September 2006

Nepal e-Government masterplan

Views: 593

The Nepalese Government has been fully aware of the potential of ICT from the beginning. However, in the 1990s the government could not realise the socio-economic benefits of ICT but since the dawn of new millennium numerous efforts are being made to harness the potential of ICT for democracy, political stability and socio-economic transformation. The Government has formulated a masterplan for the realisation of the e-Government now

Nepal e-Government masterplan Striding decisively

The ICT (Information and Communication Technology) revolution has stimulated transformational socio-economic shifts around the world with an ever-increasing reliance on ICT. The shift is a result of ICT’s unprecedented ability to process, store, and retrieve, duplicate and transmit information unconstrained by time, distance, and volume. There has been a profound impact of ICT on political, economical, social and cultural values. For example, email communications have jumped 32 times from 20 million email users worldwide in 1994 to 651 million in 2005. As such, this new human achievement suggests an era of true globalisation on a scale never witnessed before. Moreover, ICT comes with promises of new opportunities in liberating marginalised communities in developing countries. However, as of now ICT driven socio-economic development simply remains a potential requiring careful planning, if realistic outcomes are to be achieved. For a truly empowering undertaking, governments should be deeply committed to exploiting ICT’ for the benefits of its citizens.

ICT and Nepal Government

The Nepal Government has been fully aware of the potential of ICT from the start. In 1971, the first computer (IBM 1401) was introduced to the country for census purposes, followed by the establishment of the National Computer Centre (NCC) in 1974. Unfortunately, in 1996 the NCC was dissolved. Although the government could not realize the socio-economic benefits of ICT in the 1990s, since the dawn of the new millennium there have been numerous efforts to harness the potential of ICT for democracy, political stability and socio-economic transformation. For a while now, many have been trying to link the success of e-Commerce with the public administration. The concept of e-Government is the result of long-standing quest to find the missing link between the two sectors.

In April 2002, the Gartner Group made the startling announcement that “more than 60 percent of all e-government initiatives either fail or fall short of expected outcomes”. The pundits of the new public management were quick to put the blame on illiteracy, inadequate infrastructure, and government’s scarce financial resources. However, scholarly observations have revealed that governments are failing at the planning stage. Most of the time, plans start with an e-readiness assessment focused on government’s infrastructure, Internet access, and IT literacy, ignoring non-technology issues like policy, institutional inflexibility, and leadership. Planning for technology is generally the easiest part because the hardware and software involved is becoming more user-friendly, powerful, and reliable.

In Nepal, the High Level Commission for Information Technology (HLCIT) and the National Information Technology Centre (NITC) duly understand and acknowledge the importance of planning. HLCIT is an apex body formed under the chair of the Prime Minister to provide crucial strategic direction to formulate appropriate policy responses for the development of the ICT sector. NITC is currently the secretariat of HCLIT and was established in the year 2002 in line with IT Policy 2000, and was originally under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). NITC’s main objectives are to build a knowledge-based society by supporting knowledge-based institutions and promote and develop ICT by making it accessible to the public. NITC is responsible for the implementation of any ICT-related initiatives in the government including e-Government.

National e-Government masterplan

HLCIT and NITC have jointly developed the National e-Government Master Plan (NEMP) with technical assistance from Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency (KIPA). The masterplan was completed as scheduled in July 2006. HLCIT requested Korean support because currently it ranks 5th on the “2005 Global e-Government Readiness Index” published by the United Nations. KIPA and HLCIT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in December 2005. In January 2006, an e-Government steering committee and working committee were formed to further the e-Government masterplan. The steering committee consisted of the joint secretaries of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Ministry of General Administration (MOGA), the Ministry of Information and Communication (MOIC), the Ministry of Environment, Science, and Technology (MOEST), the executive director of NITC, and full time member of HLCIT. The working committee consisted of ICT professionals from HLCIT, NITC, and MOIC and the e-Government advisor of NITC.

The steering committee’s role was to monitor progress and provide insights, and the working committee’s role was to provide KIPA with information and report on progress and problems to the steering committee on a bi-monthly basis. The e-Government masterplan development project officially started on 28th February 2006. The project was divided into three phases— “As is Analysis”, “Tobe- Model”, and “Establishment Plan”.

The “As Is Analysis” phase included analysis of policies related to ICT, its current state in  Nepal, a requirement analysis, benchmarking, and ICT trends. For policy analysis, the shortcomings and strengths of IT Policy 2000 and Telecommunication Policy 2004 were  studied. The analysis of ICT diffusion showed only 4%  of the population had access to  telephone services, with 87,000 lines in distribution. There are 38 Internet Service Providers (ISP) with 59 regional points and 240,000 Internet subscribers with a PC penetration rate of  6.2 per 1,000. Four universities and affiliated colleges offer ICT-related degrees, with over  4,000 students graduating annually.

ICT survey

The results of a Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) October 2005 survey regarding the ICT w o r k f o r c e showed that 66% have a p e r m a n e n t job, and 44% have ICT-related qualifications. Women constitute only 18% of the potential  workforce .

The results imply that to penetrate in the ICT industry, it is imperative to devise a systematic  approach in setting up ICT policies focused on execution and to establish ICT  diffusion plan focused on provision of low cost PCs and ICT education. Besides, there is also a  need to build infrastructure, in terms of an IP broadband access network and access points  using WLL (wireless loop) and wired lines.

The results of the survey regarding the Informatisation status of the central government indicate that presently several government agencies are operating database driven  applications running on medium sized servers. The majority of government agencies are  using Microsoft (MS) Windows operating systems and MS Office due to accessibility of pirated  software. A few agencies have developed their own customised applications focused on e-Administration, e.g. Budget Management Systems (BMS) by the Ministry of Finance (MOF),  Integrated Voters Registration Systems (IVRS) and District Voter Registration  Systems (DVRS) by the Election Commission (EC), Document Management System by HLCIT,  and One Stop Government Portal by NITC. This indicates there is a need to share  computerization plans among the government offices in order to prevent overlapping. Twenty-four high-ranking bureaucrats (HRB) comprising secretaries, joint secretaries, under  secretaries and 18 ICT Focal Points (FP) of different ministries and commissions were  interviewed to map the requirement analysis. The results indicate that 60% percent of HRB  and 83% of ICT focal points acknowledged the lack of ICT professionals as the foremost obstacle  for e-Government transformation. Thus, securing a skilled workforce will be key to successful  implementation. There is a need for the recruitment of ICT-literate civil servants and the  provision of basic training programs for civil servants. Further, there has to be top-level  commitment from government for effective execution.

To establish the “To-Be-Model”, more than 100 students, adults, ICT experts, and ICT-literate  citizens from rural areas were surveyed. The survey focused on the urban perimeter due to  the low ICT literacy of semi-urban and rural areas. The survey results indicate that 91% percent used PCs at home; 31% use PCs for Internet searches; 30% use PCs for educational  purposes; and 70% use dial up connections to access the Internet. In terms of frequently used  administrative services, 33 % said resident registration and 15% said real estate. For  administrative purposes, 89% visited government offices, of which 41% felt that the slow  execution of the government processes needed to be improved, 31% thought customer satisfaction was unsatisfactory, and 25% thought the complicated workflow needed to be  simplified. When asked which administrative services most needed computerisation, 45% talked of National ID, 13% customer services, and 12% tax services. Finally, regarding what projects were needed to realise e-Government in Nepal 30% prioritised expansion of telecommunications infrastructure and 30% prioritised expansion of ICT education.

Ten mid-size businesses were also surveyed — 25% felt that relaxation of government  regulations was the most important factor for the development of economy; 30% had over 100  PCs and 30% had between 50-100 PCs; 55% used dial-up and 27% percent used wireless for Internet access. For the most frequently used services, 55% responded that they used tax  services; 47% said they visited government offices for services; 40% felt that slow work  execution needed improvement; 40% felt the complicated workflow needed improvement; and  50% responded that providing administrative services through the Internet and  expanding services through the Internet were the top two priority projects for e-Government transformation.

Forty-three civil servants were selected randomly and interviewed — 30% had used PCs for  5-10 years; 28% had used PCs for more than 10 years; 37% responded that they spent 3-5  hours daily on the Internet; 56% said that they used dial-up access; 40% wanted to take up  programming; 21% wanted to learn how to better use the Internet; 56% responded that  interdepartmental work was the most important factor for improving administrative services; 51% felt that National ID system would prove most useful in terms administrative  services for citizens and businesses; and 73% responded that no regulations or policies on  computerisation existed in their respective departments. In terms of developing Nepalese economy through e-Government, administrative service informatisation was prioritised by 31%, improving the civil service 27%, and improving administrative efficiency by 24%.

In order to ensure that the e-Government masterplan technology is current, ICT trends were  analysed. The results of the ICT trend analysis are divided into five categories — Planning,  Application Support, Security, Communication and Network, and Systems Management. Planning includes standards and techniques for blueprints and action plans with technologies  such as Enterprise Architecture and Business Process Reengineering. Application Support includes standards, tools, and technology to support integration of information and  applications such as Groupware, Enterprise Portal and Knowledge Management. Security  includes technology and protocol for integrity and authorisation and technologies such as Virtual Private Network, Intrusion Prevention System. Communication and Network include  technologies such as Optical Cross Connection, Multi Service Provisioning Protocol, Metro  Ethernet, and WIMAX. Finally, Systems Management includes technology for managing ICT  assets such as H/W, N/W and DBMS technologies such as Internet Data Centre and Disaster Recovery.

After policy analysis, e-readiness assessment, ICT trend analysis, benchmarking studies, and   requirement analysis of the Critical Customer Requirements (CCR) for e-Government  transformation are identified. Twenty-one CCRs were identified through selecting the prerequisites to establishing e-Government in Nepal. The strategy is divided into four main categories — Citizen-centred services, transparent services, networked government, and building infrastructure. Citizen-Centred services provide online government services and diversification of civil service channels. Transparent services comprise opening administrative information, and providing one-stop government administration services.Networked government includes computerisation of government and administration   processes. Building infrastructure relates to improving laws and regulations for e-Government, and construction of advanced ICT infrastructure.

To formulate an e-Government vision and mission, a one-day workshop brought together civil  servants, academics, private sector representatives, and civil society. The vision  statement was utilised as a guide for implementing strategies while the mission is utilised as a  guide for formulating strategies. The vision is to “Build a competitive democratic country by  establishing citizen centred, transparent and networked government through utilization of advanced ICT”.

The goals of the administrative services for e-Government are divided into 4 categories —  Government-to-Citizen (G2C), Government-to-Business (G2B), Government- to-Government  (G2G), and Infrastructure. G2C deals with the relationship between government and citizens.  G2B consists of electronic interactions between government agencies and private businesses. G2G refers to the relationship between governmental organisations at national,  regional and local level. Online communication and cooperation allows government agencies  and departments to share databases, resources, and pool skills, and capabilities enhancing the  efficiency and affectivity of processes. Achieving infrastructure involves preparing the  foundations needed for e-Government and to provide advanced administration services.

Status of e-Government in Nepal

According to the five promotion stages specified by the UN and the American Society of Public  Administration (UNASPA, 2002), Nepal is currently at stage 1. This means government  websites have been created to provide basic information in a static manner. The  e-Government roadmap states that by the end of 2011 Nepal will have reached at stage 3. To move from the second stage to the third stage, there should be two-way transactions, access to  services through various channels, knowledge-based administrative processes, and  pan-governmental collaborative network for knowledge sharing. The top twenty priority  projects were selected with an evaluation method recommended by KIPA. The projects were  assigned points according to the two evaluation indicators, Importance and Feasibility. According to the Importance factor, the top 20 priority projects were selected and classified under G2C, G2B, G2G, or infrastructure.

G2C projects include National ID, a Government Representative Portal, a Passport  Registration System, e-health, e-election, e-vehicle registration, e-driver’s license, e-petition,  and e-agriculture. G2B projects include Recruitment and Employment Information System, e-customs, e-procurement, e-patents, e-tourism, and e-commerce. G2G projects include e-tax,  an Immigration Management System, e-education, e-land, a Management Information  Systems, and e-authentication. Infrastructure projects include public key infrastructure, a  Government Integrated Data Centre, and enterprise architecture. The projects will be  implemented in two phases — first phase (2007-8) and second phase (2009-11). In the first  phase, projects having direct impact on the citizens and infrastructure projects that are the  bedrock of successful e-Government transformation would be implemented. Therefore, the  first phase would focus on the Government Representative Portal, National ID, Enterprise Architecture, Government Integrated Data Centre, Public Key Infrastructure, ICT  organisation, the establishment of basic Acts, national unified code system development, and the expansion of ICT infrastructure.

Without a legal framework, electronic transformation cannot be successful. Therefore, three  main legal frameworks are recommended. They are as follows: Laws on National  Informatisation Promotion; Laws on ICT Industry Promotion; and Laws on ICT Infrastructure  Construction. Laws on National Informatisation Promotion should include Law on Informatisation promotion; Law on e- Government Creation; and Law on Disclosing  Administrative Information. Laws on ICT Industry Promotion necessitates including Law to  Promote the Software Industry; Law to Promote Online Digital Contents Industry; Law on  e-Transaction; Law on Automation of Trading; and Law on Intellectual Property Rights. Laws  on ICT Infrastructure Construction needs to include Law to Narrow the Informatisation Gap to bridge the digital divide and promote access to the rural areas of Nepal); Law on Protection of Personal Information; Law on e-Signature (for legalization of online e-signatures such as  fingerprints, scanned signatures, and legal seals); Law on Protection of Telecommunication  Secrecy; and Law on ICT Network Usage Promotion and Information Protection.

Bench marking studies from the USA, Korea and India have suggested that there needs to be a  powerful committee under the head of government to foresee implementation of the  e-Government masterplan. The e-Government masterplan has recommended the formation of an e-Government steering committee directly under the Prime Minister of Nepal. The  steering committee would be extremely powerful as it controls the funding and architecture,  defines, writes and maintains the standards and priorities for development and controls the  users of data. The steering committee also needs to input ideas from different ministries, organisations and citizens. The steering committee would be responsible for reviewing the  overall e-Government masterplan.

The results of “As is Analysis” identify Human Resource Development (HRD) as the most  essential element for successful implementation of the e-Government masterplan. To achieve human resource development, Nepal should introduce an ICT-related curriculum for  secondary education, expand provision of e learning, provide ICT training for bureaucrats,  introduce an Informatisation Village, and improve computer literacy.

Comments

comments

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest News

To Top