

Information on topics like tax, education, employment and crime are included in the section ‘Home’. This section provides different options which are laid clearly and are made easy to use by the intended user. Information is also provided for specific customer segments like, disabled people, over 50’s, parent and young people.

Directories

Directories incorporate the web pages of all departments and agencies in the public sector. However, Directgov portal has to be used in the same way as other general search engines. This necessitates the user to have prior experience of using the search engines so that he/she can access any specific web page pertaining to any department or agency. Many of the government portals are equipped with internal search engines that are powerful. However these search engines do not provide any additional benefits to the users. These engines have the same features of the general free-to-user search engines like Google or Yahoo!

This makes it particularly difficult for Directgov to connect the user directly to any of the 900 public sector websites. This also makes the use of Directgov little bit difficult for the first time user of the government portals for drawing information or obtaining any service online. This is a shortcoming of Directgov which needs the attention of the government for improving the functioning of e-government.

Guide to the Government

While ‘Guide to the Government’ provides information about the government in clear and simple terms, ‘Newsroom’ keeps the citizens up to date with the news on the activities of the public sector. However these websites do not provide the necessary interaction between the citizen and the information contained in the websites. As a consequence ‘Directgov’ uses the website to just provide information to the citizens without any chance for the citizens to react on the information.

Do it Online

This section attempts to enable the citizens to carry out their transactions with the government agencies and departments online through internet or any other viable mode. This section has been included by the government to show the efficiency of the public sector and to prove that it is as efficient as the private sector (Pinter, 2004). For instance this section enables a person to apply for license under ‘Motoring Online’. Since this process is fast and easy for the citizens it goes to prove the advantages of e-government to the citizens and the businesses. It eliminates the process of filling out and sending physical forms and waiting for the license to arrive which is time consuming and sometimes frustrating too. However, there are certain transactions which cannot be carried out faster through ‘Directgov’.

For instance under the head ‘Money, Taxes and Benefits’ in order to get a tax refund one has to print out and post to the HM Revenue and Customs Department and wait for approximately four weeks to get a reply. This entails additional cost and time for the claimants to print the form instead of collecting it from the Department. Therefore the process is slow, not better than the traditional process of collecting the refund and is not of the same standard as that of the e-commerce services being offered by private businesses.

Research Methodology

Introduction

Social science research follows several research methods to collect information and data relating to the issue under study. Ontology and epistemology enables the formation of the basic framework for many of the social research methods. The term ontology covers a distinct branch of philosophy which deals with the nature and structure of the world. (Wand & Weber, 1993). Ontology thus is concerned with the things which are present in the real world. The ontological questions always try to find the form and nature of worldly reality and the things that need to be known about the real things in the world.

On the other hand, epistemology talks about the nature of human knowledge and understanding (Hireschheim et al., 1995). This philosophy advocates that such knowledge and understanding can be acquired by employing various types of inquiry and alternative methods of investigation (Hireschheim et al., 1995). Both ontological and epistemological issues become interrelated in the sense the epistemology is concerned about the ways in which the human actors would act to inquire and acquire knowledge on things, which really exist in the world, which is the domain of ontology. The epistemological questions define and explore the nature of relationship between the inquirer and would-be inquirer and the ways in which different things can be known.

According to Guba & Lincoln, (1994) the inquiry paradigms can be considered in ontological, epistemological and methodological questions. The research methods generally follow

  1. experimental,
  2. correlation,
  3. natural observation,
  4. survey and
  5. case study methods.

The researcher must evolve a suitable research design specifying the research method the researcher intends to follow for completing the study. In choosing the particular research method to be followed, the researcher has to take into account a number of factors like the subject matter under study, research and theoretical interests of the researcher, constraints of time and resources and funding issues. The major classification of the research methods takes the form of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

In the current study, the focus is on the effectiveness of the implementation of e-government initiatives and the role of knowledge management in such implementation. More specifically this study attempts to evaluate the role of KM in promoting the effectiveness of the e-government initiatives and the resultant efficiency in the delivery of public service. During the process of this evaluation, the research will also extend to analyzing the need and importance of information and communication technology in the adoption of KM for improving the productivity of the private and public sector through embarking on e-governance. For this purpose, the study has taken up the case study of e-government functioning in the UK to lend theoretical support to the research question.

Research Design

For any research in the realm of social science, research design provides the bondage that keeps the research project together (Webcenter for Research Methods, n.d.). A research design is adopted for enabling the research to have a specific structure. The research design describes the way in which the major parts of the research project have to function for accomplishing the research objective.

The research design may take the form of a randomized or true experiment, quasi experiment or non-experiment (Webcenter for Research Methods, n.d.). The internal validity of this research design is enhanced with the classification into three different groups. In general, the randomized experimental basis is the strongest for establishing a cause and effect relationship. The randomized true experiment research design is the fundamental research design for completing this study.

Quantitative Research

The basis of quantitative research methods are the natural sciences when they are used to deal with natural phenomena. Survey method, laboratory experiments, econometrics and mathematical modeling represent the major techniques of conducting quantitative research. According to White (2000), the quantitative research method consists of investigative process that leads to research conclusions expressed in numerical values. The numerical values represent the findings of the study and they are subjected to statistical analysis for presenting the results of the study. Quantitative research is rooted on positivism supporting measurements made in researches considered attaining precision and exactness (White 2000). A quantitative research is said to be well conducted when objectivity in the treatment of results and the process used to generate the results is attained (Cavana et al., 2001).

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research methods enable the researcher to have an in-depth knowledge of the social and cultural aspects of the society. Conducting qualitative research depends on other techniques like action research, case study, and ethnography. Creswell (1994) defines qualitative research as a process of enquiry that involves the understanding any problem connected with the social or human behavior. The qualitative research process according to Creswell, (1994) is based on the views and perceptions of various informants being the participants to the study that are expressed in a natural setting.

Filed observation and participant observation, structured and semi structured interviews, focus groups and questionnaires, documents and texts are some of the sources from which data and information can be collected and these data supplement the qualitative research methods. The data may also be provided by the impressions and reactions of the researcher himself/herself. Byrne, (2001) believes that defining qualitative research using a single definition is not at all practical because the term qualitative itself a broad term. In addition, inferential statistics that is usually applied to data that are generated from quantitative researches is not used for qualitative research.

Case Study

Case study has been recognized as a significant research methodology. “Case study is an ideal methodology when a holistic, in-depth investigation is needed” (Feagin et al., 1991). Various investigations particularly in sociological studies have used the case study as a prominent research method to gather pertinent knowledge about the subjects studied. When the case study procedure is followed, the researcher will naturally be following the methods, which were well developed and tested for any kind of investigation. “Whether the study is experimental or quasi-experimental, the data collection and analysis methods are known to hide some details” (Stake, 1995).

However, by the use of case studies the researcher would be able to draw multiple viewpoints as the case studies are based on different sources of data. The selection of the cases is of crucial importance so that the maximum information can be gathered for completion of the study within the time available. Case study of the e-government implementation in the UK forms part of this report.

Research Methodology

The methodology process of this study entails the collection, organization and integration of the collected data. Data collection will be the most important step in the success of this paper since it will lead to viable and credible findings. This study will be based on a qualitative study on the evaluation of the role of knowledge management in the implementation of e-government. The primary data and information collected by engaging the methods of interviews and/or questionnaires will represent the first hand experience of the participants. Therefore this research considered using the survey method.

The subject matter of study as such can invariably be supported by primary data collected through the qualitative research method of case study. The researcher considered a quantitative method of survey, since the samples would be having the opportunity to express their views more freely and decisively. There is the likelihood of enhancement in the validity and reliability of the findings from the study. Further, since the topic of e-government, being a subjective one where the perceptions and view points of the population is of paramount importance, it was considered better to have the viewpoints from the public collected through a questionnaire would add value to the findings.

Research Process

In order to collect the required information and data for conducting the study it was necessary to conduct the survey through a survey questionnaire distributed to a certain number of people involved and having knowledge on the e-government procedures. A sample of 200 people at working at various government departments were chosen as respondents for the questionnaire Out of the 200 samples, chosen only 161 of them returned the questionnaire duly filled in.

The questionnaires were sent to the samples through their email ids with a covering note explaining the background and the purpose of the survey. The sampling method that was used for this research is the random selection of public sector employees. The distribution of samples is of paramount importance, as the sample should represent the total population. Therefore, the researcher took maximum care in the selection of the samples for the survey.

Construction of the Research Instrument

The research instrument (as exhibited in Appendix 1) took the form of a questionnaire; containing four parts. The questions have been framed to meet the intelligence and knowledge levels of the samples being surveyed as well as to ascertain their perceptions and view points on e-government initiatives. The questions constructed were broader in perspective, with questions on the general idea on e-government principles and knowledge management as well as their application to e-governance. The questions also focused on the practicality of the application of KM to the implementation and success of e-government.

Questions on the demographic details like age, gender, income level are laid out in Part A of the questionnaire. The demographic information is required to analyze the homogeneity of the samples. Part II of the questionnaire contained questions on the barriers in the implementation of the e-governance initiatives and the perceptions of the samples on the role of KM on improving the efficiency of e-governance. The questions were close-ended questions providing the chance to the employees to rate the answers on a Likert scale. Questions on the specific context of KM were included in part IV of the questionnaire. The samples selected were clearly advised the purpose of the survey and they were also assured that the information they provide will be kept confidential and that only summary of the data and information will be reported.

Summary

This chapter presents a descriptive account of the research design, research process and the data collection techniques followed for completing this research. The chapter also contained a discussion on the survey method followed for gathering the information and data from the chosen samples. Next chapter presents a discussion analyzing the findings from the research.

Findings and Analysis

This chapter presents the results of the survey followed by a detailed discussion on the findings of the survey. The data and information collected are analyzed using statistical methods and are presented in the form of graphs and tables. The findings are compared with the results of the past research reviewed in the related literature.

Introduction

Based on the purpose of the study, a quantitative research design was used as a descriptive study. A descriptive study was conducted to explain all the variables since descriptive research is a necessary first step to ensure that an accurate description of the phenomenon exists prior to change interventions. To obtain the required data needed to address the research questions posed in this study, a questionnaire was sent to 300 different individuals working in IT departments of public and private sector organizations. Responses were received from 180 individuals resulting in a response rate of 60%. Considering the subject matter of the study this response rate can be considered as good. The responses received were tabulated and analyzed for presentation in a proper format.

Findings

This study assessed the challenges and barriers to the implementation of e-government as well as the role of knowledge management in the e-government initiatives. As gathered from the review of the literature a list of various barriers to e-government was presented to the respondents to identify the significance of the individual barriers in their perception. The results of the survey has been statistically analyzed and presented in this chapter along with a detailed analysis of the finding.

Demographic Details

The following table presents the information on the demographic structure of the respondents.

Table: Demographic Information of the Respondents.

Gender Number Percent
Male 149 82.8%
Female 31 17.2%
Age Number Percent
Less than 25 years 8 4.4%
25 – 30 years 22 12.2%
31-35 years 72 40.0%
36-40 years 53 29.4%
41-45 years 20 11.1%
46-50 years 5 2.8 %
Monthly Income Number Percent
Less than $ 5000 10 5.6 %
$ 5001-$ 10000 42 23.3%
$ 10001- $ 15000 96 53.3%
$ 15001 – $ 20000 30 16.7%
Above $ 20000 2 1.1 %

Findings on Awareness of E-Government Access to Internet

Table: Results of Awareness of E-Governance.

Have Access to the internet Number Percent
Yes 159 88.4%
No 21 11.6 %
Have a personal computer at home Number Percent
Yes 169 93.8%
No 11 6.2%
Have internet services in office Number Percent
Yes 180 100.0%
No 0 0%
Prefer to have e-government in place Number Percent
Yes 171 95.0%
No 9 5.0%
Have a computer in office Number Percent
Yes 180 100.0%
No 0 0%
Have knowledge of e-government Number Percent
Yes 172 95.6 %
No 8 4.4 %
Have internet services at home Number Percent
Yes 147 81.6 %
No 33 18.4 %

Analysis of Demographic Details

The percentage of males and females in the sample population imply that more proportion of males have taken part in the survey while the questionnaire was sent to 200 males and 100 females to get responses. Out of 200 males 149 returned the questionnaire and 31 out of 100 females responded to the survey. This shows the lack of keenness among the women in the concept of e-government. This also shows the cultural issued involved, which has been one of the hindrances in the implementation of e-government applications as identified by the literature. Among issues shaping the adoption and absorption of technology, important ones include tradition, religion, historical habits and personal aspirations for a new life. However being the participation of women in e-governance, remains still a question mark in the country.

A majority of 40% of the sample population belong to the age group of 31 to 35 years. The percentages of other age groups represent the homogeneity of the samples and people in all age groups have participated in the survey which enhances the validity of the results. However, age group of 31-35 years constitutes the important age group in the implementation of e-government. This fact has been reflected in the survey clearly. Nevertheless, knowledge of the internet and its application to the e-government in different age groups is definitely a pre-requisite for the implementation of the e-government applications in the country.

More than half of the participants in the survey are earning $ 10001 – $ 15000 indicating that the proportion of high incomes is a majority among the respondents. The income level of the citizens is an important factor in the implementation of e-government programs, as with higher income level people get the required ICT facilities for interacting with the government in addition to the knowledge on e-government and its implementation. The low-income level of the citizens is also an obstacle in the implementation of e-government. If the cost of getting internet services at home is prohibitive it will affect the inclination of the people to go in for using the e-government facilities.

Analysis of Awareness of E-Governance and Access to Internet

More than two thirds of the samples (n=159, 88.3%) have easy access to the Internet, and this shows the information revolution and technological developments. With the proliferation of the internet service providers in the country, people are able to have unlimited access to the internet.

This enhances the access to the e-government applications and enables the individuals to obtain government services faster. The higher the availability of opportunities for getting easy access to the internet, the higher is the chances for easy implementation of g-governance. The increased availability of internet services also entails additional financial burden to the government. As observed by (Rahman, 2007), the costs to the government will escalate when it wants to provide more sophisticated and complicated kinds of service. Certain e-government applications require considerable investment in national IT infrastructure.

It is observed from the results that almost 93% of the people have computers at home. This implies that a very large proportion of the people, have the knowledge of the computer operations in the society. This is due to the increased awareness among the people about the advances in the information and communication technology and the curriculum in schools of education about the computer and internet, which will facilitate the promotion of e-government initiatives by the government.

The proliferation of various software developments which help high-speed access to internet and connected applications go to increase the utility of e-government among the citizens. The continuous upgrading of the software tools and applications enable the advancement of ICT and the consequent usage of e-government initiatives. The success of any ambitious programs of the government towards propagating e-governance depends largely on the free availability of free and ample internet facilities to the citizens.

All the samples have responded that they have the Internet at work, which clearly shows the availability of Internet service at the required level at the institutions and the workplace, which will eventually lead to increased use of e-government facilities by the organizations. This situation will also result in the faster customization of the e-government initiatives. Literature observes that the ability to use computers and the Internet has become a crucial success factor in e-government implementation, and the lack of such skills may lead to marginalization or even social exclusion (UNPA & ASPA, 2001). Those who do not have access to the Internet will be unable to benefit from online services (OECD, 2003). Thus, digital divide is “the gap between those with access to computers and the internet and those without” (Blau, 2002).

95% of respondents (171 persons) prefer to have the existence of e-government in the workplace. This is understandable from the point of view that it would give them some sort of comfort and flexibility in their work. Perhaps some want to take advantage of the implementation of e-government, as a benefit to the person or his family.

All the respondents have computers at work, which can be considered as a favorable situation to the implementation of e-government. Majority of the respondents preferred the application of e-government at work, which demonstrates the desire of them to use the computer for easier and more productive work.

A large proportion of respondents (172, 95.6%) are aware of the implementation of e-government programs, which demonstrates the knowledge of members of the community information. Adequate knowledge of the actual situation of e-government would speed up the implementation process. This implies that every employee who has knowledge of Information Technology has the knowledge of e-Governance, because the e-Government Program has been sufficiently explained to him by the superiors, as it is their responsibility to explain to their staff.

More than 80% of the samples (147, 81.60%) have Internet service at home. This implies that a large percentage has kept pace with modern progress.

Analysis of Findings in respect of Barriers to E-Government

Analysis of other findings in respect of barriers to the promotion of e-government initiatives is presented in this section. The first set of findings indicates that there is a strong relationship between the government policies and the restraints in the implementation of e-government institutions. Table below shows the viewpoints of the respondents in which they agree that lack of support from the political leadership is one of the important barriers affecting the implementation of e-government

The samples are of the view that there are adequate individual legal rights for getting the e-government services and there are appropriate laws to protect the internet usage. Therefore these aspects do not hinder the progress of e-governance. From the viewpoints of the respondents it may be observed that there is the need for a strong support from the political leadership for the faster implementation of e-government which corresponds with the review of the literature.

Table: Political Barriers.

Barrier
Group
Barrier strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly
Agree
Political a. Inadequate individual legal right. 136 24 12 8 0
b. Lack of support from political leadership. 0 12 16 24 128
c. Lack of appropriate laws to govern Internet usage. 131 24 15 10 0

In respect of the financial barriers the viewpoint of the samples are decisive in pointing out the high cost of telecommunication or internet services has not been a significant barrier in expanding the e-government services to the community. Table below indicates the relative position taken by the respondents to the survey in respect of the financial barriers.

Table: Financial Barriers.

Barrier
Group
Barrier strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly
Agree
Financial a. Limited budgets for spending on IT 4 9 12 20 135
b. High price of IT 12 16 28 10 114
c. High cost of telecommunication/Internet services 112 14 10 7 37

The participants are of the view that the limited budgets of the government for IT spending and the high cost of IT infrastructural facilities might affect the implementation of e-government. Therefore this research shows the significant relationship between the financial constraints and the implementation of the e-government systems and procedures.

Table: Technological Barriers.

Barrier
Group
Barrier strongly disagree Disagree neutral Agree Strongly
Agree
Technological a. Inadequate software programs to run e-government 9 5 14 42 110
b. Insufficient support for internet devices 7 21 24 14 114
c. Lack of on-line verification/authentication of users 145 14 10 7 4
d. Computer usage is not widely spread among the population people 23 29 7 12 109
e. Limited postal services to support e-government 146 20 5 9 0
f. Weak IT infrastructures 151 19 3 5 2
g. Lack of e-payment infrastructure 0 18 8 24 130
h. Inadequate phone lines 7 19 13 0 141
i. Difficulties in keeping up with current. 141 29 10 0 0
j. Inadequate network security 137 22 8 8 5
k. Weakness of telecommunication infrastructure 141 17 12 8 2
l. Inadequate software programs to run e-government 5 133 17 14 11

From the table above it can be observed that the respondents to the survey are of the opinion that there are inadequate software programs to run e-government, insufficient support for internet devices, computer usage is not widely spread among the population people, lack of e-payment infrastructure, and inadequate phone lines will impact the implementation of e-Government adversely.

It can also be observed from the responses of the samples as depicted by the table, that lack of on-line verification/authentication of users, limited postal services to support e-government, weak IT infrastructures, difficulties in keeping up with current, inadequate network security, and weakness of telecommunication infrastructure do not have any impact on the implementation of e-government and therefore these factors do not act as a barrier to the extension of e-government services to the citizens. On an overall analysis it can be stated that the technological barriers do not have any significant impact on the implementation of e-government initiatives.

In the matter of organizational barriers a number of different factors were presented to the respondents to the survey for giving their opinion about their impact on the implementation of e-government systems. The samples were of the view that factors like lack of advisory committees or task forces to implement e-government projects, lack of support from upper management, little collaboration among governmental agencies, and lack of clear vision about e-government project affect the implementation of e-government.

However, factors like lack of dissemination programs to promote e-government benefits and advantages, lack of cooperation between public and private sector in IT, complexity of current administrative procedures, lack of strategic planning, Weak current administrative systems, lack of reengineering of procedures and operations, lack of central authority at the country level for e-government applications, inadequacy of qualified personnel for e-government applications, and staff resistance to change do not affect in the implementation of e-government.

Table: Organizational Barriers.

Barrier
Group
Barrier strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Agree
Organizational a. Lack of dissemination programs to promote e-government benefits and advantages 121 25 14 10 10
b. Lack of cooperation between public and private sector in IT 147 11 14 4 4
c. Lack of advisory committees or task forces to implement e-government projects 25 14 110 17 14
d. Complexity of current administrative procedures 123 29 7 11 10
e. Lack of support from upper management 26 20 45 9 80
f. Lack of strategic planning 151 19 3 5 2
g. Weak current administrative systems 126 18 8 24 4
h. Little collaboration among governmental agencies 7 19 113 0 41
i. Lack of reengineering of procedures and operations 131 29 20 0 0
j. Lack of central authority at the country level for e-government applications 147 12 8 8 5
k. Lack of clear vision about e-government project 31 27 72 28 22
l. Inadequacy of qualified personnel for e-government applications 121 23 17 0 19
m. Staff resistance to change 120 23 24 13 0

From the observations on the organizational barriers, it can be stated that there is no statistically significant relationship between the current regulatory procedures and the organizational systems and constraints in the implementation of e-government institutions in the country. The organizational issues have a strong influence on the implementation of e-government mechanisms in the country.

Table: Social Infrastructural Barriers.

Barrier
Group
Barrier strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Agree
Social Infrastructural a. Lack of society’s awareness about e-government advantages and benefits 21 45 14 40 60
b. Low levels of literacy among citizens 47 33 34 14 82
c. Lack of trust in e-dealings 95 14 40 17 14
d. Technology usage conflicts with cultural habits 13 23 17 81 46
e. Lack of computer literacy among citizens 0 10 15 29 126
f. Technology usage conflicts with religious tenets 0 4 13 5 158
g. Lack of Internet access among various sections of population 126 18 8 24 4
h. Lack of necessary skills for e-government applications 17 12 113 10 28
i. Dependence of Internet usage on the English language 131 19 30 0 0
j. Low level of citizen income 14 12 8 6 140
k. Uncertainties about the benefits of the use of new. 131 7 22 8 12

The respondents to the survey have expressed the viewpoint that lack of society’s awareness about e-government advantages and benefits, lack of trust in e-dealing, lack of Internet access among various sections of population, dependence of Internet usage on the English language, and uncertainties about the benefits of the use of new system affect the implementation of e-government.

The samples have expressed the opinion that low levels of literacy among citizens, technology usage conflicts with cultural habits, lack of computer literacy among citizens, technology usage conflicts with religious tenets, lack of necessary skills for e-government applications, and low level of citizen income do not affect in the implementation of e-government. On an overall analysis, there is significant relationship between the current social infrastructure and barriers in the implementation of e-government systems in the country.

Observations on Knowledge Management and E-government

The observations of the respondents to the survey on the role and impact of knowledge management on the e-government applications is represented by the following table.

Barrier
Group
Barrier strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
Agree
Knowledge Management a. Knowledge Management is at the root of the success of e-government setup 0 0 30 4 146
b. Know-how, technical skill requirements or problem solving methods are well coded in the e-government applications 17 23 94 4 42
c. Knowledge can be acquired easily through the existing formal documents and manuals 75 14 50 27 14
d. Advises from the experts can be obtained on the current e-government applications 13 3 37 71 56
e. On an overall assessment Knowledge sharing and management enhances the effectiveness of e-government 0 20 35 29 96

From the table it can be observed while a majority of the respondents observe that there is a significant role for knowledge management in the implementation of e-government. The samples are divided on their views on the capabilities of the e-government applications in solving the routine problems in connection with the technical skills required and the know-how attached to the e-government applications. The opinions are also divided on the fact that knowledge can be acquired easily through the existing documents governing e-government applications. A majority of the respondents however agree that the overall effectiveness can be improved through knowledge sharing and management.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Conclusion

Governments in most of the countries around the world have understood the benefits of using latest ICT for improving the management of the public sector and for providing efficient services to the citizens and businesses alike. They are also aware of the role of e-government in nurturing the relationships with the internal and external stakeholders. Many of the states seek to further this potential to reap additional benefits in the areas of service delivery, efficiency of the government departments and agencies and transparency in the government dealings.

In order to ensure a better functioning of the e-governments the nations have formulated varied strategies aimed to garnering new synergies from the technological developments. These strategies enable the governments to find and implement innovative solutions to issues in e-government. Recent evidence show that in many of the developed countries, despite various services are already being provided online, citizens and businesses prefer to retain the option of using both traditional and non-traditional channels of service delivery alternatively depending on the time and location where the users would like to access the services.

With a view to improve the efficiency in operating e-government, many of the countries have embarked on integrating e-government policies and strategies with transformation policies and strategies. This approach is being followed by most of the OECD countries. For instance, Switzerland has established a common body under the new e-government strategy. The purpose of this body is to coordinate various policies of the government including the policies on data sharing.

These policies are determined based in the agreements between the federal government and the cantons being the signatories to the agreement. The Dutch government is following the practice of employing common public sector e-government building blocks to ensure the provision of a seamless service to the citizens and businesses and also to reduce the administrative burden. In many of the developed countries which have taken up the application of e-governance including the OECD nations, the focus of e-government development is on the creation of back office coherence and efficiencies. These nations aim at improving the efficiency of the delivery of e-services and expand the role of public sector in the day-to-day life of the citizens.

The back office process integration and re-engineering also assumed greater significance in the case of some of the developing countries. For example, in Bangladesh one of the city councils the Department of Public Health has successfully integrated birth and immunization schedules for the children in the online ‘Birth Registration Information System (eBRIS) which has resulted in significant benefits in reducing the dropouts from the immunization programs and in ensuring better service delivery in respect of other services to such children.

Nevertheless, despite the concerted efforts of different countries in the direction of increasing the implementation and utility of e-governance there are varying challenges to be faced by these countries. The intensity and multitude of these challenges vary depending on the stated objectives of the nations. Different nations start from different stages in terms of e-government and administrative development according to their own requirements and within the parameters of the set objectives.

However, for most of the developing countries, the ICT services are still in the infant stage. This necessitates the policymakers to arrive at an approach that provides for a multiple channel service delivery of the government services. The governments in such cases may have to make use of both electronic and non-electronic media. In cases of countries, where the population without access to ICT tools is large, it is not advisable to think of online services as an alternative for providing government services. It is important that the governments take into account the level of development expected, the degree of access available to ICT tools, development of ICT infrastructure and the skill levels prevalent in the country where the governments wish to use any ICT-led strategy for e-government improvements.

While the growth of e-government in the UK and many other countries has been effective, with the proliferation of ICT there is considerable scope for the expansion of the provision of services in various areas. In many of the cases the websites are not equipped to offer a full ‘transactional’ service to the needy customers. There is also the need to focus on marginalizing other key requirements of e-government including the development of e-democracy with more accountable and open relationship between citizens and government.

Although, e-services can be implemented without a corresponding fundamental transformation in the ways the governments are operating, an effective e-government environment requires such a transformation to take place. In effect such transformation has to take place in the cultural and leadership areas rather than on the technological areas. Such transformation requires the way in which people value and use information. In addition changes in the working pattern of people, advancements in technology and in the issues of social inclusion and government accountability are also required to ensure the effective implementation of e-government initiatives.

In order to have a balanced and healthy development of e-government in the long-run, greater attention needs to be paid to all the issues relating to the educating the people, including leadership, training, development of skills, and citizenship. Mere developments in the technological areas are not just sufficient to ensure a balanced growth of e-governments. With the continued innovative efforts of the private sector in the commercial applications of ICT, the governments can effectively utilize such resources in the ICT innovation for the betterment in the provision of services to the public. With the development in the maturity of e-governments the innovating ICT developments would become synonymous with the e-government initiatives.

Recommendations

E-government has the objective of improving the business of the government, using the technology and thereby enhancing the access to and delivery of government services to benefit citizens, business partners and employees. Against this broad objective e-governments in several states have some success and they continue to develop. However there is still a large scope for bringing in more improvements in the service delivery. The following are few recommendations which might enhance the utility of the e-government activities.

  • Computer literacy at the root level is of immense importance for the success of the e-government initiatives. Therefore it becomes important that the government concentrates on educating the masses on the access and use of computers and other media tools like digital televisions and mobile phones for promoting the e-government initiatives. Installing government owned internet kiosks with assistance at the local and village areas would remove the barrier of shyness among the masses to use the ICT for interacting with the government on their service needs. Public servants appointed to be present in the kiosks can be of assistance to the people when they approach the government for their information and service needs.
  • Government should set time limits as norms for service delivery when requested by the citizens and businesses online. These norms should be strictly followed by the government departments and agencies in providing the services. This would enhance the confidence and trust of the people on the efficiency of the e-government functioning.
  • Interactive sessions of expressing public opinions on the functioning and improvements needed in the service delivery should be conducted by the local authorities. Such sessions should take place on a continuous basis so that the inefficiencies in the working of the e-government would be brought out by the people and such deficiencies can be rectified by the government on priority.

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Appendix 1

Questionnaire

Part I

Demographic Information:

Please place a check (√) in the appropriate box which describes your current position

  • Gender:
    • Male
    • Female
  • Age:
    • Less than 25 years
    • 25 – 30
    • 31 –35
    • 36-40
    • 41-45
    • 46-50
    • 51-Above
  • Education Level:
    • Secondary
    • Bachelor’s degree
    • Master’s degree
    • Doctorate and other Professional
  • Length of Employment:
    • 1-5 years
    • 6-10 years
    • 11-15 years
    • 16-20 years
    • 21-25 years
    • 26-30 years
    • Above 30 years
  • Monthly Income
    • $ 5,000
    • $ 5,001-10,000
    • $ 10,001-15,000
    • $ 15,001-20,000
    • Above $ 20,001

Part II

Answer by placing a check (√) in the appropriate box (yes or no) which describes your current position depending on your condition

  • Do you have easy access to the Internet?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Would you prefer to put e-government in place?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you have knowledge of e-government?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you have a personal computer at home?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you have a computer in your office?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you have Internet services at home?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you have Internet services in your office?
    • Yes
    • No

Part III

Perceived Obstacles to E-government Implementations

Please read each statement carefully, and check (√) the response that best expresses your perception about e-government obstacles as explained in the following statements. Please, if you do not know you should check “neutral”.

1= strongly disagree: if you strongly disagree that the statement is considered an obstacle of e-government.

2= disagree: if you disagree that the statement is considered an obstacle of e-government.

3= neutral: if you don’t agree or disagree about that the statement.

4= agree: if you agree that the statement is considered an obstacle of e-government.

5= strongly agree: if you strongly agree that the statement is considered an obstacle of e-government.

  • Are the following items considered political (legislative and regulatory) obstacles to the implementation of e-government in institutions?
    • Inadequate individual legal right
    • Lack of political leadership support
    • Lack of appropriate laws for e-usage
  • Are the following items considered financial obstacles to the implementation of e-government in educational institutions?
    • Limited of financial spending on IT
    • High of IT
    • High-priced services of telecommunications
  • Are the following items considered technological (infrastructure) obstacles to the implementation of e-government in educational institutions?
    • Inadequate software programs to implement e-government
    • Insufficient maintenance of e-devices
    • Lack of e-signature option
    • Computer usage is not widely spread among people
    • Limited postal services
    • Weak IT infrastructures
    • Lack of e-payment option
    • Inadequate phone lines
    • Difficulties in keeping up with current technological advancements and rapid changes
    • Insufficient network security
    • Weakness of telecommunication infrastructure
  • Are the following items considered organizational obstacles to the implementation of e-government in educational institutions?
    • Lack of programs to promote e-government benefits and advantages
    • Lack of cooperation between public and private sector in IT
    • Lack of advisory committees or task forces to implement e-government projects
    • Complexity of current administrative procedures
    • Lack of support from upper management
    • Lack of strategic planning
    • Little collaboration among governmental agencies
    • Weak current administrative systems
    • Lack of reengineering of procedures and operations
    • Lack of central authority at the country level for e-government applications
    • Lack of clear vision about e-government project
    • Inadequacy of qualified personnel for e-government applications
    • Staff resistance to change
  • Are the following items considered Social Infrastructure Obstacles to the implementation of e-government in educational institutions?
    • Lack of society’s awareness about e-government advantages and benefits
    • Low levels of literacy among citizens
    • Lack of trust in e-dealings
    • Technology usage conflicts with cultural habits
    • Lack of computer literacy among citizens
    • Technology usage conflicts with religious tenets
    • Lack of Internet access among various sections of population
    • Lack of necessary skills for e-government applications
    • Dependence of Internet usage on the English language
    • Low level of citizen income
    • Uncertainties about the benefits of the use of new technology

Part IV

Role of Knowledge Management in E-government

  • Knowledge Management is at the root of the success of e-government setup.
  • Know-how, technical skill requirements or problem solving methods are well coded in the e-government applications.
  • Knowledge can be acquired easily through the existing formal documents and manuals.
  • Advises from the experts can be obtained on the current e-government applications.
  • On an overall assessment Knowledge sharing and management enhances the effectiveness of e-government.