E-government and democracy, put together, is simply one segment of e-democracy mystery. Be it online advocacy, lobbying, political views, discussions, or activism, the contemporary governance is moving towards being online globally. What is yet to be known is whether both aspects of politics and governance as is known would eventually transform for going online.
From the perception of every government, business organizations, or civil society, it is moderately plain to examine the institutional engagement in developing participatory democracy online. Placing the entire situation into consideration is the problematic challenge. Examining this approach, e-government and democracy is not developed in a vacuum, neither is it established on efforts that are in steady environment. However, the person who really feels the experience and the totality of the democratic space is the citizens or the e-citizens (Gupta 2003).
Therefore, my argument takes an inclusive look at the democratic aspects that can be acquired or sought by government, or the civil society, in addition to others so as to broaden and enhance participatory egalitarianism online. With a specific spotlight on e-government and democracy, the dream for online-developed participatory equality or e-democracy depends on an augmentation model of development that entails numerous democratic scions and their establishments across the community.
Hence, democratic agencies of government, political organizations, interest groups, the media, and the citizens are leaning towards going online. And the emerging question is not whether e-democracy will materialize. Basically, e-governance and democracy are here. The actual question understands where we are and what is probable, what type of e-governance and democracy can or, still yet, should we embrace.
Governments, as civil institutions and custodians of democracy, ought to undertake proactive responsibility in the online community (Hislop 2005). Therefore, they have to sustain the current democratic activities despite demands from the information-age. Equally, they have to integrate and adapt online stratagems and technologies to steer endeavors that enlarge and expand participatory democracy.
Widening citizen involvement in democracy is essential to ascertaining that government at each level and in all nations can mutually accommodate the will of their citizens and more efficiently handle the civil challenges. The way to information-era democracy is an intentional one. And that is why the e-governance and democracy paths ought to be defined, and this would provide secure and confident steps in its growth.
The cardinal objectives of e-government are to make the conventional government more efficient, result-oriented, as well as being citizen focused. Also, e-government is designed to provide suitable environment for citizen to access government services freely. This is commonly established to make the available information or services to be utilized effectively and efficiently through the use of internet and other related channels. Therefore the explicit aims of e-government are (Harris, et al 2006):
- Improve cooperation involving government institutions through cut in the replication of efforts, and augment competence and usefulness of resource exploitation;
- Improve the nations’ competitiveness by giving judicious information as well as delivery of government resources and services ;
- Reduce operation expenses for the government, populace and the private segment through the stipulation of products and services by electronic means;
- Provide a medium for citizens’ involvement in Government actions.
Therefore, the e-government helps in the provision of better services at a subsidized cost. At a glance, e-government is a significant, forward oriented path for the government to interact with the masses. Thus, in regard to citizens, every informed citizen expects more from the government. This is illustrated in the manner a citizen rejects to queue for government services. Thus, this magnifies the scope of transparency and accountability the e-government has managed to establish. More so, pertaining to the scope of democracy, the objectives of this system is to give each and every citizen an equal share of participation in governance (Holmes 2001).
The e-Government stratagem outlines the aims and processes for the reconstruction of Government, as a way towards: augmentation of transparency, responsibility and good democratic governance; making the Government more result- leaning, resourceful and citizen-centered. The effective and competent realization of e-Government purposes largely relies on the accessibility of skills and the suitable attitudes in the given Government. The administration personnel at every level must be continuously and sufficiently outfitted through pertinent training to successfully carry out this enterprise. Hence, e-government has compelled diverse global governments to change the way they execute their operations. This has enhanced and fuelled the growth of democracies and the respect for human rights.
Advantages and Disadvantages
There are countless advantages of implementing an e-government/democracy. The major benefit of e-government/democracy entails improving the competency and reliability of the current mechanism. This has illustrated to be one of key factors of reducing government waste while saving time and resources. Also, e-government/democracy provides a healthy ground for sustaining communication between government, citizens, and the corporate world. For instance, E-procurement, B2B, and G2G communication; allows the smaller enterprises to have an equal opportunity to vie for government jobs and contracts with the established organizations. Basically, this benefit helps in augmenting economic democracy by facilitating the growth of open and profound economy.
Hence, both citizens and corporate businesses can acquire the apposite information at a greater efficiency at any time or period of the day. Also, the ability of the current e-government helps the populace in accessing the valuable government services irrespective of time and location. Considering that both information and government statistics are posted online, the concept of democratic government, government policies, information, and services are potentially available. And this reflects the considerable democratic transparency of e-government.
On the other hand e-government/democracy consist a number of disadvantages. The principal disadvantage of this system is to channel government services into an e-based system. The scope of e-government/democracy has naturally destroyed the traditional person-to-person communication which is greatly valued in most societies. Also the execution of this system is making it possible for many people to make excuses correlated to technology thus encouraging delays.
More so, the accomplishment of e-government/democracy is facing diverse challenges and constraints. User’s literacy, and the competence in using computer as well as those who do not know how to read or write, equally needs help. And this is affecting the senior citizens who are not computer literate (Davenport 2005). Hence, several studies have established that there could be a probable decrease in the usage of e-government due to some of the mentioned factors such as the unavailability of internet know-how as well as usability of accessible services. Even while the intensity of assurance in the security presented by government sites are lofty, the civic societies are still apprehensive over safety, alarm over spam from giving email addresses, in addition to government preservation of transaction or communication history.
Role of Technology in e-government
The objective of technology in e-government is to provide a suitable platform for communication. It should be noted that without the participation of IT experts e-government cannot be effective. This is well testified by the manner government services are delivered. Also the establishment of public as well as private portals has increased the efficacy of e-government. Therefore, the principal role of technology lies in enhancing and streamlining the accessibility of e-government for better performance. The technology is paramount in the provision of e-government in that the government is given a priority to interact with her population effectively. Equally, the role of technology has been correlated to enhanced decision making including making diverse political procedures to be more effective.
E-Government Democracy: The Role of Citizens
The e-government democracy has provided the citizens with a broad approach to social issues. Hence, the citizens have embraced this concept in providing insightful analysis of what the government should be or should not be doing. Therefore, in essence the role of the citizens is to keep the government informed of the issues that are affecting the civil community. And these roles have lead to the growth and progression of high performance within the established democratic institutions. Too, the role of citizens in regard to e-government democracy is illustrated in the manner the citizens reflects on the issues of basic rights. And this indicates that the citizens thinking are open and much in focus in what they desire to achieve. And this has resulted in the governments changing their social and political scope.
Thus, the roles of the citizens have moved from the being just being voters to being more interactive. And this points to why the citizens are exploiting advanced information technologies to enhance e-government democracy. This has contributed to the citizen’s manner of evaluating the government strategies regarding the implementation of key development policies.
The current crop of citizenry is more informed, information savvy, and inventive. Unlike the earlier citizens, they have embraced interactive approach of dealing with diverse governmental issues. This has resulted in better provision of government services as well as transparency and accountability with the e-government democracy (Bhatnagar 2004).
Hence, dynamics of e-government are thus compelled to include information regarding social practices, strategies, citizen representation, and information technologies. Thus, these roles have assisted in enhancing effective, responsive, and transparent participation in e-government democracy.
Security and Privacy concerns
in no other time in human history has the global government stored such amount of information as is witnessed today. People are at liberty to access substantial amount of government information provided online regardless of their country or continent. Indeed, the commencement of ICT has eased service delivery as well as several advantages to the public governance. Nonetheless, it has raised a series of concerns such as trust, privacy of confidential information and other security affiliated anxieties. Security in e-government is rated as the most vital aspects as it include access control, trust and authentication. To uphold trust and confidence the clients and companies must be assured of their data security. This is by insulating their sensitive data from being accessed by hackers who are malicious and can alter private information to get undue benefits. Hence, one’s information should be held with utmost care and should only be used for the destined purpose as specified by the abiding contracts or established law.
In addition, clients must positively relate with the medium of information exchange for them to fully read and meditate upon knowledge disseminated by the sources without qualms. E-goverment still has a role of ensuring that any information destined for a particular customer reaches him or her in the right manner and time. This action is vital as it creates robust trust among the electronic consumers and of paramount importance; the government knows who to foot the bill incase the delivery incurred charges. Some of the governments have been reluctant to adopt public access electronic information due to its security sensitivity. For example Australia government has delayed permitting personal data access.
Although they take as a gradual process, they seem to have adopted the system of “wait and see.” This system albeit slow is an effective method of gradual awareness that offers time to meditate upon the best mechanisms to overcoming security threats. However, security of a country may be threatened by its reckless in handling its security data. If security information happens to be online, rival government may use it to evaluate and analyze your weakness for easier invasion. In today’s innovative world show of power and might has become the order of the day.
For instance, the United States of America has been alleged using programmed virus compact disc to bring down Tehran Nuclear information. Many diverse cyber wars are being fought by the developed countries as way of maintaining their grip on power. For this reason, every country is more cautious with its online information and access (Heeks 2005). E-goverment has crafted ways of safeguarding customer, and citizen privacy through enquiring an individual to have an account name plus a strong password for security purposes.
With this form of privacy, e-governments have maintained customer security and privacy as it is only the registered customers are allowed to access some sources or their own accounts. And besides, use of username and password as a form of enhancing security by the e-goverment, a customer is allowed to alter password at her or his own pleasure.
The current class of population is more techno-savvy relative to older generation, consequently, the need to take outright care when handling electronic articles. Several techno-savvy youths and young adults who are jobless are and have been utilizing their knowledge negatively by creating spam meant for conning gullible masses.
E-democracy (Current events, e-voting)
Electronic democracy allows room for e-voting to mitigate the long queue of public dissident during electioneering voting. Electronic voting entails several types of voting but the major ones are electronic vote casting and electronic vote counting. Electronic voting may include optical scan voting systems or punched cards. This has been established to provide enhanced accessibility to disadvantaged and handicapped citizens. However, in some countries such as the US, concerns have been raised over reliability of electronic voting (Gupta, et al 2008). Many seem to argue this system could be abused through fraud. Nevertheless, e-democracy has become an element of considerable value to the citizens. With enhanced information technology the masses are continuously informed of the government policies, structural, or even legal changes, while on the other hand, providing a more interactive platform.
E-government and democracy are becoming the beacons of transparency and accountability. This has resulted in citizens addressing the issues of corruption considerably. Thus, corruption either in the traditional system or in the e-system is being fundamentally rejected. More so, regarding the government services being offered online, corruption has been stamped out. Therefore, this system has played a significant role in establishing integrity and transparency within diverse government ranks. The efficiency and success of e-government has increased the fight against corruption in diverse government agencies. Furthermore, formation of transparency organizations and anticorruption commissions as a way of maintaining balance and checks within the government echelons of power has considerably mitigated sleaze. Whistle blowers are now many and highly armed by the social forum available on the electronic sources of e-goverment, hence; any form of corruption detected is reported and publicized.
Every citizen is empowered to whistle any form of corruption perceived to take place or ongoing, thus aiding in halting it or preventing it from happening. In a country like China, corruption has being highly combated through e-goverment services available to citizen. People are vibrant and aggressive in demanding the government budgetary allocation and spending. Another crucial case is that of Pakistan where the World Bank gave a hand in establishment of e-government services through which corruption was reduced (Gupta 2008). The frequent bank forgery and conning were stopped and detected, other bank frauds were mitigated through commencement of credit reference bureaus. These bureaus helped tracking down the serial loan defaulters who would switch from one bank to another in search of other borrowings knowing correctly they would never services those loans. E-government came in to salvage banks which were experiencing huge bad debt from such kind of crafty malpractice by some clients.
E-government and democracy integration has expanded democratic space where citizens can express their feelings and aspiration without fear. Corruption has significantly been curtailed through transparency forums and information which is free to be accessed by any one on the globe. Therefore, with that magnitude of exposure and blacklisting of corrupt names, individuals who used to survive through corrupt means are going slow and trending carefully having known repercussion associated with being exposed. In terms of service delivery, e-government has done reasonably commendable work of escalating effective and efficient services to its clientele (Prusak 1997). Citizens no longer have to queue for services as was experienced traditionally, government jobs and procurements are being applied online, thus reducing rooms for corruption and personality discrimination. Freedom of exercising one’s right has been spread out as people whose government has introduced e-voting can vote and participate in principal decision making regarding their own country irrespective of their location (Agarwal 2007; Rosei 2003).
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