The Internet, the personal computers and the mobile phones have revolutionized our lives. This revolutionizing also affects governments through e-government while governments around the world recognize e-government’s importance and benefits and looking for related solutions to optimize their services to the citizens.
The World Bank (2012) defines e-government as the use of information technology by government agencies who are responsible for transforming information between people, businesses, and all other governmental stakeholders. The e-government has a wide range of objectives including better delivery of public services to people, enhancing business and industry collaborations, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more effective governance. The resulting advantages of e-government can be less corruption, higher transparency, and higher comfort, development in income and also reduction in costs.
The e-government’s ultimate objective is offering enhanced portfolio of public services in an efficient and cost-effective way to citizens. The e-government also could provide more transparency for the government because it enables the public to be informed about what government is working on and the policies which are enforced.
The primary benefit would be replacing and optimizing the Paper Based System while implementing electronic government. That could save lots of time, money and also environment in return due to reducing paper consumption.
The implementation of e-government could also promote better communications between government and business sectors. For example e-procurement as a subsidiary of e-government services could facilitate communication between G2G and B2B that this will allow smaller businesses to compete with bigger companies in public tenders. Hence the benefit of e-government could be creating open and transparent market and a stronger economy.
Nowadays, companies and people can get information quicker and at any moment of the day in comparison to the past. E-government and its capacity could be available to all people regardless of their place or social level.
In summary, more efficiency, enhanced services to better serve citizens, better accessibility of public services, more transparency and accountability of government are the expected advantages of e-government.
The e-government disadvantages
E-government is not all about advantages but it also has some disadvantages, too. The primary disadvantages of e-government is the absence of public Internet access for all citizens, reliability of the published information on the web by the governmental agencies, and also capabilities of government and its agencies which can affect public opinions potentially.
In addition to the mentioned disadvantages on above, there are some other disadvantages for e-government which are as below:
- Higher surveillance and monitoring: Once government implement e-government, people will be compelled to communicate with it on a wider scale electronically. As the government receives more and more information about its citizens, this could possibly lead to a lack of privacy for civilians.
- Being too costly: Implementing, maintaining and optimizing e-government is not cheap and requires to spend lots of money.
- Inaccessibility for all: e-government couldn’t be accessible by all including those who are living in distant regions, or have low rates of literacy and income on the poverty line.
Some people believe that e-government is merely a website that could deliver public services through the Internet. This is however an oversimplification of the capacity of e-government.
E-government could be classified as two types:
- E-services: digital provision of services, programs and information by governments.
- E-collaboration: Internet or digital communications which could boost participatory public activities like voting or even paying tax.
There are some problems which e-government could solve them more effectively that they are:
- Governing is too costly and expensive: E-government has effective solutions for this problem. It could reduce the related costs and enhancing the effectiveness of spending money by government.
- Governing is inconvenient: E-government could improve and encourage the rate of participating and using the public services. It could also receive feedbacks from people, and enhance accountability for public servants consequently.
- Governments are no transparent: E-government can satisfy transparency expectations of their citizens and make better and stronger relationship with people and private sector.
E-government is a common way of conducting government across the globe. More implementing of e-government means ease of use of governmental services for citizens, enhancing governmental service delivery, simplifying compliance of governmental laws for citizens, improving citizen engagement and trust in public, decreasing fraud and improving cost efficiency for the government.
It could also deliver cost savings to people and companies, too. Therefore, it is not surprising that policymakers and executives in the world are looking to embrace e-government, from the most developed to the least developed ones. E-government raises the standards of living and becomes a vital tool for governments and their citizens. E-government is not merely a symptom of the digital revolution, but generates true advantages for governments, citizens, private sector and all other stakeholders of government.