This was my third ICEGOV meeting and I can tell you I felt lots of deja vu.
In the interim, UNU’s e-government unit has moved from Macao to the beautiful city of Guimaraes, Portugal, which the Portuguese call “the city where Portuguese culture was born”. Indeed, they have secured solid institutional support from the Government of Portugal.
This time around I was invited as co-chair of one of the 6 thematic sessions ICTGOV had this time around. The session was entitled e-governance and Sustainable Development and was essentially comprised on three sub-sessions, each taking place a different day. The first session was an overall introduction to the subject. The second was the paper session where selected papers previously reviewed and approved by UNU were presented. And the last one summarized the proceedings and furnished recommendations for the future – and the next ICEGOV which, by the way, will take place in Tunisia. I made presentations in all three of these sub-sessions.
I was also invited to be in a panel chaired by the WB representative on e-governance, more trust or conflict?, a title I quite did not understand. I surprised both panellists and audience by stating in my opening that traditional e-government had been a complete failure and we thus needed to move beyond.
ICEGOV has already built both a brand and network of academics and practitioners who now meet regularly. So I was not surprised to see many of the same faces since my last ICEGOV 2010 in Beijing. One of the main issues with ICEGOV is the fact that each of the annual meetings is totally independent. In other words, it seems to have no institutional memory and one can easily missed a few of them and still feel at home. Not sure what this does to the sock on knowledge on e-governance.
With this in mind, during the closing remarks of my thematic session I made a series of recommendations to ensure the next ICEGOV shows some continuity. They are included in this presentation, which I shared with the audience.