Since the dawn of the new Millennium we have seen rapid changes in the ICT environment where mobiles and mobility are explicit trendsetters. The same can be said about the use and deployment of ICTs in the public sector. We started with e-government and then moved to e-governance a few years later -we can also replace the e with the m and get similar concepts. Nowadays we all speak about Open Government and its derivatives. And in this evolution participation and empowerment of stakeholders and citizens are taking center stage.
Being that as is may -and regardless of naming conventions and tech revolutions, the core issue form many developing countries is the actual and successful implementation of these initiatives. Based on UNDP’s 20 years plus experience on ICT for Development and e-governance, here are 10 steps that can help maximize bang for the buck for public investments on ICTs.
- Focus on development, not ICTs. ICTs are means to an end and can enable development. They are also a catalyst in transforming and bringing innovations to the way governments operate, deliver services and engage with stakeholders; and also in the way we can interact with public institutions – as well as with each other.
- Link the overall approach and intended outcomes to existing development priorities, local, national and/or international. Avoid adding new priority areas as this can lead to a lack of buy-in by key stakeholders, internal competition for resources and insurmountable bottlenecks.
- Ensure the overall approach is people/citizen-centered, and planned outcomes aim at improving the quality of life for all in the medium and long terms. Results must be tangible and of visible impact on stakeholders.
- Foster transparency and accountability of public institutions in both internal operations and service delivery, in addition to the more traditional targets of efficiency and effectiveness,
- Build bridges between government and the people who working together can strive to improve development outcomes using ICTs, old and new. New technologies give voice to stakeholders who can then liaise with government counterparts on policy design and programme implementation, especially at the local level. Political will is needed to make this happen, not only ICTs (or crowdsourcing).
- Involve from the very start all critical institutions and players in the public sector, including local governments, as well as civil society and the private sector. Creating and spreading ownership of the overall process is vital for long term success. Governance mechanisms to support this process must be designed and launched and managed impartially.
- Ensure adequate institutional mechanisms that facilitate e-governance policy development and programme implementation are in place. Mechanisms should be able to agglutinate key ministries to work in coordinated fashion and also involve non-state actors.
- Design and develop clear implementation priority areas which can define the early entry points, including quick strategic wins. Prioritization process should be done openly and include the involvement of stakeholders from all sectors.
- Be fully aware of all ongoing initiatives, the current status of ICT deployment in the public sector, the levels of existing skills/internal capacities and critical business processes in public institutions that need rapid overhaul and change. Go beyond the typical e-readiness assessment and include capacity assessments and institutional factors in the equation.
- Measuring progress and impact is essential. Have in hand adequate benchmarks, baselines, and indicators. Go beyond traditional ICT access indicators and include soft indicators on service delivery, transparency, e-participation, etc. Make use of open data and big data too!