5 Lessons from Winning International eGovernment Practices

Government oversight of the automotive industry was established more than a century ago with the passing of the Vehicle Act of 1915. Despite the time between then and now, change has been slow to happen. However, the ever-increasing automation of vehicles has forced automakers and government entities to collaborate like never before in an effort to create a workable and reliable process of laws and governance in this industry. One tool that has made this collaboration more manageable and productive is eGovernment.

Over time, more governments and government agencies around the globe are embracing technology and making strides towards establishing eGovernments that provide services to and for protection of their citizens via digital channels.

Fortunately for the USA, other countries have paved the way, enacting working systems of eGovernment from which we can learn.

1. Canada: Follow a structured process

Our neighbor to the north stepped into the field of eGovernment in 1999. With the stated goal of more effectively connecting its citizens, Canada established Government On-Line (GOL) in this same year and have been following a structured process of system development ever since.

As with any change, this revamp to the status quo in government service provision provided some welcome surprises. In Canada’s case, those charged with the public administration of an eGovernment system found that conducting transactions through online portals yielded a benefit they had not considered prior—cost savings.

The secret to Canada’s success in this area has been recognizing that the establishment of an eGovernment system to support the public sector is an ongoing and structured process. Before system building began, organizers mapped out a clear path and have been following it faithfully as they strive to build upon a workable and sustainable eGovernment system.

As Canada’s entry into eGovernment has successfully evolved, public participation has grown. With this has come an increased demand for openness. Organizers have responded, shifting their focus to four critical dimensions: service, security, transparency and trust. By identifying these key components and developing services and solutions germane to them, the Canadian government has been thus far successful in building a digital connection with its citizens.

2. South Korea: Promote citizen involvement

Who in the world has the best eGovernment system? According to many UN officials, the title belongs to South Korea.

Recognizing that instituting and running an effective digital government is crucial to meeting the demands of the 21st century, South Korea has worked to establish internet-based services for federal government and local government services alike in recent years. The result is the development of a robust eGovernment infrastructure that enables its citizens to access more services online. South Korea’s “single-window” system is tremendously comprehensive, offering electronic services that range from allowing parents to check their children’s school records to providing a portal for suppliers to bid on government projects.

To be sure, building this system didn’t happen overnight. The establishment of an eGovernment system in this region is an ongoing project which formally dates back to the early 2000s.

One of the factors motivating South Korea to dedicate so many years of focus to this effort is the ability of an eGovernment system to make government more open, encouraging more active participation by citizens in its processes. With many countries struggling to find ways to engage citizens and sustain that engagement, this potential benefit is worthy of note.

3. Estonia: Create a streamlined support system

Despite the fact that Estonia regained its independence just a little over two decades ago, it has nonetheless established itself as an eGovernment powerhouse. Currently, it’s considered by many to be in tight competition with South Korea for the eGovernment crown.

What’s the secret to their success? The answer is the establishment of a comprehensive system of public services called the Information System Authority. This system seeks to serve in three prominent capacities:

  • To be the system through which the Estonian eGovernment operates
  • To maintain national cyber security
  • To digitally manage public and governmental funds

Through this integrated system, Estonians can do anything from changing their legal names to filing their taxes. This has all but eliminated the need for paper transactions, streamlining government functionality and allowing officials to be more efficient in their time usage as well as more modern in their approaches.

4. Hong Kong: Review and revise

Hong Kong’s efforts to establish and hone an eGovernment system have been data driven, and  wisely so. Much like South Korea, Hong Kong has followed a comprehensive action plan and been praised for its development of eGovernment.

The Digital 21 Strategy, which directs Hong Kong’s eGovernment efforts, was established in 1998—back when most Americans were still using dial-up.

A primary factor in Hong Kong’s success has been its willingness to revisit the plan, reviewing data in order to determine what is and is not working. With a careful eye toward repeating and building upon successful efforts, as well as abandoning duds, Hong Kong’s eGovernment system has grown in a logical, predictable and sustainable manner.

5. United Arab Emirates: Make it mobile

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been climbing the ranks, moving from 49th to 28th on the list when it comes to online government service delivery.

This country’s success stems from their bidirectional approach to creating and providing services. Individual principalities can build and implement new online services as deemed necessary in order to fit their specific needs. Meanwhile, the national government is busy building a system that meets the universalized needs of the country. With development happening on multiple fronts, the UAE has been notably successful in building a robust system in a surprisingly short period of time, offering its citizens benefits unrivaled even by many long-established countries.

One such benefit is the current development of what is being called mGovernment. Citizens of the UAE, much like those of the USA, love their smartphones. In acknowledgment of this fact, the UAE is intent on providing dedicated and secure portals through which its citizens can access government services via their smartphones.

Innovating eGovernment in the U.S.

Historically, the US has always prided itself on being a frontrunner in areas of invention, exploration and technology. What’s more, there is no question that the United States has the technological capability to implement advances in the areas of V2Gov and eGovernment on the whole. Perhaps observation of advances being made by the rest of the world, coupled with careful explanation and education on the home front, will allow the US government and its citizens to work together toward acknowledging—and eventually embracing—the convenience and benefits available through improved eGovernment and V2Gov systems.