New e-Government policy for good governance

December 9, 2013
The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) has decided to amend the eGovernment policy appropriately. Valuable deliberations and inter-action by eGovernment stakeholders took place recently for arriving at a new e-Government policy for Sri Lanka to embark on an era of better governance soon. That was when the workshop themed ‘eGovernment for good governance’ hosted by ICTA was held at Hotel Galadari, Colombo recently (3 Dec). A large number of Government Institution heads, Chief Innovation Officers (CIOs), representatives from Academia, the private sector and other institutions participated in the workshop. The event included addresses and presentations on ‘Background and introduction to new eGovernment Policy’, ‘eGovernment Policy – Vision and Overview of Policy’ and ‘Introduction to review process’ by the Review Committee. This was followed by group activities and group presentations comprising ratings of policy clauses with regard to qualities like clarity, applicability and implementability.

The first eGovernment policy in Sri Lanka ‘the ICT Policy and Procedures for the Government (eGovernment Policy)’ was initially approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 16 December 2009. It was to be implemented by all Government organisations including ministries, Government departments, provincial councils, district secretariats, divisional secretariats and local Government authorities.

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Policy should be dynamic

With rapid changes in the technologies and with the advancement of eGovernment implementation, it is required to review and reformulate the eGoverment policy. Even at the time when the policy was approved, it had been identified that the policy should be dynamic and should be amended as and when necessary. In order to achieve this objective a committee comprising senior government officials, Chief Innovation Officers, academics, technologists and eGovernment experts have been set up to review and reformulate the eGovernment policy.

As planned, the eGovernment policy given the cabinet nod in 2009 was reviewed in March 2011 and in April 2012. Although the self-assessment by relevant stakeholders on their compliance with the 2009 policy was 55% in 2011 and 51% in 2012, two drawbacks surfaced in the review. One was that inter-institution understanding needed to be improved. The other was the maturity of the understanding of the eGovernment policy needed to be raised to a higher level.   In this backdrop ICTA carried out about 25 workshops island-wide including the North and East to ensure better orientation towards eGovernment policy among relevant stakeholders.  Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga issued two circulars one in 2010 and other in 2011 urging compliance with the eGovernment policy.

Although the first eGovernment policy came into force in 2009 with the cabinet nod much behind-the-scenes work had been done in 2007 and 2008 as well towards formulating an appropriate eGovernment policy. In this endeavour ICTA availed itself also of developments in the field overseas.  Many governments and civil societies had identified eight key goals/pillars as the primary objectives of Good Governance.

10 Good Governance objectives

ICTA considered these good governance principles termed ‘Good Governance Octagon’ and formulated its own 10 Good Governance objectives. These are as follows:

Objective 1–Make government information available and accessible electronically to citizens through multiple channels

Objective 2 – Make government services electronically available and accessible to all citizens via multiple channels in a citizen friendly manner

Objective 3–Improve/Re-engineer government processes to be citizen centric

Objective 4– Use eGovernment to eliminate duplication in ICT Infrastructure, information collection, government processes and ICT solutions within and across government organisations

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Objective 5–Use of ICT to achieve, measure, monitor and publish defined service levels for all government services

Objective 6 – Address the requirements/needs of marginalised communities through ICT

Objective 7 – Implement processes and systems in government organisations to be highly responsive  and interactive through the use of ICT

Objective 8–Enable citizen engagement through electronic means for consensus driven, public policy and decision making process wherever authorized

Objective 9–Strengthen rule of law through the use of ICT

Objective 10 – Establish and implement of a proper enabling operational framework for successful eGovernance

Based on the vision ‘To be the most citizen-friendly Government through eGovernance’, ICTA through the eGovernment team has thus come up with a new draft eGovernment policy. The eGovernment policy of 2009 had 177 policy clauses. The new policy comprises 132 policy clauses formulated after group activities and inter-action taking into consideration the feedback, trends in technology and stakeholder thinking.

For view of the draft new eGovernment policy and expression of views log on to http://egovpolicyen.engage.icta.lk/. Views of stakeholders are welcome till 31 December 2013.

Sourced by :-http://www.ft.lk

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