The most widely accepted normative model of "good" public management is called results-based management. It encourages planning and target setting to make the organization more proactive; an emphasis on outcomes to make the organizations better focused on their mission; quick performance feedback to make the organizations more responsive; and continuous process improvements to make the organizations better able to serve its clients. These changes are possible only with supporting information communication technologies. However, ICTs can increase management effectiveness only if their role has been carefully designed. Before implementing major ICT changes, top public managers must begin by determining such policy issues as what information would best guide upcoming major decisions; what balance the agency wishes between internal information accessibility versus security; and how best to balance frontline worker empowerment versus the need for organizational uniformity.
1. Can members please share their country and/or orgnisational experiences regarding the best approaches to e-Government? Where there is success,what have been the major critical success factors and where there has been failure what can be done to redress the situation?
2. How can governments partner with the private sector to effectively provide e-services? What are the best Public-Private- Partnership arrangements?
Surely, e-Government is the best option for Result Based Management of public resources in Nigeria and other African countries. This will enhanced government management effectiveness and efficiency. However, there is urgent need to address one fundamental problem before we can adopt e-Government. That it, Weak ICT Capacity among government officials (Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)) and low knowledge, skills and expertise in research, project Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) in Nigeria and other African Countries.
Government in African Countries need to put in place concrate action plans to develop their Human Resource capacity and ability to utilize ICT in its operations to enhance it ability to deplore e-Government. Also, Result Based Management Approach will ensure timely tracking of projects, services and personnel performance as well as non-performance in order to take prompt action to address obstacles and problems militating against prompt projects and service delivery.
Government need to partners and learn from successful approaches in the private sector. Infact, government need to adopt private sector Corporate Planning Approach to be able to set goals, objects, strategies and Key Performance Indicators that will serve as bases or bench mark for checking performance and service delivery
Thank you very much for your insightful input. I hope others will find it useful too.
Good Morning all,
I was wondering for a country like Egypt where the RBM is still in its formation phase, what do you recommend we do to establish a well defined ICT system? Your points and views on implementing a successful and effective ICT system were very helpful but I wanted a clearer view on the challenges we could face. We're a part of a unit in Egypt determined to establish an RBM system in the Egyptian government. So any recommendations on how to proceed with the ICT system for RBM?
It is true that ICTs do play an important role in providing the feedback loop on the programme performance. However, from my personal experience, the ICT initiative as an enabler of MfDR should be attempted at the programme/project level. This introduces the culture of Managing for Development Results at the project level, which is the scene of action. The National ICT for MfDR can be an unobtrusive tool linking the programmes/projects of departments/ministries with well thought out dash boards along with certain predictive intelligence built in. A simple, easy to use and an intuitive MfDR planning, monitoring and evaluation tool is the crying need at the project/programme level, without which the national MfDR ICT initiative will be unsuccessful.
This is a critical issue in Government. You are very right that a number of efficiency gains envisaged with Results Based Management "are possible only with supporting information communication technologies". To appreciate the importance of the role of IT in Government, it is critical to appreciate that in many instances, the entire government has been undergoing fundamental reforms in many developing countries, with issues of efficiency and effectiveness in the utilisation of resources and improvement in service delivery taking center stage . Therefore structures, systems and processes have all been affected. The changes that have been planned therefore of necessity 'required IT' support to succeed. After all a number of these changes in improving service delivery have been akin to "Business Process Re-engineering"- which cannot take place without IT. IT also fitted well with concepts such as 'doing more with less'.
However inspite of all these noble aspirations- without a doubt I think ICT Projects across many governments have been the biggest white elephants of all reform initiatives. As much as they promise very attractive solutions, their implementations within the Government Sector has been dismal. Why has this been so?
1. In proposing IT solutions to any organization, there are two ways to go about it (a) Get an off-the-shelf ready software solution and adapt it to local environment or (b) Develop an in-house program. The first solution is often the preferred one because it is quicker and in most cases cheaper. It is however in many instances difficult to adapt in many government environments. The support system is often outside the government and in a number of instances often seen as a outside project, public servants therefore often frustrate and do not corporater fully with its project promoters. The other difficulty that may be experienced in introducing off-the-shelf solutions is that the corresponding administrative structures are often left intact and the system support staff come in just as an appendix. In fact in the early times they are often forgotten in departmental meetings.
The other option of developing an in-house program although the better option in a number of instances may not be pursued frequently due to 'the few numbers of good system developers' operating in the public sector. It may also take a longer time and often when many governments tend to turn to IT, they are after a quick solution.
2. In most governments, IT is seen as the driver of solutions NOT the Tool. There is a huge disconnect in the way IT is applied in many government departments. I mean that the initiator must be subject matter expert who needs an It solution in their area of operation. System developers who are not subject matter experts are left to develop IT solutions to challenges facing the government. Because IT offers solutions, the developers are expected to come up with solutions in HR, Finance, and all manner of areas. It needs to be appreciated that whereas the developer in the course of development of a system will get the views of the client. In many government environments this interaction is often not optimal and the assignment is often left to lower rank who often in the course of development are bound to give mostly 'official' position and not the operating reality( As would be expected).
The situation for developers is made worse by the lack of appreciation of the full potential of IT by many senior public servants. Systems analysts are therefore reduced to preparing power point presentations for senior officers, fixing toners in printers and searching for documents on the desk top whenever the boss cannot find them. The lack of appreciation of the potential of IT means that the bosses cannot challenge the IT department to develop solutions to challenges facing the department.
Possible solutions- include the Government need to integrate IT fully and not look at it as an auxilliary service. IT projects in government are not seperate projects BUT are integral part of reforms. We should not therefore talk of ICT Reforms, because ideally they are introduced as part of what we call reforms- the IFMISES are just to support Financial Sector Reforms. So it it strange at times to see in Governments Financial Management Sector Reforms being handled seperately from IFMIS Project!!!!!!! and one being totally independent of the other. It is therefore not uncommon to hear accountants and finance officers in government blaming IFMIS.
Does the private sector have a role in public sector in providing e-service? Yes they do and they can play a very big role for that matter. Even before coming to the tail end of service delivery, the private sector can partner with the Government in providing the back-born infrastructure on equity basis to ensure that the eventual cost of accessing the infrastructure is affordable. Build-Operate-Transfer may also be very good arrangements in areas such as developing Public Service Delivery Centers as found in Brazil. The private sector can also provide end solutions in a number of service delivery areas such electronic renewal of lisences which if computerised can be done using machines which may not necessarily be managed by government, this include a whole range of machines such as the Electronic Tax Registers etc.
I think the collaboration can be as wide as the number of options adopted towards a specific challenge.
Thank very much for this invaluable input. I will definitely share this with my colleagues for the effective implementation of e-Government in my country
Thank you. The number 3. point I noted I needed to include is in Implementation Challenges.
IT projects by nature of the industry cannot be implemented over long term periods, stopped and continued as at when funds are available. Or little amounts allocated to the project as they await 'supplementary estimates'!!!! However, unfortunately our governments often treat them as any other infrastructure project such as roads and building. IT System Platforms, Programs and Hardware requirements change so fast such that if there are not implemented within the specified period, the entire project will be extremely difficult to excute. Most Governments tend to review the budget submissions and introduce 'cuts' midstream. The likely victim, because of a proper lack of appreciation is often the IT Project. Typical core aspects of most IT Projects, may not be implemented over 4-5 years with the same specifications!!!!! Whereas in a building project, the only likely risk is cost, in IT the risk is bigger with a possibility of original design being rendered obsolete, due to rapid changes in technology. So before you even get your system up and running, by the time all components are in place, you are already struggling with issues of migration to newer versions, hardware upgrades, retraining etc!!
In the traditional government budget environment however the supply department often purchases some part of the hardware such as the server and even software as they await another financial year to budget for other components may be the work stations. Then the next financial year get allocation to cover part of the cabling, then another financial remaining workstations. By the time all components are in place, the initial hardware that was bought in year one is out of sync with the prevailing components making the project extremely difficult to excute without making drastic changes to the initial design.
Thus it is very likely, that the planning and design can all go well and the project is messed up at the implementation stage, especially due to the Government Budget Practices, which is made worse by lack of understanding and support for IT Projects from top government officials. And that is where, Public-Private collaboration such as Build-Operate- Transfer (BOT) if well structured come in handy in IT Projects. Or when structured as Turn-Key Projects. In all these Government Staff need to drive the entire process and be at the center of planning and execution.