Sunday, December 02, 2007

Misra,D.C.(2008): Review of Chen (2007): Electronic Engagement: A Guide for Public Sector Managers

Book Review

Public Sector Managers as “Responsive Entrepreneurs:” Will they deliver in developing countries?
by Dr D.C.Misra*

The Web-based e-government, launched more than a decade ago, has unleashed two unique and surging phenomena in the field of democracy, which, one must hasten to add, has also varying degrees of freedom in different democratic countries worldwide. First, it has made available a set of tools to citizens to express themselves online commenting upon the affairs of the state, particularly those that impact on her life. These include emails, online discussion groups, blogs, wiki, portals, etc. Secondly, it has created a new entity called electronic citizen or e-citizen, who has, within a short span of her birth, started clamouring for her e-rights and is also prepared to discharge e-duties.1

Despite this revolutionary development, the vast majority of citizens still keep aloof from the state. This creates a vicious cycle in practice. Lack of involvement of citizens in the affairs of the state gives rise to poor policy formulation and implementation. And poor policy formulation and implementation, in its turn, disenchants and alienates the citizen from the affairs of the state. This vicious cycle can, however, luckily be broken if information and communication technologies (ICTs) are used to engage citizens in the affairs of the state.
This is thus a very timely monograph** on the emerging subject of electronic engagement or e-engagement written by Dr Peter Chen, a Research Associate with the National Centre for Australian Studies, part of Faculty of Arts at Monash University. The Guide aims to ‘equip the public sector manager to assess the value that new communications and computing technology may bring to their interactions with a range of potential stakeholders. It is written for mangers who have an interest in expanding their approach to public engagement rather than information technology professionals.’

Realising their importance, the Australian Government has issued Principles for ICT-enabled Citizen Engagement (AGIMO n.d.). In a path-breaking step, the Australian Government also proposes to set up a Government Consultation Blog on “community feedback on how the government can utilise new internet technologies, such as blogs, to better consult with people.” through a discussion paper “Australian Government Consultation Blog Discussion Paper.” (AGIMO 2007). It envisages consultation blog as “a website that lists consultations and allows people to post responses, comments and feedback against each consultation.” (ibid.)

The book consists of a preface, an introduction, five chapters, a bibliography and two appendices. The five chapters are organized around introduction, definitions and approaches, designing the right plan and implementing it.

In Chapter 1, Introduction: An Information Age Democracy? The author defines e-engagement as ‘the use of Information Communication Technologies by the public sector to improve, enhance and expand the engagement of the public in policy-making processes’ and introduces contested concepts like public value (creating value like in private sector) (Moore 1995) and social capital2 (value in community and networking) (Van den Hooff, de Ridder and Aukema 2004), draws attention to the expanding role of public sector manager (requiring new skills and capabilities), describes information society and examines its implications, highlighting the fact that in the new environment public sector managers require new skills and capabilities.

In Chapter 2, Definitions, Differences and Approaches to eEngagement, Chen notes that there is a “wide array of competing, contested and conflicting definitions employed to describe” e-engagement (p-11). The role of public sector manager in electronically-facilitated democracy is, following Moore, “responsive entrepreneurs.” The relationship between the development of an electronically-facilitated democracy and the role of public sector manager is illustrated in Figure 1 along two axes – (vertical) nature of programmatic approach (role of government) and (horizontal) specificity of outcomes (from focused to diffused). This gives rise to three types of managerial roles: 1. Active Listening (passive management), 2. Cultivating Role (capacity building), and 3.Steering Role (high level of management and control) (p-17). These three roles or managerial approaches are also related as these will depend upon the stage of e-engagement project. In the end the author deals with digital divides, draws attention to multiple divides and indicates how these multiple divides can be bridged by a mix of information and communication technology (ICT) and traditional approaches and conceptualises “e-engagement” as a “highly effective way of motivating participation in the information economy.” (p-34).

In Chapter 3, Designing the Right Approach, the author suggests asking the following six questions for project planning: 1. What is the issue(s)? 2. Who are the audience(s)? 3. Consultation versus Collaboration? 4. What objectives do we have for this activity? 5. How interactive this process will be? and 6. What is the right channel (communications technology) to use? Answers to these questions, says the author, will “provide a solid foundation for an effective implementation plan” (p-38).

In Chapter 4, Implementation, the author lays stress on stakeholder buy-in, emphasising manage upwards (commitment from seniors), manage sideways (intra- and inter-government stakeholders), manage outwards (community members) and manage inwards (staff), and then deals with issues like managing technical issues, determining the software feature set, make or buy (software), propriety versus open source (software), low tech versus high tech, generating compelling content (and this is a challenging, often underestimated, task), compelling content versus eye candy (‘visual images that are pleasing to see but intellectually undemanding’), promotion and recruitment (for participation), conventional advertising and promotional approaches, the power of social networking (and its limitations), managing risk, security, and moderation (‘monitoring and exercising editorial control over message control’).

In the last concluding Chapter 5, Concluding the Process, the author emphasizes the importance of evaluation, noting that “Any project initiated in the public sector today will make provision for evaluation as a standard operating procedure.” (p-79). He recommends an evaluation tool of Whyte and Macintosh (2003) for e-engagement activities focusing on political, technical and social aspects. He then discusses close out processes, particularly their documentation, feedback and the eternal community.

Primarily written for the public sector managers of Australasia, this Guide will be found useful by public sector managers worldwide. The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University (ANU) needs to be congratulated for bringing out this Guide on a subject whose importance is increasing day by day.

The phenomenal success of e-commerce has whetted the appetite of citizens for e-government of similar if not the same quality as e-commerce. In this scenario the traditional risk-averse precedent-quoting civil servants are under tremendous pressure to assume the new role of “responsive entrepreneurs” in their new re-incarnation as “public sector managers,” indicative of a shift from “regulatory administration” to “participatory management.” Chen notes:

While the classic bureaucratic model emphasized and rewarded strict technical expertise, the modern public sector manager is expected to have a range of ‘soft’ skills around coalition formation and stakeholder management. (p-4).

The days of regulatory rule-bound bureaucracy thus appear to be over. E-government has already sprouted worldwide and is fast showing signs of maturity. People are, however, not satisfied with mere e-government. They now want good e-government of which citizen engagement or e-engagement in policy formulation and implementation, indeed any aspect which affects their lives, is an integral part (Misra 2007). The issue, however, is not this premise which is sound. The issue is whether public sector managers, in their new role as “responsive entrepreneurs,” will deliver in developing countries?


1 The Dutch e-Citizen Charter, for example, consists of 10 quality requirements for a new relationship between citizen and government (Poelmans 2007)

2 Next to financial capital, physical capital (tools, machines and other productive equipment), human capital (an individual’s skills and capabilities), social capital is the fourth form of capital available to actors (Van den Hooff, de Ridder and Aukema 2004: 164-65).


AGIMO (Australian Government Information Management Office), Department of Finance and Administration, Australian Government (n.d.): Principles for ICT-enabled Citizen Engagement,, accessed: September 25, 2007)

AGIMO (Australian Government Information Management Office), Department of Finance and Administration, Australian Government (2007): Australian Government Consultation Blog Discussion Paper, September,, accessed: September 25, 2007)

Misra, D.C. (2007): Select Aspects of Conceptual Foundations of E-government-2: Checking some of the Foundations (forthcoming). The first part of this three-part contribution, Select Aspects of Conceptual Foundations of E-government: Clearing the Fog for a Better Vision, has already been accepted for 5th International Conference on E-governance, December 28-30, 2007, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India (

Moore, Mark (1995): Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press

Poelmans, Matt (2007): Dutch e-Citizen Charter Promotes Citizen-Centered Government, Government Technology, April 10, (accesed: September 28, 2007)

Van den Hooff, Bart, Jan de Ridder and Eilene Aukema (2004): Exploring the Eagerness to Share Knowledge: The Role of Social Capital and ICT in Knowledge Sharing, in
Huysman, Marleen and Volker Wulf (eds.) (2004): Social Capital and Information Technology, Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press, June Chapter 7, pp 164-65,,M1, accessed: September 25, 2007)

Whyte, Angus and Ann Macintosh (2003): Analysis and Evaluation of E-Consultations, e-Service Journal, 2(1), (Abstract), accessed: September27, 2007)


*Independent E-government Researcher and Consultant, New Delhi, India. Formerly of Indian Administrative Service, Chairman, Task Force for IT Policy for Delhi and Chief Knowledge Officer, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Republic of Mauritius, Port Louis under the aegis of Commonwealth Secretariat, London. Email: dc_misra [at]

** Chen, Dr Peter (2007): Electronic Engagement: A Guide for Public Sector Managers, Canberra, ACT, Australia, ANU E Press, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, the Australian National University, xvii+103 pp

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Irish public servants believe that new technology has increased efficiency

Irish public servants surveyed believe that new technology has increased efficiency, according to a survey.

The vast majority (90pc) of the 42 Irish public servants surveyed by internet strategist Elucidate believe that technology initiatives they have carried out have made it easier for the public to contact the Government than it was two years ago, according to an article published in Some 82pc believe new technology has made their units work more efficiently. Check the full article at: (accessed: November 20, 2007)

Dr D.C.Misra
November 20, 2007
*Kennedy, John (2007): Poor funding a major obstacle to e-government,, November 19, 2007, (accessed: November 20, 2007)

*Poor funding a major obstacle to e-government

19.11.2007 - Securing adequate funding is seen as the main obstacle to more government services being offered online, leading public servants have warned in a new survey.

The vast majority (90pc) of the 42 Irish public servants surveyed by internet strategist Elucidate believe that technology initiatives they have carried out have made it easier for the public to contact the Government than it was two years ago.

Some 82pc believe new technology has made their units work more efficiently.

Maeve Kneafsey of Elucidate, which will co-host the forthcoming eGovernment Awards, and who was last week appointed chair of the Irish Internet Association, says that 85.4pc of Ireland’s senior public servants believe e-government has led to significant customer service gains.

She said that faster access to information was cited by 61pc, while increased productivity was cited by 41.5pc as the highest rated benefit of e-government.

However, she warned that funding was an issue that may hold back future initiatives.

“It may be worth Minister Cowen’s time to note that securing adequate funding was given as one of the main obstacles to more services being offered online. Yet ‘online’ can deliver greater efficiencies with the public having access on a 24/7 basis, at a time that people choose, not just during ‘normal’ office hours.

“Just think of the many, many thousands who use the Revenue Online Service as well as the tremendous success of the Motor Tax Office’s online service. While the Minister is at it, he and his government colleagues should also note that all of the respondents said there should be more incentives for people to use e-government initiatives, such as the extra time that is already allowed for people to pay taxes online,” Kneafsey said.

Kneafsey added that if the Irish Government is serious about getting more for less, in gaining greater productivity from all public services, then the future has got to be online.

“A big drive towards e-government could deliver a double whammy of being self-financing while giving the taxpayer an improved service. One final figure that is telling is that over two thirds of the respondents said that driving people to use online services was their No 1 priority, but almost the same number said they needed more resources to publicise the services,” Kneafsey said.

By John Kennedy

(Source: (accessed: November 20, 2007)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cyber Law and E-governance: Which Model is Better-the EU Model or the U.S.Model for a Developing Country?

The following question arise:

(a) What is cyber law? In what way does it distinguish from other types of law? How does creation of a separate class of law (cyber law) help legal enablement of e-governance? And why indeed is legal enablement needed and for whom?

(b) Which is larger, legally valid construct, cyber law or e-governance? (In other words, should cyber law (legally) govern e-governance or should it be the other round, that is, e-governance should govern cyber law?)

(c) What are the objectives of cyber law (and, for that matter, e-governance law)? Is it protection of life and liberties of a citizen (empowerment of citizen) or empowering the state or regulating the cyberspace?

(d) Is cyberspace not already over-regulated (from the point of view of citizen) via existing legal codes (do we not already have enough legal powers to regulate our behaviour in cyberspace?), software code (your activities in cyberspace are regulated by what the software allows you to do, nothing more nor less), and e-commerce (you will buy only what I offer and you will purchase the way I want you to do, etc.) (Check Lessig’s Code).

(e) Where and how to demarcate a cyber crime from unethical practices in cyberspace (for example, collecting your personal information before allowing you entry to a portal and subsequently misusing this information for sending promotional newsletters, or not providing for unsubscription or unsubscription link just not working, etc.)

(f) What for “generic model laws for building cyber law capacity for e-Governance” needed? What are the concrete instances/cases in which the existing laws have been found inadequate or vague in e-governance in G2G and G2C domains? Is the exercise normative (prescribing what to do) or empirical (finding what is the ground-level reality)?

(g) Should cyber law regulate e-governance policy [European Union (EU) model] or e-governance policy should regulate development of cyber law [US model- see (h)] below? What is our e-governance policy (as distinct from IT/ICT policy)? Are you aware of any e-governance policy as a written commitment for e-governance development in any country?

(h) In contrast with EU model, the U.S., the only country in the world to have done so (to my knowledge, of course), enacted the legislation- The E-government Act of 2002. Which model is better- the EU model or the U.S. model?

Is it not better to check foundations first, and then erect the building, rather than first construct the building and then worry whether our foundations are sound?

Dr D.C.Misra
November 15, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

XIth National Conference on e-Governance, February 7-8, 2008, Panchkula, Haryana

XIth National Conference on e-Governance, February 7-8, 2008, Panchkula, Haryana

Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India has been very successfully organizing a National Conference on E-governance (NCEG) every year. Many serving civil servants and some retired civil servants like me always look forward to this annual event. The DARPG needs to be congratulated for organising the next conference early next year.

The XIth National Conference on e-Governance will be held on
February 7-8, 2008 in
Panchkula, Haryana

in co-operation with the Department of Information Technology, Government of India and Government of Haryana, according to an announcement.

The theme of the conference is:
Integrated Citizen Services – Issues and Challenges.

for details, check the website:

--Dr D.C.Misra
November 10, 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

Accountability of neo-governments

This is an interesting article* on accountability of neo-governments, also called regulators, in India. The authors call them "governments within government" and allege that they are not subject to same level of accountability as the first three branches of government. Calling it a classic case of principal-agent, they describe the existing accountability mechanism for them and find that neo-governments have a more elaborate accountability mechanism in the U.S. They suggest creation of a Department of Neo-governments.

Dr D.C.Misra
October 5, 2007

*Accountability of neo-governments

With the growing reliance on neo-governments for governance, it is important that a holistic approach to building a uniform system of accountability is followed, say C K G Nair & M S Sahoo

NEO-GOVERNMENTS are governments within government and carry out governance on behalf of government in a pre-defined framework. They are epistemically called ‘regulators’ in India as their responsibilities include regulation. They also have other responsibilities, which are traditionally discharged by government. For example, Sebi has the responsibility of protecting investors in securities and developing the securities market, in addition to regulation.

Neo-governments are generally endowed with wider powers and sharper tools than the normal constitutional authorities. They blur the principle of separation of powers and are not subject to the same level of accountability, as the first three branches of government are. Governments continue to be accountable for governance, even if it is carried out through neo-governments — a classic case of the principal-agent problem. In case of exigencies, governments are called upon to explain and carry out rescue operations.

A well-crafted accountability mechanism reduces the ‘agency problem’, though the term ‘accountability’ is a misnomer. Many consider it synonymous with control and less of autonomy. In fact, accountability and autonomy go hand in hand. Higher the level of autonomy, greater the accountability and vice versa. The accountability arrangements for neo-governments, therefore, need to be clearly articulated so that the need for ex post changes in the conditions of the ex ante contracts are minimised for the sake of policy and operational stability. Otherwise, the government, accountable for the performance of neo-governments, may devise ad-hoc arrangements, leading at times to major disconnect with the ex ante contract, which may impinge on the autonomy of neo-governments and create avoidable tension between them.

Current accountability arrangements in India focus mainly on their role as regulators probably because they are so perceived. Through the administrative ministry the neo-governments lay on the table of Parliament subordinate legislation, annual report detailing their activities and performance, and statement of accounts audited by CAG. The departmental standing committees scrutinise their activities while approving their demand for grants or demand for grants of their administrative ministries, as the case may be. They are obliged to carry out the policy directions of government. In the face of substantial, apparent agency problem, the government may reconstitute the neo-governments by following a special procedure and under specified circumstances. Their orders are subject to appeal generally before a tribunal, with provision of judicial review up to the Supreme Court.

Neo-governments in the US are required to consult the stakeholders and public, and reveal the costs and benefits, while making subordinate legislation. The subordinate legislation with important bearings needs to be pre-approved by the Congress. The Government Accountability Office generally assesses the performance of neo-governments in terms of their objectives and efficiency and reports to the Congress. The neo-governments appear before the Congress twice a year and give testimony before the congressional oversight committees as often as required. Their budgets are approved by the Congress. One neo-government, namely, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, has to even justify its continuation every five years before the Congress. The accountability arrangements are well laid out in the UK, where a ‘private limited company’ acts as the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The FSA reports to Parliament through the treasury and the Director General Fair Trading keeps a watch on the conformity of FSA regulatory actions from the sidelines.

THERE are certain standard arrangements for accountability. These include: ex ante accountability such as consultation with public and stakeholders before taking an action; ex post accountability such as reporting actions already taken; explanatory accountability such as disclosure of the rationale of the actions, procedural accountability such as adhering to standards of procedural fairness and transparency; and performance accountability.

The accountability arrangements rest on five main planks: articulation of the responsibilities, objectives and targets against which neo-governments may be held accountable; provision of powers, resources and capacity of neo-governments matching their assigned responsibilities; assignment of the affairs of the neo-governments to competent people who are comfortable with accountability arrangements; identification of stakeholders to whom neo-governments may be accountable; and education of stakeholders about the manner of ensuring accountability.

With the growing reliance on neo-governments for governance, it is important that a holistic approach to building a uniform system of accountability is followed. In order to achieve that, it may be worth creating a new department, say, department of neo-governments, with responsibilities similar to those of the DPEs in respect of PSUs. This department may monitor and review on an ongoing basis the performance of neo-governments vis-à-vis that of others in their peer group within the country and overseas and submit their reports for consideration by Parliament.

Since the administrative ministry is answerable to Parliament, the executive may get structured reports at regular intervals and specific reports as and when warranted. The neo-governments may have opportunity to explain their performance to Parliament and / or a committee of Parliament directly. They may disclose all relevant information to their stakeholders and take their inputs for making laws and their decision making process accessible to public and media. The crux of the issue is to spell out ex ante the mechanism of accountability to the legislature, the executive and to other stakeholders at large and to institutionalise the same so that it does not suffer from subjectivity.

Neo-governments as governance institutions need to follow a ‘benign’ approach of being accountable to the stakeholders in ‘disclosing’ that they are performing their tasks in tune with the objective of their creation. Such accountability arrangements, basically a contracting issue in reducing the agency problem, have to be pre-set to avoid institutional tensions, enhance autonomy and minimise the transaction costs in an increasingly information asymmetric world, the very raison d’etre of institutional innovations.
(The authors are civil servants. Views are personal.)

(Source: Nair, C K G and M S Sahoo (2007): Accountability of neo-governments, The Economic Times, New Delhi, October 5, Friday, p-16,, accessed : October 5, 2007)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Call for Papers-International Digital Government Research Conference (dg.o 2008)

According to information received by me,
The 9th International Digital Government Research Conference (dg.o 2008)
on "Partnerships for Public Innovation" will be held
at Hilton Bonaventure Hotel, Montreal, Canada
on May 18-21, 2008.
It has issued call for papers (CFPs).
Check for details the home page:
General inquiries may be addressed to:

Dr D.C.Misra
October 4, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Road to E-government: The Korean Way

Korea, as is widely known, is strong in IT infrastructure but is it also strong in e-government? This is the central question which the author, Dr Kuk-Hwan Jeong, who was directly involved in e-government development in Korea in its crucial phase of years 2000-2005 has raised. Dr Jeong, currently Senior Research fellow at the Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI), a government-funded IT think tank set up in 1985, was “responsible for vision, strategy, direction, and oversight for e-government” as Director General of Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGHA) and later Assistant Minister in charge e-government issues (2000-2005). He joined KISDI in 2005.

The experience of Korea is, according to the author, of interest in case studies of implementing e-government not only because it is among the group successfully diffusing Internet infrastructure preparing the base for e-government, but because the challenges it faces may be of relevance to other newly informatizing countries (p-15).(emphasis original). Korea’s remarkable success in Broadband Internet adoption, which is among top ten in 2007 at 27.4% (Check InternetWorldStats Broadband Internet Subscribers - World Top 20 Countries), has drawn worldwide attention.

The book consists of seven chapters, a write-up on Korean government in brief describing its structure, an introduction, an appendix and references.

In Chapter 1: Information Revolution and E-government, the author deals with topics like IT revolution and the evolution of information society, deployment of IT revolution, speed of IT revolution and e-government, and IT efforts towards e-government in Korea. He rightly observes “The history of computer invention and commercialization goes back to the early 1950s but it did not impact the everyday life of individuals until early 1980s with the spread of personal computers.” (p-10). Noting that “The eye of IT revolution typhoon is the Internet” (p-11), he admits that predictions of “paperless office” and “cashless economy” have failed to materialize.

In Chapter 2: Backgrounds of Advanced IT Infrastructure, the author describes motivations of IT efforts, notes Internet growth, and describes citizen expectations. The objective of the national computerization project of the late 1980s was, says the author, to take advantage of IT to improve competitiveness in the world market. This again was based on the premise that Korea had missed the industrialization bus in the first half of 20th century and it would be disaster to miss the IT bus now. As a result “IT applications were placed at the centre of national attention.” This led Korea to set up world class IT infrastructure comparable to developed countries like the U.S. and Singapore.

As a result, two-thirds of Koreans had Internet connectivity by end of 2004 (p-19) which received worldwide acclaim in media (The figure stands at 66.5% in 2007).One reason for rapid growth of Internet cited by the author is the growth of ‘Net café’ or ‘PC bang’ from 100 in 1988 to more than 32,000 now. The rapid growth of PC bang industry is in part attributed to the economic crisis of 1977 when many young people lost their jobs. The other reason was government funded Internet classes for the public. Yet another reason cited are two (negative) attributes of Koreans: impatience and love of gambling, which the author finds positive as speed and risk which are required by the changing needs of society in information age.

Every technology creates hype, more powerful the technology, greater the hype. The Internet was the most powerful technology in the last decade of the 20th century. As such this created greatest hype. This raised people’s expectations to unrealistic levels not only in e-commerce, where it was already registering some brilliant successes (Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, Google, etc.) but also in e-government which was, and is, impacting on the people’s lives. Citing and illustrating Gartner's hype cycles, he makes an impassioned but useful plea for management of citizen expectations.

In Chapter 3: Principles of E-government, the theoretical part, the author describes challenges facing government in the Internet era, e-government as a new concept of public administration, government and technology, vision for e-government, emerging stages of e-government, information sharing and government portal. Among these topics, the last two - information sharing and government portal - are particularly noteworthy. The first relates to improvement in internal processes and the second, dependent on the first, is public service delivery. And both of them are serious challenges to e-government practitioners.

The basic idea of information sharing is, says the author, to store information once rather many times, so that citizens and businesses should not be asked by different departments for the same information (pp 41-42).(emphasis supplied). He points out, apparently based on his experience that “the failure of information sharing results from organizational egoism” (p-43). As regards government portal, the author says that “The core idea behind a governmental portal is to aggregate information and services across providing agencies and to create a single point of access to each information and service (p-51) and cites the case of United Kingdom where stand-alone portals are being phased out to converge on two portals – DirectGov and BusinessLink – as primary online entry points.

In Chapter 4: Experience of E-government Initiatives, the author describes the experience of e-government projects like National Basic Infrastructure System (NBIS) started in 1987 and Korea Information Infrastructure (KII), which laid the national optical fibre backbone network. He then describes 11 priority e-government initiatives grouped under 3 categories: I. Upgrade Government Services for Citizens and Businesses (1. Government for Citizens (G4C) System- information for more than 4,000 government services, 2. Social Insurance Integration System- integrates 4 major social insurance systems, 3. Home Tax System (HTS), and 4. Government Electronic Procurement System (GePS), II. Improve the Efficiency of Administration (5. National Finance Information Administration, 6. National Education Information System, 7. Local Government Information System, 8. Personnel Policy Support System, and III. Establish Infrastructure for E-government (9. Electronic Document System, 10. Electronic Authentication System, and 11. BPR for the Integrated Centre of Government-wide Computer Resources-government data centre). These projects were successfully completed by 2002 and the author attributes their success primarily to Presidential support and support by the National Assembly. He then brings his account up to date by describing the Roadmap to E-government (2003-2007), shifting the focus from ‘small government to modernized and reformative government.’ (p-66).

In Chapter 5: Case Studies, Dr Jeong describes a number of instructive cases. In the “Portal System for Citizen Participation,” he candidly notes that “Almost all government agencies have ambitiously opened websites as a channel for citizen participation in policy debates and online polls. But neither the take-up rate nor satisfaction of people is high at the moment.” (p-87). In the case of Information Network Village Project (IVP), which has drawn international attention, the author highlights changes and outcome in remote fishing and farming villages.

In Chapter 6, the author highlights the a number of policy issues like co-ordination and political leadership, funding mechanisms, IT investment and payoffs, and monitoring and evaluation, information resource management and enterprise architecture (EA) and security and protection of private information.

In the last Chapter 7, Future Directions of E-government, the author discusses a number of important issues like promotion of government innovation, encouragement of citizen’s engagement and participation, innovation of information resource management, protection of privacy and system safety, and acceptance of e-government service.

In conclusion, the answer to the central question posed in this book “Is Korea strong in e-government,” shows, despite substantial investment in e-government infrastructure, a number of shortcomings in e-government in Korea like acceptance of the e-government service by the public has been much lower than it should be (p-157). The central lesson which emerges from this valuable work is that investment in information infrastructure is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the success of e-government. A move from techno-centric to citizen-centric e-government will surely help.

Dr Jeong deserves to be complimented for writing this book and make his first-hand experiences in e-government available to others. The contribution becomes all the more creditable as very few people who are directly involved in e-government care to type their experiences on a computer (or to use the corresponding 20th century expression- pick up a pen to write their experiences) for benefit of others, duly reflected in this information-packed work, which is worth reading by e-government practitioners, particularly in developing countries. © Dr D.C.Misra 2007
**Jeong, Kuk-Hwan (2006): E-government: The Road to Innovation: Principles and Experiences in Korea, Seoul, Korea, Gil-Job-E Media, March, xii+197 pp

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gujarat girl to present paper on Indian font recognistion software

This is a good acievement* by a young girl from Gujarat, India. Our congratulations.

Dr D.C.Misra
September 26, 2007


*Gujarat girl to present paper on Indian font recognistion software

Ahmedabad, Sept 25 (PTI) A young computer wiz from Gujarat will present a paper on Indian font recognition softwares at a global conference in the US next month.
Sandhya Sitaraman (20), studying national language processing at an institute in Surat, is the only representative from India invited to present a paper at the forum, which is specially for undergraduate women pursuing careers in computer sciences.

Personal computers and laptops have become an everyday tool for professionals in all walks of life across India for some years now but the lack of adequate font recognition softwares has limited their usage mostly to those who understand English.

Sitaraman is gearing up to overcome this handicap and will present a paper on "Artificial Intelligence Recognition for Indian languages" at the conference at Carnegie Mellon University.

"I was very happy that my paper has been selected and I will be given time to talk about my subject amid such a recognised panel of experts in the computer field," Sitaraman told PTI.

Clearing the air about artificial intelligence (AI), Sitaraman said "Many people have the misconception that AI is all about cyborgs and inserting chips into human beings which is not true. A lot of AI today is just about fields like human computer interaction and natural language processing to make communication smoother to help solve complex problems easily." PTI

(Source:$all/42F2CAA40DC13F41652573610017DA61, accessed : September 26, 2007)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Australia proposes to set up a Government Consultation Blog, Invites feedback

Realising the importance of citizen engagement, the Australian Government has issued Principles for ICT-enabled Citizen Engagement. In a pioneering move now the Australian Government proposes to set up a Government Consultation Blog and has therefore invited comments by December 1, 2007 on “community feedback on how the government can utilise new internet technologies, such as blogs, to better consult with people.” through a discussion paper “Australian Government Consultation Blog Discussion Paper*.” AGIMO envisages consultation blog as “a website that lists consultations and allows people to post responses, comments and feedback against each consultation.” (*AGIMO (Australian Government Information Management Office), Department of Finance and Administration, Australian Government (2007): Australian Government Consultation Blog Discussion Paper, September,, accessed: September 25, 2007)

Dr D.C.Misra
September 25, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Plugging Loopholes: Indain IT Act 2006 may be reviewed

A long over-due step* keeping pace with changing times.

Dr D.C.Misra
September 21, 2007


*Plugging Loopholes: IT Act 2006 may be reviewed

Niranjan Bharati NEW DELHI

CONCERNED over the loopholes indicated by the parliamentary panel in the draft Information Technology (IT) Act 2006, the government is planning to review the whole Act in consultation with the stakeholders. “We are in the process of reviewing the Act and have asked the stakeholders, including the industry and the user groups, to give their feedback on the proposed changes,” a senior official in the department of information technology (DIT) said.

DIT would put the draft Act for public comment once the review process is over, the official said, adding that the department hopes to complete the review by the end of the year. Earlier this month, the parliamentary panel, constituted to look into the proposed changes in the IT Act 2000 (which is in the form of Draft IT Act 2006), had pulled up the DIT for flaws in the proposed amendments.

The panel has mainly indicated flaws in the areas of cyber terrorism and child pornography. “In view of the several manifestations of sexual abuse of children and its loathsome ramifications, the committee desires that the act of grooming the child for sexual relationship through online enticement or distributing/showing pornography or through any online means should also be made a criminal offence,” the panel had said in its report submitted to the parliament.

The report said that the term “cyber terrorism” has not been defined clearly in the proposed Act. It had also said that the present law has a very complex language and the government should form a new law instead of just making changes in the existing laws in the context of the fast changing technology.

“The law pertaining to IT should be self-containing and easily comprehensible to the global village community. Despite the experience gained in about seven years in the administration of the IT law, no effort has been made to bring a new and exclusive legislation,” the standing committee on information technology had said in its report.

(Source: Bharati, Niranjan (2007): Plugging Loopholes: IT Act 2006 may be reviewed, The Economics Times, New Delhi, September 21, Friday, p-6,,
accessed: September 21, 2007)

MP Govt sets up School for Good Governance

It is good to see that the government of Madhya Pradesh has taken this initiative of setting up a School for Good Governance and Policy Analysis.* Some time back the government of Andhra Pradesh had also set up such a school which is functioning. This initiative by the government of Madhya Pradesh, however, raises three important issues.

First, where set up, what is the performance of such school in actual policy formulation and implementation (as distinct from publications, seminars, etc.)? Secondly, when practically every state has a state institute of public administration (SIPA) (by whatever name called), what is the need for setting up another institute with similar if not identical mandate? Will they not work at cross purposes or duplicate efforts? Would it not have been better to revamp SIPA instead rather than set up another institute?

Lastly, would it not have been much better, and still not late for it, if the state government had set up a school for e-governance, for which there is a crying need to-day in every state, indeed even in districts too, with a mandate for policy formulation (can you imagine any policy formulation in year 2007, in the first decade of 21st century, without the help of information and communication technology(ICT)?) and training legislators, civil servants and citizens in ICT?.

Dr D.C.Misra
September 21, 2007

*MP Govt sets up School for Good Governance

Bhopal, Sept. 20 (PTI): Madhya Pradesh government has set up a School for Good Governance and Policy Analysis here to review state policies and its effect on a target group.

"The school will function as an autonomous institution and will be run by the governing body headed by Chief Minister," an official release said on Wednesday.
An executive body will be formed for execution of routine works of the school.
The decision to establish the school was taken by the state Cabinet in June this year, which had fixed Rs five crore as the non-plan limit for 2007-08 for its establishment.

The state government has appointed H P Dixit as the Director General of the school, the release said.

The school will function as a `think tank' in the field of good governance in international and domestic context and will analyse problems regarding governance. It will also prepare an action plan and assist in implementation of the same.
Its works also include compilation and expansion of outstanding activities and skills and `e-governance' programmes, apart from suggestions on reforms in the existing administrative arrangements.

A high-power committee headed by the Chief Secretary will be constituted to finalise the outline and structure, besides sanction of necessary staff for the school. The committee shall be authorised to take final decision in this regard, the release added.

(Source:, accessed : September 21, 2007)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Misra,D.C.(2007): Can we standardise spelling of e-government terms?

There appears to be a free-for-all environment for spelling the frequently used terms in e-government according to one's fancy including spelling acronyms and abbreviations (eGov: Isn't it cute? Yes, it is. But what does it mean? E-governance or e-government or, much worse, both). This does not befit a fast developing practice and a discipline too. Moreover, a spelling may have profound meaning and a term spelt in two different ways may have two entirely different meanings as is the case, say, with "World Wide Web" and "WorldWideWeb" (one word) or may have governance implications as is the case with "Internet" and "internet."
Three rules could be proposed here: Rule 1. Spell these words the way you like and stick to them. (The down side of this rule is present confusion in spelling e-government terms. The up side is that it has preferred consistency in usage).Rule 2: Never, ever, spell a term differently in the same text or in the same organization, community of practice (COP), etc. (This requires issue of a note of practice, if not standardization of terminology). Rule 3: Develop a reason-based, unambiguous spelling of e-government terms and actively promote their usage.
Illustration to Rule 3: Electronic government are two words. If we wish to contract them, a hyphen is required to be placed between them making electronic-government one word. However, since this one word is also long, defeating the very purpose of the exercise, it requires further contraction. Since "e" as a substitute for "electronic" is widely understood, the word can be contracted to e-government. But this word cannot be further contracted satisfactorily. For example, if it is contracted to e-gov, it makes the meaning ambiguous- does it stand for e-governance, e-government, e-govern or indeed some thing else? As such the proposed spelling is e-government (or E-government at the beginning of a sentence), which requires to be consistently promoted.
"Internet" or "internet"?
"Internet" (with upper case "I") is a network of networks which hosts the World Wide Web which is surfed by us day in, day out. Internet is unique. While "internet" is non-existent entity so far except that some writers have started using the term "internet" for "Internet" (perhaps under the (mistaken) impression that it should be so spelt because it has become commonplace like telephony or electricity). There is however a deeper significance in the difference in spellings. Shannon in International Herald Tribune reports that with "internet" (with lower case "i") International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, wants to lower-case the word Internet as a matter of official policy so that it could take over the governance of Internet (Shannon, Victoria (2006): What's in an 'i'? Internet governance: UN agency reconsiders its role as countries jockey for influence in industry, International Herald Tribune, December 3,].She reports that some of the 2,100 participants at the union's highest-level strategy meeting, which convened for three weeks in November 2006 in Antalya, Turkey, "saw the move as the latest in a long-running effort by the organization to control the Internet, this time through a subtle yet symbolic imprint on the most powerful communications and commercial tool of the 21st century." Yoshio Utsumi, who turns over his office as secretary general of the agency to Touré in January, had called the Internet a "utility" to be managed for the public good.
"World Wide Web," "world wide web" or "WorldWideWeb"?
Since the "World Wide Web," the universe of information over the Internet, like the Internet, is unique, it should be spelled as "World Wide Web" and not as "world wide web." More importantly, the three words "World Wide Web" should not be combined to make word "WorldWideWeb" as this (one word) was the first Web client, a browser-editor written in 1990 that ran on a Next machine. According to Tim-Berners Lee, the inventor of World Wide Web, "Much later it was renamed Nexus in order to save confusion between the program and the abstract information space (which is now spelled World Wide Web with spaces)." (The WorldWideWeb Browser,
Other E-words
Other e-words could be added. A beginning has to be made some where. Any view on the issue?

Dr D.C.Misra
May 21, 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Misra, D.C.(2007): Defining e-government: a citizen-centric criteria-based approach

This is a paper I contributed to E-governance Compendium 2007, brought out by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) on the occasion of 10th National Conference on e-Governance, February 2-3, 2007, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, under the theme: avant-garde issues in e-governance. I did not attend the conference. The paper can be downloaded from the Files section of the group:

The paper examines the concept of e-government, highlights a levels-of-perspective definition of e-government and advocates a citizen-centric criteria-based approach to e-government operationalised by a comprehensive e-business plan as distinct from current piecemeal approaches to e-government characterised by free-standing e-government projects.

Dr D.C.Misra
February 4, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Varney Report on Service Transformation in United Kingdom

This is a report* by Sir David Varney, who has extensive experience in private sector, on service transformation in United Kingdom. Since 1997 the Government in United Kingdom has undertaken a comprehensive programme of public service reform. Compared to 1997, notes the report, “the government is now providing more services online or through comprehensive telephone contact centres—allowing citizens and businesses improved ways to access government. Access to NHS Direct Online has grown by 74 per cent comparing this year to the last. In transport, citizens can now apply via the Internet for provisional driving licences and vehicle registration at any time. By the end of September 2006, 3.7 million motorists had renewed their car tax online.” This report “focuses on the opportunities for change in the channels through which services are delivered to citizens and businesses. Over the next ten years, there is an opportunity to provide better public services for citizens and businesses and to do so at a lower cost to the taxpayer.”

Dr D.C.Misra
January 26, 2007
*Varney, Sir David (2006): Service transformation: A better service for citizens and businesses ,a better deal for the taxpayer, London, The Stationery Office (TSO), December, available:

Monday, January 15, 2007

Misra, D.C. (2007): Ten Guiding Principles for Knowledge Management in E-government

This is a paper I presented on January 12, 2007 in First International Conference on Knowledge Management for Productivity and Competitiveness organised by National Productivity Council on January 11-12, 2007, New Delhi. It advocates preparation of a knowledge management (KM) sub-plan in e-government plan. It will be of interest to those who wish to introduce KnowledgeManagement (KM) in E-government. The paper is available at the link.

Dr D.C.Misra
January 15, 2007