The School of Information Technology
University of Cincinnati
Rapid developments in Information Communication Technologies (ICT) affect public administrators’ decision making process, such as their policies related to citizens. These technologies can serve as a variety of different ends: “delivering better government services to citizens, improving interactions with business and industry, empowering citizens through their access to information, or providing more effective role with citizens in the decision making process of government management.” (Fang, 2002). Public managers shift their policy perspective from the cost-benefit orientation to the citizen satisfaction and participation. The new public management approach has brought the term “electronic governance” (e-governance) into people’s life.
E-governance leads to a better communication between governments and citizens by facilitating electronic information delivery. This is evident in e-governance’s various components such as e-democracy, and e-voting, among others. E-democracy aiming to gain citizens’ thoughts needs to acquire the citizen inputs through electronic process. For example, e-voting allows transmissions of votes via the Internet, telephones and private networks.
The e-governance phenomena will be discussed in this entry in terms of its definition, e-democracy, e-voting, and electronic interactions between governments and citizens as well as citizens’ participation in decision making process.
Keywords: Electronic governance, e-governance, governance, e-democracy, e-voting
Definition of E-Governance
Governance is defined by the World Bank as “the exercise of political authority and the use of institutional resources to manage society’s problems and affairs.” (Mundial, 1991). More specifically, from the public administration point of view, governance means “the rules, processes and behaviors that affect the way public administration function.” (Torres, Pina, & Acerete, 2006).
The European Union defined e-governance as “the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in public administrations combined with organizational change and new skills in order to improve public services and democratic processes and strengthen support to public policies.” (Komito, 2004) E-government leads to interaction among governments, citizens and business partners. It aims to strength the communication by facilitating information flow among these parties.
For the last couple decades, government-citizen relationships have concerned about the points of efficiency, ease of use, accessibility, transparency and participation. Government authorities challenged to transform themselves in order to provide engagement for citizens in democratic participation in decision making process and have more transparent governance (Khosrowpour, 2005) . E-government was the first pace of the steps in the way of reaching e-governance. E-government have brought almost all government processes available to all citizens via ICT applications. ICT helps e-government in facilitating on-line public services to accomplish government-related tasks (Paskaleva-Shapira, 2006) . These technologies can serve as a variety of different ends. For example, one of them is better delivery of government services to citizens, second is that improved interactions with business and industry. Third is that citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management. The resulting benefits can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and/or cost reductions (Fang, 2002).
E-governance goes beyond of e-government by including many key issues such as participation, engagement, shaping, debating, and implementing public policies (Komito, 2004). For example, European Union used the slogan as “eEurope: Information Society for all” to spread out its intention about the newly created society by influencing the benefits of e-governance. E-governance consists of electronic services provided by governmental agencies and other arms of administration units. Additionally, e-governance covers the benefits and results which e-government does. E-governance creates a platform for electronic transformation and services that makes the process easier and transparent for citizens.
Using Electronic Means for Deliberation
The relationship between government authorities and citizens is always an attractive topic for researchers. In the late 1990’s the public policies and developments in ICT forced politicians to reconstruct the legitimacy of government through the enhancement of accountability, openness and transparency. In recent years, governments challenged themselves to leverage their services by the impact of the information revolution. Many of them adapted their laws and infrastructures along with the developments in information science. The countries in Eastern Europe and in Asia, particularly in China, made great efforts to modernize their public administration and public organizations by adopting web-based technologies in order to enhance public participation (Leenes, Svensson, & Drüke, 2005). In addition to the federal administrative practices dealing with the e-governance, local governments performed to design their services for local needs. Local governments, such as the ones in Seoul, New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sidney, Singapore, Tokyo, Zurich, Toronto and Riga have been known as the leading governments in the area of e-governance. (Holzer, Fudge, Stowers, Shick, & Manoharan, 2010).
European Union (EU) is one of the leading organizations which derives, analyzes and compares pros and cons of electronic service delivery. The reforms in public management by the way of e-governance brought governments about downsizing, decentralization, contraction out, replacement of input control by output control, accrual accounting, empowerment of citizens and employees, one-stop shops and greater use of information technology (Torres et al., 2006).
The key factors in success of e-governance depend on potential effects of technology, influence of the political context, government agencies, and information flow among the agencies, and within the society (Parvez & Ahmed, 2006). The government portals that are designed to allow two-way and many-to-many communication. It keeps the forms online that needs to be submitted to agencies and quick response to the queries submitted by citizens are more likely to success. (Komito, 2004)
E-governance has been increasingly developing in recent years. Public administrators concerned more citizen satisfaction and participation, flexibility and transparency in service delivery rather than cost efficiency. Therefore, new developments brought the term of e-democracy into the public administration. (Parvez & Ahmed, 2006). E-governance enhance transparency and democracy by increasing citizen participation which makes citizen a part of public decision making processes is the key element in building e-democracy. For this purpose, the e-democracy concept challenged governments to find out new ways for engaging citizens in the process of democratic governance such as e-voting, e-consultation, e-petitioning, e-discussions forums, online registrations, online questions, and online complaints (Parvez & Ahmed, 2006).
Some potential samples for e-democracy could be internet forums, electronic mailing lists, peer-to-peer networks, collaborative software, dashboards, and blogs. All those technologies might have influences on administration and decision making process as the public discussion portals and reflecting opinions. By this way, ICT hosts democratic platform for political, educational, and social discussions for citizens and helps to improve democratic participation (Holzer et al., 2010)
Another form of electronic democracy is called electronic direct democracy (EDD) which also means direct interaction between governments and individuals by the use of internet and other communications technologies such as electronic voting (e-voting).
As in e-voting process, qualified citizens have rights to vote electronically on legislations, elections and referendums. E-voting systems allow transmissions of votes via the Internet, telephones and private networks. E-Voting technology consists of digital cards that include electronic information on them (also called as punch cards), optical scanners to read paper ballots, kiosks that are designed for Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems (Moynihan, 2004) . E-Voting mainly indicate two types of forms such as casting and counting of votes. For the citizens, it is a system providing opportunity for them to post or cast their votes by using specialized systems. It provides better accessibility specifications for disabled voters, and it speeds up ballot counting (Gritzalis, 2002).
E-voting has been used in a number of formally binding referendums, and private elections in all around the world. It has been practiced for the first time in Estonia that in entire country casted votes via the internet in a public elections (local government elections) in 16 October 2005 (Trechsel & Breuer, 2006).
E-Voting requires technological investments and digital divide should also be considered to evaluate overall results. Although there is no sufficient research on the effects of the system in terms of increasing voter turnout, information security and possible frauds (Moynihan, 2004)
For last couple of decades, public administrators have given more importance to citizen satisfaction than cost-effectiveness. The recent public policies have been shaped by the influence of Information Communication Technology (ICT). E-Governance is related to the use of ICT (especially the Internet) via the facilitating the interactions between states and citizens. Many governments have already adopted their laws and regulations to gain benefits from technologies such as the delivery of e-signatures and e-voting. In order to understand the e-governance implementation deeply, different forms of technology use, human actors and government practices needs to be examined because the needs and practices vary across societies.
Although e-governance have some limitations that are specific to electronic environment and political structural variations across the governments, it is a crucial topic for public managers and government administrators. It eventually encourages citizen’s participation in administration process and offers ways to strength the civil rights in a democratic society.
E-governance is impressed identifiable discipline in public mind and challenged citizens to voice their sounds in decision making process. Internet forums, electronic mailing lists, peer-to-peer networks, collaborative software, dashboards, and blogs started to play significant role in information sharing and discussions for public. E-democracy concept challenged governments to encourage citizens to spread their thoughts, to discuss political, educational, emotional topics, and to criticize societies’ problems and needs in electronic environment. E-democracy creates valuable source for law, policy and decision makers to understand societies’ thoughts and needs and products of e-democracy is reshaping governments. Although there are still some debates on e-voting regarding to information security, it is a powerful tool for citizens to cast their votes electronically as well as effective to get much easier counting process for government authorities.
In the world as a global village, e-governance is the democratic way of solving problems collectively overtime by ensuring citizen participation and using their opinions in the process of law and policy making. In the near future e-governance phenomenon is going to structure more transparent, more democratic government for knowledgeable societies and is going to turn into the form of innovative social engineering.
Fang, Z. (2002). E-government in digital era: concept, practice, and development. International Journal of the Computer, the Internet and Management, 10(2), 1–22.
Gritzalis, D. A. (2002). Principles and requirements for a secure e-voting system. Computers & Security, 21(6), 539–556.
Holzer, M., Fudge, M., Stowers, G., Shick, R., & Manoharan, A. (2010). US Municipalities E-Governance Survey (2010-11). Governance, 11.
Khosrowpour, M. (2005). Practicing E-government. IGI Global. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=eSO9AQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR6&dq=Mehdi+(EDT)+Khosrowpour.+Practicing+E-Government:+a+global+perspective%3B+Idea+Group+Inc+(IGI),+2005&ots=VphdpJDCW2&sig=1AAqzl8iZCWLE7NgVl0-IRN0udk
Komito, L. (2004). E-Governance in Ireland: new technologies, public participation, and social capital. In Proceedings of the 4th European Conference on E-Government: towards innovative transformation of the public sector (pp. 17–18). Retrieved from http://www.ucd.ie/lkomito/e_governance_ireland.htm
Leenes, R., Svensson, J., & Drüke, H. (2005). Local e-government in the Netherlands. Drüke, H. Local Electronic Government: A Comparative Study. London: Routledge, 103–135.
Moynihan, D. P. (2004). Building Secure Elections: E-Voting, Security, and Systems Theory. Public Administration Review, 64(5), 515–528.
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Parvez, Z., & Ahmed, P. (2006). Towards building an integrated perspective on e-democracy. Information, Community & Society, 9(5), 612–632.
Paskaleva-Shapira, K. (2006). Transitioning from e-Government to e-Governance in the knowledge society: the role of the legal framework for enabling the process in the European union’s countries. In Proceedings of the 2006 international conference on Digital government research (pp. 181–190). Digital Government Society of North America. Retrieved from http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1146653
Torres, L., Pina, V., & Acerete, B. (2006). E-Governance Developments in European Union Cities: Reshaping Government’s Relationship with Citizens. Governance, 19(2), 277–302.
Trechsel, A. H., & Breuer, F. (2006). E-voting in the 2005 local elections in Estonia and the broader impact for future e-voting projects. In Proceedings of the 2006 international conference on Digital government research (pp. 40–41). Digital Government Society of North America. Retrieved from http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1146614