E-Government Toolkit for Developing Countries

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E-Government Toolkit for Developing Countries” is produced by National Informatics Centre,    the premier ICT organisation for Government of India at the behest of UNESCO, Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Communication and Information, New Delhi. Organised into nine chapters and twenty-nine case studies from across the globe, the book can serve as an ideal startup manual for the e-Government practitioners entrusted with the task of planning, implementing and monitoring e-Government projects in developing countries. The book will  take the readers in a systematic way from understanding e-Government, developing an  action plan for the government, capacity building etc. unto the monitoring and evaluation of e-Government projects.

Chapter one titled as “ Conceptual Overview” deals with the distinction between e-Governance, e-Government and e-Democracy, which are generally being used in the same breath by many practitioners. The authors have dealt with the benefits of e-Government, which will help generate a political will as well as literacy among the employees on the benefits of implementing e-Government in public sector. The authors have described a maturity model for e-Government, which is a replica of World Bank model. The brief discussion on the other models developed by various scholars and multilateral agencies in addition to the presented model would have been more helpful. Overall, this chapter is very well written and provides a ground for the beginners to understand e-Government and the role of various stakeholders.

The implementation of e-Government in a country requires a conductive environment to realise its potential for development. Chapter two in the book provides the inputs for conceptual understanding and the importance of ereadiness assessment. Unlike the previous chapter, this chapter deals with different e-readiness assessment models such as CSPP’s  readiness guide for living in the networked world, CID’s readiness guide for the developing  countries, e-Commerce readiness assessment, McConnell International’s risk e-Business report,  Network Readiness Index developed by World Economic Forum, Infodev and INSEAD, e- Government Index by UNDPEPA and the Economic Intelligence Unit e-readiness rankings. The authors have also put together a suggested framework for assessing e-readiness based upon the features of different models described in the chapter. Chapter three deals with the process of creating a national strategy and action plan based upon the knowledge imparted in first two chapters. The chapter deals in detail with the steps involved in the formulation of e-Government action plan. The chapter ends with a checklist of the steps required for the formulation of e- Government action plan along with the activities/output for each step.

Successful implementation of any e-Government plan requires implementation capacity at the government level and absorptive capacity at the user level. Chapters four through seven discuss building human capacity, infrastructure development and building of public private  partnerships for ensuring the success of national level plans on e-Government. Chapter five  very briefly touches on the importance of building interoperability framework under the infrastructure development. The authors have described the important consideration to be kept in mind while crafting the framework for public private partnerships.

Chapter seven gives a very brief overview of the importance of evolving a legal and regulatory framework along with the examples of legal and regulatory measures evolved by countries like United Kingdom, Australia, United States and India. Some highlights of the  Information technology Act 2000 of India are provided at the end of the chapter.

The final goal of any e-Government plan at a national level is to provide the seamless electronic public services to the citizens and business entities in a country though a single window mechanism. Chapter eight provides the overviews of the national portals developed  by Singapore, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom, Canada and India followed up by  the discussion of key characteristics of national portal. The readers will benefit a lot from this  in their pursuit to comprehend the process involved in providing single window services. The  last chapter is focused on benchmarking and evaluation techniques for monitoring and  evaluation of e-Government projects with a collection of 29 case studies from various parts of the world.

Overall, this toolkit is an important resource for the beginners and can act as a startup  manual for e-Government practitioners and other stakeholders from developing  countries.

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