The physicist Neils Bohr allegedly wrote that “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”. Many academics believe that serious scholars should never attempt to write about the future, but some awareness of the ways in which the future of e-government may evolve is needed if well-grounded long-term decisions about issues such as infrastructures, institutions and educational programs are to be made. In addition, future-oriented research is of the utmost importance for informed public debate about technological developments with far reaching societal implications.
This book marks the 25th anniversary of the permanent study group on e-government of the European Group for Public Administration, and the papers here were first presented at their 2012 meeting in Bucharest, Romania. The invited authors were not asked for rigorous analyses based on systematic empirical research or deeply rooted in a theoretical framework; instead they were challenged to write thoughtful and measured, but provocative, essays about ICT and public administration in the coming decade. Their contributions are reflections on the nature of new and emerging technologies in the public sector and their impact on government and on democracy itself.
The book is divided into three sections: the past and present as starting point for thinking about the future of e-government, imagining the future of government, and implications for research and practice. The many questions raised by developments in ICT for future public administration are presented in a clear and thought-provoking manner, and merit more debate. This volume represents a departure from the normal run of academic publications. It is intended both to provoke academics and administrators to think about questions which will affect all of our futures and to offer a range of creative ideas about how the opportunities presented by technology can be exploited to provide better government and governance.
While the development of e-government since the early 1990s has been characterized by many successful applications and systems, it has also been notable for a number of failures to fully realise visions and for several stalled ideas. Governments, professionals and indeed scholars have a tendency to embrace the latest technological developments before older ones have been fully exploited or in some cases even fully understood and this can leave a trail of uncompleted projects in its wake. The future success of e-government depends in part on understanding this phenomenon, addressing it and developing the ability to discern when a technology or concept is no longer of value and therefore should be abandoned and when a task needs to be finished properly, no matter how unglamorous that task may be.
The overarching argument here is that only a ‘whole polity’ perspective, an ‘information polity’ perspective, can be satisfactory as both a starting and finishing point for the predictive endeavour being set out in this special edition. The organising image is one of seeing two trajectories at work in the polity, trajectories that hitherto have too often been treated as separate but which are ineluctably intertwined. The first of these trajectories is that of information intensifying government/governance and the second, the trajectory associated with communications intensifying democratic character of the polity as both formally initiated in experimentation and innovation and in the informal, spontaneous democratic impulses that have emerged from the era of social networking, or ‘web 2.0’. Drawn together these trajectories make up the wider polity, an information- and communications-intensive polity. Separating them for analytical purposes allows examination of the different paces of change in each of these trajectories, enabling speculative conclusions to be drawn, perhaps more accurately than otherwise, about what to expect in this century's third decade.
Many complexities associated with e-Government are caused by using the wrong perspectives to understand and explain e-Government phenomena. This argument will be further introduced and explained by using e-Government initiatives and approaches in New Zealand as an illustrative case study. Generally, two dominant streams of e-Government thinking about the role of ICTs in government can be identified over time: e-Government 1.0 – a perspective where ICTs are seen as a driving force of change in public administration and governance, and e-Government 2.0 – a perspective that directly and explicitly relates the use of ICTs in government and its external relationships with transformational change.
In this contribution it is argued that an alternative stream of thinking on e-Government is needed which accommodates the challenging dynamic, unpredictable, complex, and non-linear aspects of e-Government. As these aspects have everything to do with the unique characteristics of government, this alternative stream of thinking will be addressed as ‘Public Administration 2.0’, to reflect that current mainstream Public Administration thinking persistently separate out e-Government from their own domains of interest and treat themas technology-related topics without any relevance to the Public Administration discipline. The value of applying a Public Administration 2.0 perspective to e-Government phenomena is further demonstrated by discussing two examples based on empirical research from New Zealand, one example in which transactional e-Government service provision is compared with e-Commerce service delivery, and a second example exploring benefits realisation around three e-Government initiatives.
This article reflects on an emerging academic perspective of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) which places a consideration of ‘surveillance’ at the heart of its analysis. It is argued, that a new ‘surveillance perspective’ is becoming more prominent and that this perspective offers new and different insights into comprehending the nature of new and emergent technologies and their application in governmental and public service settings. The surveillance perspective offers the potential to provide x-ray vision, an approach which can be utilised to comprehend and ‘shine a light on’ the surveillance implications of ICTs in modern society. In addition, to providing a fresh look at the implications of the way new ICTs are integrated into public administration the surveillance perspective allows us to make different judgements about the desirability, or otherwise, of the use of ICTs in public administration and society. Here the core argument is that the surveillance perspective provides a different type of insight, and an understanding of the use and implications of ICTs which is often missing from mainstream eGovernment studies. Implicit in this perspective is the view that our attitudes towards the use and usefulness of ICT applications may be different if we reflect on the surveillance consequences of their use.
Information technologies (IT) can now be considered one of the key components of government administrative reform. The potential is even greater when working across organizational boundaries. Unfortunately, inter-agency collaboration appears to face an even greater number of challenges than similar IT initiatives within a single organization. The challenges include data and technological incompatibility, the lack of institutional incentives to collaborate, and the politics and power struggles around a pervasive silo structure in most governments, among many others. This paper argues that there are clear trends towards greater inter-organizational collaboration, information sharing, and integration, which could lead, in the near future, to what might be called a smart State. The paper starts discussing the promises and challenges that have already been identified for government information sharing and integration initiatives. Then it describes two trends in terms of inter-organizational collaboration and information technologies in government settings. The paper ends by providing reflections about the technical and political feasibility, as well as the social desirability, of an integrated virtual State in which the executive, legislative, and judicial branches
For this paper, the description of government is based on a federal system with three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) and multiple levels of government (national, regional, and local). The reader is invited to apply these ideas to different government settings.
are actively collaborating and sharing information through the use of advanced information technologies, sophisticated coordination mechanisms, shared physical infrastructure, and, potentially, new organizational and institutional arrangements.
The use of social media applications has been widely accepted in the U.S. government. Many of the social media strategies and day-to-day tactics have also been adopted around the world as part of local Open Government Initiatives and the worldwide Open Government Partnership. Nevertheless, the acceptance and broader adoption of sophisticated tactics that go beyond information and education paradigm such as true engagement or networking strategies are still in its infancy. Rapid diffusion is challenged by informal bottom-up experimentation that meets institutional and organizational challenges hindering innovative tactics. Going forward governments and bureaucratic organizations are also facing the challenge to show the impact of their social media interactions. Each of these challenges is discussed in this article and extraordinary examples, that are not widely adopted yet, are provided to show how government organizations can potentially overcome these challenges.
Computer-mediated transparency is seen as a powerful tool to attain policy goals and to transform government. This is based on the idea that transparency is something good in itself, which can be attained by using ICTs eventually improving government and citizen relations. This article claims that although transparency of government is necessary, scholars and practitioners tend to overestimate its positive effects and underestimate its negative effects. There is no reason to believe that transparency is always a good thing. Further, ICTs are not necessarily an effective means to increase transparency; there is an increased risk of information overload, cyber propaganda and inadvertent information release. Transparency might even drive citizens away from government as it gives way to a ‘gotcha’ media culture and political cynicism. Moreover, transparency has potential wide scale unforeseen and unintended consequences which eventually may affect society and economy. This is not a plea against transparency, but this article gives several pointers that the risks involved with disclosing information are much more complicated than the literature has yet fully acknowledged. This article concludes that the future of transparency may be twofold: more transparency of quantifiable performance indicators, but increased control of information flows that are at the heart of governments.
This paper starts with the observation that liberal and discursive perspectives have been dominant in academic analyses of the role of technology in the future of democracy. The perspective of democracy as a participatory practice is largely ignored by academic investigations of electronic democracy. This paper argues that new technologies increasingly enable citizens to organize their own forms of public value production in a Do It Yourself (DIY) State: governance without government. The DIY State should not be seen as utopia. Although the DIY State may reflect the hippy ideal of a supportive community, it could also take the form of a ‘jungle’ where only the fittest survive. A further understanding of this form of democracy, of the way it is affected by new technologies, and of the remaining role for government, is needed to inform public debate and practices.
Democratic government of the 21st century is believed to head towards more agility, leanness, responsiveness, accessibility, openness, and participation than its predecessors in the 20th century. However, at the same time democratic government has to cope with new challenges and trends, which are unprecedented in their potential impacts (positive and negative) on society at large. These challenges are intertwined and interact. The article discusses the interacting challenges of market regulations and deregulations, the third industrial revolution, sustainable levels of government spending and debt financing, theevolutionofsmartgovernment, andtheemergenceofnewmodelsofparticipation. Informationandcommunication technologies seemingly play a pivotal role in enabling the emerging shape of 21st century democratic government. They also appear to be instrumental in addressing and coping with the new challenges and trends. Consequently, electronic government research needs to fully engage in studying these complex phenomena and help both theory and practice understand the choices and potential outcomes.
Why does e-government look as it looks? One could argue that the explanatory power of many e-government studies is weak. In this article it is argued that the explanatory power of -government studies could be improved by making use of three bodies of knowledge: a) open innovation studies because ICT is an important source of innovation, b) technology studies, because ICT is the outcome of a socio-political shaping process and c) bodies of knowledge that address steering, because ICT is an act of steering to achieve political outcomes. Finally a synthesis of the results is being presented.
Taking stock of an area of study and determining potential venues for further contributions by asking challenging big questions have been popular in the discipline of public administration for the last two decades. This has been done through asking “big questions”, which aim to encourage thinking “out of the box”, without attempting to provide a corresponding set of definitive “big answers”. Examples abound, such as articles published on the big questions of public management, public administration education, and public network management research.
This chapter argues for the necessity of “a big question approach” in e-government research. The big questions being posed here originate from a review of the e-government research; and they benefit from several reviews of the e-government literature and by other developments in and around the public administration discipline as they pertain to e-government. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the emergent topics and issues in e-government research and practice; as well as an evaluation of the relevance of the proposed big questions for the deepening and widening of e-government research in the years to come.
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