Electronic governance or e-governance is the application of information and communication technology (ICT) for delivering government services, exchange of information, communication transactions, integration of various stand-alone systems and services between government-to-citizen (G2C), government-to-business (G2B), government-to-government (G2G) , government-to-employees (G2E) as well as back office processes and interactions within the entire government framework. Through e-governance, government services will be made available to citizens in a convenient, efficient and transparent manner. The three main target groups that can be distinguished in governance concepts are government, citizens and businesses/interest groups. In e-governance there are no distinct boundaries.
Generally four basic models are available – government-to-citizen (customer), government-to-employees, government-to-government and government-to-business.
Distinction from e-government
Main article: E-government
Both terms are treated to be the same; however, there is a difference between the two. "E-government" is the use of the ICTs in public administration – combined with organizational change and new skills – to improve public services and democratic processes and to strengthen support to public. The problem in this definition to be congruence definition of e-governance is that there is no provision for governance of ICTs. As a matter of fact, the governance of ICTs requires most probably a substantial increase in regulation and policy-making capabilities, with all the expertise and opinion-shaping processes along the various social stakeholders of these concerns. So, the perspective of the e-governance is "the use of the technologies that both help governing and have to be governed". The public–private partnership (PPP)-based e-governance projects are hugely successful in India.
Many countries are looking forward to a corruption-free government. E-government is one-way communication protocol whereas e-governance is two-way communication protocol. The essence of e-governance is to reach the beneficiary and ensure that the services intended to reach the desired individual has been met with. There should be an auto-response to support the essence of e-governance, whereby the Government realizes the efficacy of its governance. E-governance is by the governed, for the governed and of the governed.
Establishing the identity of the end beneficiary is a challenge in all citizen-centric services. Statistical information published by governments and world bodies does not always reveal the facts. The best form of e-governance cuts down on unwanted interference of too many layers while delivering governmental services. It depends on good infrastructural setup with the support of local processes and parameters for governments to reach their citizens or end beneficiaries. Budget for planning, development and growth can be derived from well laid out e-governance systems
Government to citizen
The goal of government-to-citizen (G2C) e-governance is to offer a variety of ICT services to citizens in an efficient and economical manner, and to strengthen the relationship between government and citizens using technology.
There are several methods of government-to-customer e-governance. Two-way communication allows citizens to instant message directly with public administrators, and cast remote electronic votes (electronic voting) and instant opinion voting. Transactions such as payment of services, such as city utilities, can be completed online or over the phone. Mundane services such as name or address changes, applying for services or grants, or transferring existing services are more convenient and no longer have to be completed face to face.
G2C e-Governance is unbalanced across the globe as not everyone has Internet access and computing skills, but the United States, European Union, and Asia are ranked the top three in development.
The Federal Government of the United States has a broad framework of G2C technology to enhance citizen access to Government information and services. Benefits.Gov is an official US government website that informs citizens of benefits they are eligible for and provides information of how to apply assistance. US State Governments also engage in G2C interaction through the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, United States Department of Health and Human Services, United States Department of Education, and others. As with e-Governance on the global level, G2C services vary from state to state. The Digital States Survey ranks states on social measures, digital democracy, e-commerce, taxation, and revenue. The 2012 report shows Michigan and Utah in the lead and Florida and Idaho with the lowest scores. Municipal governments in the United States also use government-to-customer technology to complete transactions and inform the public. Much like states, cities are awarded for innovative technology. Government Technology's "Best of the Web 2012" named Louissville, KY, Arvada, CO, Raleigh, NC, Riverside, CA, and Austin, TX the top five G2C city portals.
European countries were ranked second among all geographic regions. The Single Point of Access for Citizens of Europe supports travel within Europe and eEurope is a 1999 initiative supporting online government. Main focuses are to provide public information, allow customers to have access to basic public services, simplify online procedures, and promote electronic signatures.
Asia is ranked third in comparison, and there are diverse G2C programs between countries. Singapore's eCitizen Portal is an organized single access point to government information and services. South Korea's Home Tax Service (HTS) provides citizens with 24/7 online services such as tax declaration. Taiwan has top ranking G2C technology including an online motor vehicle services system, which provides 21 applications and payment services to citizens.
Government-to-Citizen is the communication link between a government and private individuals or residents. Such G2C communication most often refers to that which takes place through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), but can also include direct mail and media campaigns. G2C can take place at the federal, state, and local levels. G2C stands in contrast to G2B, or Government-to-Business networks.
One such Federal G2C network is USA.gov: the United States' official web portal, though there are many other examples from governments around the world.
A full switch to government-to-customer e-governance will cost a large amount of money in development and implementation. In addition, Government agencies do not always engage citizens in the development of their e-Gov services or accept feedback. Customers identified the following barriers to government-to-customer e-governance: not everyone has Internet access, especially in rural or low income areas, G2C technology can be problematic for citizens who lack computing skills. some G2C sites have technology requirements (such as browser requirements and plug-ins) that won't allow access to certain services, language barriers, the necessity for an e-mail address to access certain services, and a lack of privacy.
Government to employees
"G2E" redirects here. For gaming trade show, see Global Gaming Expo.
E-Governance to Employee partnership (G2E) Is one of four main primary interactions in the delivery model of E-Governance. It is the relationship between online tools, sources, and articles that help employees maintain communication with the government and their own companies. E-Governance relationship with Employees allows new learning technology in one simple place as the computer. Documents can now be stored and shared with other colleagues online. E-governance makes it possible for employees to become paperless and makes it easy for employees to send important documents back and forth to colleagues all over the world instead of having to print out these records or faxG2E services also include software for maintaining personal information and records of employees. Some of the benefits of G2E expansion include:
- E-payroll – maintaining the online sources to view paychecks, pay stubs, pay bills, and keep records for tax information.
- E-benefits – be able to look up what benefits an employee is receiving and what benefits they have a right to.
- E-training – allows for new and current employees to regularly maintain the training they have through the development of new technology and to allow new employees to train and learn over new materials in one convenient location. E-learning is another way to keep employees informed on the important materials they need to know through the use of visuals, animation, videos, etc. It is usually a computer-based learning tool, although not always. It is also a way for employees to learn at their own pace (distance learning), although it can be instructor-led.
- Maintaining records of personal information – Allows the system to keep all records in one easy location to update with every single bit of information that is relevant to a personal file. Examples being social security numbers, tax information, current address, and other information
Government-to-employees (abbreviated G2E) is the online interactions through instantaneous communication tools between government units and their employees. G2E is one out of the four primary delivery models of e-Government.
G2E is an effective way to provide e-learning to the employees, bring them together and to promote knowledge sharing among them. It also gives employees the possibility of accessing information in regard to compensation and benefit policies, training and learning opportunities and civil rights laws. G2E services also includes software for maintaining personnel information and records of employees.
G2E is adopted in many countries including the United States, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
Government to government
From the start of 1990s e-commerce and e-product, there has rampant integration of e-forms of government process. Governments have now tried to use their efficiencies of their techniques to cut down on waste. E-government is a fairly broad subject matter, but all relate to how the services and representation are now delivered and how they are now being implemented.
Many governments around the world have gradually turned to Information technologies (IT) in an effort to keep up with today's demands. Historically, many governments in this sphere have only been reactive but up until recently there has been a more proactive approach in developing comparable services such things as e-commerce and e-business.
Before, the structure emulated private-like business techniques. Recently that has all changed as e-government begins to make its own plan. Not only does e-government introduce a new form of record keeping, it also continues to become more interactive to better the process of delivering services and promoting constituency participation.
The framework of such organization is now expected to increase more than ever by becoming efficient and reducing the time it takes to complete an objective. Some examples include paying utilities, tickets, and applying for permits. So far, the biggest concern is accessibility to Internet technologies for the average citizen. In an effort to help, administrations are now trying to aid those who do not have the skills to fully participate in this new medium of governance, especially now as e-government progressing to more e-governance terms
An overhaul of structure is now required as every pre-existing sub-entity must now merge under one concept of e- government. As a result, Public Policy has also seen changes due to the emerging of constituent participation and the Internet. Many governments such as Canada's have begun to invest in developing new mediums of communication of issues and information through virtual communication and participation. In practice this has led to several responses and adaptations by interest groups, activist, and lobbying groups. This new medium has changed the way the polis interacts with government.
The purpose to include e-governance to government is to means more efficient in various aspects. Whether it means to reduce cost by reducing paper clutter, staffing cost, or communicating with private citizens or public government. E-government brings many advantages into play such as facilitating information delivery, application process/renewal between both business and private citizen, and participation with constituency. There are both internal and external advantages to the emergence of IT in government, though not all municipalities are alike in size and participation.
In theory, there are currently 4 major levels of E-government in municipal governments:
- the establishment of a secure and cooperative interaction among governmental agencies;
- Web-based service delivery;
- the application of e-commerce for more efficient government transactions activities,;
- and digital democracy.
These, along with 5 degrees of technical integration and interaction of users include:
- simple information dissemination (one-way communication);
- two- way communication (request and response);
- service and financial transactions;
- integration (horizontal and vertical integration);
- political participation
The adoption of e-government in municipalities evokes greater innovation in e- governance by being specialized and localized. The level success and feedback depends greatly on the city size and government type. A council-manager government municipality typically works the best with this method, as opposed to mayor-council government positions, which tend to be more political. Therefore, they have greater barriers towards its application. Council-Manager governments are also more inclined to be effective here by bringing innovation and reinvention of governance to e- governance.
The International City/County Management Association and Public Technology Inc. have done surveys over the effectiveness of this method. The results are indicating that most governments are still in either the primary stages (1 or stage 2), which revolves around public service requests. Though application of integration is now accelerating, there has been little to no instigating research to see its progression as e-governance to government. We can only theorize it's still within the primitive stages of e-governance.
Government-to-Government (abbreviated G2G) is the online non-commercial interaction between Government organisations, departments, and authorities and other Government organisations, departments, and authorities. Its use is common in the UK, along with G2C, the online non-commercial interaction of local and central Government and private individuals, and G2B the online non-commercial interaction of local and central Government and the commercial business sector.
G2G systems generally come in one of two types: Internal facing - joining up a single Governments departments, agencies, organisations and authorities - examples include the integration aspect of the Government Gateway, and the UK NHS Connecting for HealthData SPINE. External facing - joining up multiple Governments IS systems - an example would include the integration aspect of the Schengen Information System (SIS), developed to meet the requirements of the Schengen Agreement.
The strategic objective of e-governance, or in this case G2G is to support and simplify governance for government, citizens and businesses. The use of ICT can connect all parties and support processes and activities. Other objectives are to make government administration more transparent, speedy and accountable, while addressing the society's needs and expectations through efficient public services and effective interaction between the people, businesses and government.
Within every of those interaction domains, four sorts of activities take place:
Pushing data over the internet, e.g.: regulative services, general holidays, public hearing schedules, issue briefs, notifications, etc. two-way communications between one governmental department and another, users will interact in dialogue with agencies and post issues, comments, or requests to the agency. Conducting transactions, e.g.: Lodging tax returns, applying for services and grants. Governance, e.g.: To alter the national transition from passive info access to individual participation by:
- Informing the individual
- Representing an individual
- Consulting an individual
- Involving the individual
Internal G2G (UK)
In the field of networking, the Government Secure Intranet (GSI) puts in place a secure link between central government departments. It is an IP-based virtual private network based on broadband technology introduced in April 1998 and further upgraded in February 2004. Among other things it offers a variety of advanced services including file transfer and search facilities, directory services, email exchange facilities (both between network members and over the Internet) as well as voice and video services. An additional network is currently also under development: the Public Sector Network (PSN) will be the network to interconnect public authorities (including departments and agencies in England; devolved administrations and local governments) and facilitate in particular sharing of information and services among each other.
Government to business
"G2B" redirects here. For the scientific journal, see Genes, Brain and Behavior.
Government-to-Business (G2B) is the online non-commercial interaction between local and central government and the commercial business sector with the purpose of providing businesses information and advice on e-business 'best practices'. G2B:Refers to the conduction through the Internet between government agencies and trading companies. B2G:Professional transactions between the company and the district, city, or federal regulatory agencies. B2G usually include recommendations to complete the measurement and evaluation of books and contracts.
The objective of G2B is to reduce difficulties for business, provide immediate information and enable digital communication by e-business (XML). In addition, the government should re-use the data in the report proper, and take advantage of commercial electronic transaction protocol. Government services are concentrated to the following groups: human services; community services; judicial services; transport services; land resources; business services; financial services and other. Each of the components listed above for each cluster of related services to the enterprise.
Benefits for business
E-government reduces costs and lowers the barrier of allowing companies to interact with the government. The interaction between the government and businesses reduces the time required for businesses to conduct a transaction. For instance, there is no need to commute to a government agency's office, and transactions may be conducted online instantly with the click of a mouse. This significantly reduces transaction time for the government and businesses alike.
E-Government provides a greater amount of information that business needed, also it makes those information more clear. A key factor in business success is the ability to plan for the future. Planning and forecasting through data-driven future. The government collected a lot of economic, demographic and other trends in the data. This makes the data more accessible to companies which may increase the chance of economic prosperity.
In addition, E-Government can help businesses navigate through government regulations by providing an intuitive site organization with a wealth of useful applications. The electronic filings of applications for environmental permits gives an example of it. Companies often do not know how, when, and what they must apply. Therefore, failure to comply with environmental regulations up to 70%, a staggering figure most likely to confusion about the requirements, rather than the product of willful disregard of the law.
The government should concern that not all people are able to access the internet to gain on-line government services. The network reliability, as well as information on government bodies can influence public opinion and prejudice hiden agenda. There are many considerations and implementation, designing e-government, including the potential impact of government and citizens of disintermediation, the impact on economic, social and political factors, vulnerable to cyber attacks, and disturbances to the status quo in these areas.
G2B rises the connection between government and businesses. Once the e-government began to develop, become more sophisticated, people will be forced to interact with e-government in the larger area. This may result in a lack of privacy for businesses as their government get their more and more information. In the worst case, there is so much information in the electron transfer between the government and business, a system which is like totalitarian could be developed. As government can access more information, the loss privacy could be a cost.
The government site does not consider about "potential to reach many users including those who live in remote areas, are homebound, have low literacy levels, exist on poverty line incomes."
- e-Tender Box (ETB) system – ETB system was developed by Government Logistics Department (GLD) to replace Electronic Tendering System. Users can use ETB system to download the resources and gain the service from the GLD.
- e-Procurement Programme – e-Procurement Programme provide a simple, convenient on-line ways for suppliers of the participating bureaux/departments (B/Ds) and suppliers of Government Logistics Department and agree to provide the low-valued goods and service.
- Finance and support for your business – UK Government provide the on-line financial help for business, including grants, loans, business guide; what's more, it also offer the funding for the sunrise businesses (just start) or small-scale firms.
The Main Goal of Government to Business – is to increase productivity by giving business more access to information in a more organize manner while lowering the cost of doing business as well as the ability to cut "red tape", save time, reduce operational cost and to create a more transparent business environment when dealing with government.
- Lowering cost of doing business – electronic transaction save time compared to conducting business in person.
- Cutting red tape – rules and regulation placed upon business normally take time and are most likely to cause a delay- in (G2B) will allow a much faster process with less delays and decreasing the number of rules and regulations
- Transparency – More information will be available, making G2B easier to communicate.
Government to business key points:
- Reduce the burden on business by adopting a process that enables collecting data once for multiple uses and streamlining redundant data.
- Key lines of business: regulations, economic development, trade, permits/licenses, grants/loans, and asset management.
Difference between G2B and B2G
- Government to business (G2B) – Refers to the conducting of transactions between government bodies and business via internet.
- Business to government (B2G) – Professional affairs conducted between companies and regional, municipal, or federal governing bodies. B2G typically encompasses the determination and evaluation of proposal and completion of contract.
The overall benefit of e-governance when dealing with business is that it enables business to perform more efficiently.
Challenges – international position
E-governance is facing numerous challenges world over. These challenges are arising from administrative, legal, institutional and technological factors.
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E-Governance and Its Implementation Challenges
in the Nigerian Public Service
Ugochukwu David ABASILIM1, Lawrence I. EDET2
Abstract: E-governance has become one of the reform tools geared towards effective public service delivery, which is premised on the assumption that the appreciable use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) method in the day to day activities of government will bring effective service delivery. However, there are lots of challenges that hamper the effective implementation of e-governance in Nigerian public service. It is based on this, that this article identifies some of the challenges to e-governance implementation in Nigerian public service. Although, no robust statistical analysis was done, as the article relied on archival analysis of relevant literature on the subject matter and inferences drawn from it. Based on its findings, it was concluded that e-governance remain the best in encouraging transparency and accountability in government business.The paper therefore, recommends that, government should be more committed to the implementation e-governance as well as embark on adequate enlightenment about the concept.
Keywords: accountability; information and communication technologies (ICT); service delivery; transparency
The importance and impact of e-governance on public service delivery cannot be over emphasized, nor can it be down played. In fact, the benefit of e-governance to the operation of Nigeria’s public service is not in doubt. E-governance in Nigeria can be traced to the formulation of the Nigerian National Information Technology (NNIT) policy in the year 2000. The essence of the policy was to make Nigeria an Information Technology (IT) capable country in Africa and a key player in the information society and also use IT for education; creation of wealth; poverty eradication; job creation; governance; health; agriculture (NITP, 2000).
Despite the lofty ideas and aims of the policy which were geared towards ensuring that public sector organisations provide an expanded range of services to citizens in a manner that is systematic and cost effective leveraging on the adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in its day to day activities. However, the public sector organisations seem not to fare well in the implementation of e-governance in their services consequent upon some challenges faced by the public sector, which if not tackled will make the adoption of e-governance a mirage. Some of the challenges identified are lack of IT infrastructure; epileptic power/electricity supply; lack of trained and qualified personnel, the resistance to change attitude by most public servants and so on (Gberevbie; Ayo; Iyoha; Duruji & Abasilim, 2015; Olaopa, 2014; Bansode & Patil, 2011; Okwueze, 2010; Abdel-Fattah & Galal-Edeen, 2008; Ayo & Ekong, 2008 and Dode, 2007).
It is based on this that the main thrust of this paper is advanced. The main objective of this paper is to identify the challenges facing e-governance implementation in Nigeria’s public service and suggest ways in which these challenges can be taken care of if e-governance implementation must be realized in Nigeria’s public service. This paper is subdivided into four sections. The first section present a brief background on the emergence of e-governance. The second dwells on the conceptual clarification of e-governance and public service. The third section deals with the identification of the challenges to e-governance implementation in Nigeria’s public service. While in the fourth section, recommendations and conclusion are made.
2. Conceptual Clarifications
The concepts of e-governance and public service are explained in this section.
2.1. Understanding E-Governance
The concept e-governance has been broadly defined especially as it relates to the public sector. In fact, researchers vary in their definitions of the concept, thereby presenting diverse definitions of what e-governance is all about (Shilubane, 2001; Budhiraja, 2003; Ojo, 2014). According to Shilubane (2001), e-governance is simply the use of information communication technologies (ICTs) to carry out public services, that is to say, the use of the internet to ensure that services are delivered in a much more convenient, customer oriented and cost effective manner. Budhiraja (2003) defines e-governance as the application of Information Technology to the process of government functioning in order to achieve a Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent (SMART) Governance.
In a similar vein, Ojo (2014, p. 79) also sees e-governance as “the application of information communication technology (ICT) by the government to enhance accountability, create awareness and ensures transparency in the management of governmental business.” He also states that e-governance can be seen as a political strategy of government through which their activities can be showcased to the public. Ayo (2014, p. 76) defined e-governance as “the governing of a state/country using ICT.” Meaning that, e-governance is the application of ICT in executing government businesses. From the definitions so far, it can be deduced that e-governance is simply the use of ICTs in the operations of government businesses, put in another way, it is the shift from the traditional method of carrying out government activities which is mainly hierarchical, linear, and one-way to the use of internet which enables the public seek information at their own convenience and not really having to visit the office in person or when government office is open.
However, the major objectives of e-governance are to improve government processes (e-administration), connect citizens (e-citizens and e-services) and build external interactions (e-society) (Heeks, 2001). Despite these objectives, Godse& Garg (2009) stressed the fact that there are numerous factors to be considered in e-governance implementation. According to them, “making and implementing decisions, proper leadership, putting in place organizational arrangements, ensuring resources and funding, establishing accountability and measuring success, telecommunications network, internal agency systems, cross-government systems, service delivery network access points, internet access and skilled staff, better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information and more efficient government management” are the factors that must be taken into consideration for the success of e-governance implementation (Godse& Garg, 2009, p. 15). It is worthy of note that e-governance “is not only the computerization of a government system, but a belief in the ability of technology to achieve high levels of improvement in various areas of government, thus transforming the nature of politics and the relations between governments and citizens” (Dada, 2006, p. 1).
E-governance can also be understood by contrasting it with e-government. Although often used interchangeably by various authors and scholars (Kabir and Baniamin, 2011) but these concepts are not the same. The former in the public sector is considered to be a broader, while e-government is a subset of e-governance (UNESCO, 2007). Supporting this view, Ayo (2014, pp. 76-77) sees e-governance as “the application of ICT to transform the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of exchange of information and transaction; with the objective of providing a SMARRT Government. The acronym SMARRT refers to Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive, Responsible and Transparent government.” While Grant & Chau (2006) defines e-government as broad-based initiatives that leverage on the capabilities of ICT to deliver high quality, seamless and integrated public services; enable effective constituent relationship management; and support the economic and social development goals of citizens, business, and civil society at local, state, national and international levels.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) also stated that, e-governance is a wider concept that defines and accesses the impacts of technologies on the administration and practices of governments. It also looks at the relationships that exist between public servants and the wider society. While e-government deals with the development of online government services to the citizen and businesses such as e-tax, e-transportation, e-procurement, e-participation amongst others and this is termed to be narrow in discipline.
Another distinction is that E-Governance is the application of electronic means in the interaction between government and citizens, government and businesses, as well as internal government operations to simplify and improve democratic government and business aspects of governance (Backus, 2003). While e-government is simply about the transformation, delivering services effectively and seamlessly, developing new forms of communication between government and the governed, and enhancing quality of lives through economic development and enhancing civil society (Worrall, 2011). In the words of Ayo (2014, p. 77), e-government is about “increasing transparency, sharpening accountability, increased scrutiny, taking out hierarchies, changing working practices, changing cultures, changing behaviours and about radically changing power structure by making power more diffused and less concentrated among a small political and administrative elite.”
E-government has been seen to have four primary delivery tracks namely: Government-to-Citizen or Government-to-Customer (G2C); Government-to-Business (G2B); Government-to-Government (G2G); and Government-to-Employee (G2E) (Adeyemo, 2011). This delivery tracks are also known as the models of e-governance, which refer to the interaction that exist between and among government, citizens, business, employees and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) respectively (Ayo, 2009 and Rabaiah & Vandijct, 2011). Flowing from the distinctions made, both concepts share some characteristics. They both depend on the application of information technology to achieve their aims and objectives with a view to ensuring effective, efficient, transparent, accountable service delivery among others from government establishment or the public service.
2.2. Public Service Defined
The concept of public service differs from country to country, but in this case, the concern is what it is in Nigeria. Section 318 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended defines the public service as “the service of the Federation in any capacity in respect of the Government of the Federation” and includes Service as:
clerk or other Staff of the National Assembly or of each House of the National Assembly;
member of Staff of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court, the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, the Sharia Court of Appeal of FCT, the Customary Court of Appeal of FCT or other courts established for the Federation by this Constitution and by Act of the National Assembly;
member or Staff of any Commission or authority established for the Federation by this Constitution or by an Act of the National Assembly;
staff of any area Council;
staff of any Statutory Corporation established by an Act of the National Assembly;
staff of any educational institution established or financed principally by the Government of the Federation;
staff of any company or enterprises in which the Government of the Federation or its agency owns controlling shares or interest;
members or officers of the armed forces of the Federation or the Nigeria Police Force or other government security agencies established by law.
In a clearer view, Agba, Ochimana and Abubakar (2013, p. 113) see public service as “the activities of government employees and institutions aimed at formulating and implementing governmental policies and programmes for the interests of the masses (public).” However, the concept of public service is often used interchangeably with the term civil service but the fact remains that they are two unique concept, though with some similarities. According to Adamolekun (2002, pp. 17–18) cited in Ibietan (2013:56), public service “usually indicates a wider scope than the civil service (and)... means the totality of services that are organized under public (i.e. government) authority.” It covers ministries, departments and agencies of the central government, its field administration, local government, the military, other security forces and the judiciary. This is a broader conceptualization and it is in line with the constitutional definition of the terms and the distinction between them. Civil Service refers to “the body of permanent officials appointed to assist the political executive in formulating and implementing government policies” (Ibietan, 2013, p. 56). The similarities they both share is that they are machinery of government saddled with the responsibility of implementing governmental policies, that is carrying out the day-to-day duties that public administration demand (Adebayo, 2000). It is imperative to state that public service encompasses the civil service or put differently is broader than civil service. Public service has to do with the totality of services that are organized under government (Ezeani, 2006).
3. Challenges to E-Governance Implementation in the Nigerian Public Service
A lot have been said as regards the benefits of the implementation of e-governance in Nigeria or what it has to offer. Scholars have mentioned that when e-governance is implemented, there will be accountability, awareness and transparency in the management of governmental business will be ensured (Ojo, 2014, p. 79). While Budhiraja (2003) opines that the implementation will bring about Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent (SMART) governance. In addition, it is believed that it will also achieve an efficient, speedy and transparent process of disseminating information to the public and other agencies, enhance the performance of administrative activities both internally and externally and also enhance good governance (UNESCO, 2007). Unfortunately, this is not the case in Nigeria. However, we are not ruling out the tendencies of any challenge that will be peculiar to any policy of government but we are of the view that there are things that must be taken care of before we expect so much from the policy of e-governance in Nigeria public service. This is also in line with the assertion of Dode (2007, p. 382) thus:
The e-governance practice is bound to meet with strong opposition from the bureaucratic quarters of the policy. By this, we mean the over-bloated public service whose members will analyze this practice as a deliberate attempt by the government to throw majority of their members out of their jobs. Majority of the public servants are thus, likely to use their positions to frustrate the effective application of e-governance in Nigeria. They will definitely dislike a system that will reduce to the minimum, face to face contact between citizens and government service providers.
By implication however, the e-governance implementation in the Nigerian public service is accompanied with many challenges. According to Abdel-Fattah and Galal-Edeen (2008), the major challenge of e-governance in the Nigerian public service is lack of trained and qualified personnel to handle and operate its infrastructures. They further state that due to the high cost associated with the procurement and training of public servants with ICT skills, government sometimes feel reluctant in the actual implementation of e-governance in the public service. Similarly, Ayo & Ekong (2008) also stress the absence of skilled workers to handle various ICT services and their applications in bringing about the successful implementation of e-governance in the public sector. They also noted that the lack of government regulatory policy is a major issue that needs to be addressed if e-governance is to be a reality in government organisations. To them, the effective and successful implementation of e-governance requires experts to coordinate and operate the ICT-related infrastructures, because where there are no competent personnel to handle it infrastructure, it will be useless to procure the infrastructures (Ayo & Ekong, 2008).
Another challenge has to do with the state of power supply in the country, which is said to be epileptic and irregular in terms of supply. These have posed a considerable challenge to the realization of e-governance objectives in Nigeria. Okwueze (2010) also noted that adequate power supply is an important element to be considered for the successful implementation of e-governance in the country’s public sector. Against the current picture of what exist in most of the public service, most government agencies operate on generators and sometimes the generators lack capacity to power adequately the ICT facilities. Corroborating this view, Gberevbie; Ayo; Iyoha; Duruji & Abasilim (2015) stress that there is need for the government to establish the needed infrastructure in electricity power supply, internet connectivity, telecommunications and computer hardware, optical fiber cables, among others for the implementation of e-governance to be successful. This implies that the success of e-governance implementation in the Nigerian public service is tied to dealing with this current challenges, among others.
For Bansode & Patil (2011, p. 58) the digital divide also poses a challenge to e-governance implementation in Nigeria’s public service. What this simply means is “the gap between those with regular, effective access to digital and information technology and those without this access” In a clear manner, Keniston (2003) sees digital divide as the level of ICT knowledge between the rich and powerful who he terms as those part of the information age and the poor and powerless who are not. He further note that digital divide is not only limited to the level of ICT knowledge between the rich and the poor but also that which has to do with linguistic. To him, this divide separate those who can speak English from those who cannot. Another feature of this digital divide can be seen from the growing digital gap between the rich and poor nations and also the digital divide between a new elite group, which he called the “digerati”, that is, those who benefit from the enormous successful information technology industry and other knowledge based sectors of the economy such as biotechnology and pharmacology. The implication of this, is that, the challenge of digital divide encompasses the access to technology hardware physically and the required skills and resources needed for the judicious application of its use. But there are factors that are known to have contributed to this digital divide. For instance, factors like physical disability, physical access, access to the contents and lack of ICT skills contribute to the digital divide (Bansode & Patil, 2011).
However, Olaopa (2014, p. 5) succinctly itemized “inadequate funds allocated to the e-governance projects, difficulty associated with streamlining various silos of e-Government projects already existing or being implemented prior to the creation of the Ministry of Communication Technology, disparity between urban and rural dwellers or those with low literacy levels in accessing the internet, potential to erode the privacy of the citizenry, perceived lack of value for money when the huge cost of deploying e- Governance projects is compared to the actual value to the people, false sense of transparency as the challenges to the adoption and delivery of e-governance in Nigeria.
Additionally, the following are also considered as factors impeding the effective implementation of e-governance in Nigeria’s public service:
Lack of ICT Infrastructure: This is another crucial challenge to the implementation of e-governance in Nigeria’s public service. As it has been explained in the definition of e-governance above, it is the application of ICTs in the operations of government business. The Nigeria’s public service is still lacking in basic ICT infrastructure. For instance, some of the offices still lack common computers let alone the common skills for its operation. What you see in their daily activities is the traditional way of doing things. That is, they are still known for doing a lot of paper work which if e-governance is embraced fully would have reduced. In a better case, you will see the combination of both the traditional way of doing things alongside the digital approach. There are still no access to internet network in most public sector offices, no regular power supply and so on. All these pose challenge to the implementation of e-governance in Nigeria’s public service (ITU, 2006; Adeyemo, 2011).
Attitude or Resistance to Change: This is also a challenge in the public sector. Most of them are still used to the old way of carrying out government activities. That is, they are still known to be working with a lot of papers, carrying of files from one desk to the other or from one office to the other. Their resistance to e-governance implementation in their services is what has culminated to the poor rating of the implementation of e-governance in the public service. Some of the reasons for this, is that most of the public servants are not computer literate, not qualified, have little or no training in the installation, maintenance, designing and implementation of ICT infrastructure.
4. Recommendations and Conclusion
It is imperative at this juncture to suggest what can be done to achieve a successful implementation of e-governance in Nigeria’s public service. Based on the issues identified as some of the major challenges to e-governance implementation in Nigeria’s public service, the following recommendations are advanced:
Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies should set up e-governance implementation committees who will work out modalities for effective implementation of the concept, with performance evaluation units, establish to evaluate the successes and failures in its targets as well as feedback mechanism to report implementation effectiveness. The Federal Government of Nigeria should establish Ministry of ICT Affairs to set up ICT implementation framework evaluation units in each of the Ministries and Parastatals, with the Permanent Secretaries as the head. The ICT Ministry will liaise with the implementation committees at various ministries including state ministries to evaluate performance as well as feedback to help in its effectiveness. The government should also enact ICT laws that will make computer literacy a compulsory aspect for every public or civil servant both at the local, state and federal levels. The policy should also include creation of ICT awareness with computer literacy programmes among public servants. With the above done, the challenges will be reduced to a mere insignificant level as well as putting the country into the world map of e-governance high ranking list. The implementation of e-governance should be a must to all public service institutions as well”.
Nigeria’s public service (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) must show a high level of e-readiness in their operations. All that is needed must be put in place by the government, especially that which is within their capacity. For instance, ensure that all office is equipped with functional computers, employ highly skilled personnel in ICT, provision of continuous training of the personnel to keep them informed on how best to utilize e-governance in engendering effective service delivery among others.
The government must provide the necessary infrastructure that will aid the successful implementation of e-governance in Nigeria’s public service. For instance, robust broadband services, required internet network and the availability of power supply, which has been identified as one of the major challenges to e-governance implementation in the public service has to be taken care of. This means that the success of e-governance implementation in the public service is tied to the availability of power supply and in this case electricity. Government offices must also be internet connected with trained and qualified staff. Another factor to be considered is the Human element. This is important because no technology can drive itself, it is the human element that will drive the technology so their willingness is critical to whether e-governance implementation in Nigeria’s public service will succeed or not, and this is because they have the capacity to truncate whatever innovation and benefits e-governance promises to bring to bear. So on this note, government needs to carefully address the issue of human factor which often manifest in resistance to change, nonchalant attitudes and the likes which is responsible for underutilization of most of the ICT facilities put in place by government especially in offices or departments that tends to embrace e-governance in their operations, thereby sabotaging the good effort of the government.
A reliable and strategic framework for e-governance operation is necessary. Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies should set up e-governance implementation committees that will work out modalities for effective implementation, alongside the performance evaluation units established to assess the successes and failures in its targets as well as feedback mechanism to report implementation effectiveness. Additionally, there is the need for the government to come up with a regulatory policy, especially on the framework through legislation of e-governance and other ICT-related issues as it pertains to the operations strategies among the tiers of government. By so doing, the public service will be aware on the areas that needs to be worked on, in order to actualize effective implementation of e-governance in Nigeria’s public service.
The government should also enact Information and Communication Technology (ICT) laws that will make computer literacy a compulsory aspect for every public or civil servant both at the local, state and federal levels. Such policies should also involve the adoption of effective ICT awareness with computer-related literacy training programmes introduced in our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. With this implemented, the challenges will be reduced as well as putting the country into the world map of ICT/e-governance high ranking list.
However, the challenges have been identified and we hope that government and stakeholders in the ICT sector will quickly find quick and lasting solutions to them. For adequate solution to the challenges, we have suggested a number of recommendations among others have been advanced. We therefore conclude that e-governance remain the best in encouraging effective service delivery that will lead to transparency and accountability in government businesses and operations for Nigeria’s public service. But it has to contend with the challenges to the successful implementation of e-governance in the country’s public sector.
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