The Electronic Journal of e-Government publishes perspectives on topics relevant to the study, implementation and management of e-Government

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Journal Article

Process Modelling towards e‑Government — Visualisation and Semantic Modelling of Legal Regulations as Executable Process Sets  pp43-54

Sebastian Olbrich, Carlo Simon

© Apr 2008 Volume 6 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 64

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Abstract

The paper discusses the visualisation and formal modelling of a legally regulated process. The approach is motivated by a historic retrospective. The technical innovation is not only to consider the given law when developing business process models ‑ like many other approaches do ‑ but to explicitly derive a process structure which is implicitly specified within the paragraphs themselves. To translate paragraphs into process models the Semantic Process Language (SPL) is used, since it enables us to articulate language structures into executable workflow models. The paper illustrates its approach with a demonstration example which considers the obligation right of Switzerland. It selects those paragraphs which participate in the definition of a causal ordering. The presented approach provides means for verifying whether process‑like behaviour fulfils the selected paragraphs formally.

 

Keywords: e-Government, business process modelling, legal visualisation, legal design

 

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Journal Article

Business Rules in e‑Government Applications  pp29-38

Flavio Corradini, Alberto Polzonetti, Oliviero Riganelli

© Jan 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 122

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Abstract

The introduction of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into public administrations has been radically changing the way organizations cooperate and, more generally, the way to think about business processes over organizational boundaries. In this paper we describe our approach to combining business processes with business rules in order to integrate effectively single units in an inter‑ or intra‑organizational cooperation. Business rules represent the knowledge that an administration has about its business; with regard to this, they can express strategies, contracts and can influence not only staff relations, but, finally, citizen relations, as well. In other words, business rules are the core of an administration and affect either the business processes or the behaviours of the system participants. They are typically expressed implicitly in business contracts and they are embedded within the source code of many application modules. So a concise and declarative statement of business behaviour is converted into a set of programming instructions, which are spread widely throughout the whole information system. In this way, business rules are difficult to change and keep consistent over the time. For this reason, it is necessary to reengineer the system in order to logically and perhaps physically externalize rules from the application code. In our proposed approach, we describe a cooperation as a collection of tasks combined in certain ways according to the organization logic specified by business rules. Our rule‑driven methodology has the goal to make the business process design more adaptable to the changes of internal or external environment.

 

Keywords: business rule, business process, end-user approaches, BRAIN

 

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Journal Article

Business Process Improvement in Organizational Design of e‑Government Services  pp123-134

Ömer Faruk Aydinli, Sjaak Brinkkemper, Pascal Ravesteyn

© Apr 2009 Volume 7 Issue 2, ECEG 2007, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp123 - 208

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Abstract

This paper describes a business process and organizational re‑design and implementation project for an e‑government service organization. In this project the initial process execution time of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection request has been reduced from some 60 days to two days. This has been achieved by the use of a new business process reengineering (BPR) implementation approach that was developed by the Utrecht University. The implementation approach is based on a combination of Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA), Business Process Modeling (BPM), Knowledge Management and Management Control methodologies and techniques. The method has been applied to improve the performance of a Dutch e‑ government service department (DeGSD). DeGSD is an e‑government service department that supports and promotes electronic communication. It can be described as an electronic mail office for consumers that provides the ICT infrastructure to communicate with the government. The goal is to reduce administrative activities for both the government and consumers. Supporting technology and part of the process is outsourced. In our approach we used EIA as a starting point because it describes all relations and information exchange with all stakeholders. This is different compared to more traditional approaches which tend to have a main focus on the internal processes (when it comes to automation) whereas our approach aligns the processes and systems across different participants, such as suppliers and customers, in the supply chain. Also included in the implementation approach are management control design mechanisms to ensure that the organizations strategy is in sync with its processes and activities that are performed by the employees. Management control is crucial in enabling the continuous measuring and improving of the organizational performance. Although the proposed BPR implementation approach worked in the project at DeGSD, further validation is necessary. Therefore we suggest that more case studies are performed at both government and profit organizations.

 

Keywords: business process improvement, organizational design, business process reengineering, enterprise information architecture, knowledge management, e-government services

 

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Journal Article

Model‑Based User‑Interface Management for Public Services  pp53-62

Jörn Freiheit, Fabrice A. Zangl

© Aug 2007 Volume 5 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 95

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Abstract

Public business processes can be very complex. That makes it hard for citizens to understand these processes and for software companies to implement them into software tools. Changes of the process entail expensive effort in both teaching the citizens and adapting the software. For business processes several model‑based approaches have been suggested to deal with high complexity, such as BPMN. However, modelling simplifies work of software developers rather than of citizens. We present an approach where an adequate user‑interface with user‑centric pertinent information is derived directly from the models. Our approach combines the advantages of having models for the software developers with the requirements of the users. The modelling technique we are using is Event‑driven Process Chains (EPCs). EPCs are widely accepted in the commercial area and are comprehensively investigated in the academic area as well. Due to their graphical description they are easy to understand. EPCs are implemented in the ARIS toolset, which offers the possibility to attach attributes to the elements of the EPCs. This paper will demonstrate how these attributes are used to derive a user‑interface, e.g. a relevant website or document, for each state or transition of the EPC. The tools used extract the values of the attributes and incorporate them into a web‑based user‑interface according to the EPC of the modelled business process. Execution of the model then is equivalent to running the user‑ interface. A change of the process requires a change of the model only, which is much easier to handle than changing the implementation of the user‑interface.

 

Keywords: Business processes, event-driven process chains, user-interface, modelling

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 5 Issue 1 / Jun 2007  pp1‑95

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

The level of research activity in e‑government research continues to escalate. Earlier this year I attended part of the East European e‑Government Conference in Prague. June saw the European Conference on e‑Government in The Hague and (at the time of writing) will be followed by e‑Gov in Regensburg in early September and the European Group of Public Administration Conference later in the same month in Madrid: good for the research field, if not for meagre and stressed out academic travel budgets.

While a great deal of research is being produced, and maybe because so much research is being produced, the quality is mixed. Consequently it can take time to find papers of sufficient quality to publish in the journal. I am therefore pleased to have nine good articles, with a truly international mix, for this issue.

In their article Bof and Previtali examine the state of e‑government in the Italian health services. The authors have done some serious groundwork in their research and the picture they come up with is of a sector struggling to get to grips with this technology – particularly in the area of procurement. Their analysis of the reasons underlying these problems is blunt and their prescriptions will be of interest to many organisations.

Carr and Gannon O’Leary examine the UK’s Framework for Multi‑Agency Environment (FAME) research programme. The lessons from this research include the perhaps not surprising one that complex projects take time to implement, but they make the innovative suggestion that one approach to assisting such processes is closer engagement between agencies and universities with expertise in social and information technology sciences.

I first heard Castelnovo and Simonetta’s paper at the ECEG conference in Genoa last year and I recall being quite taken by it at the time. It appears here in a more fully developed form. The article explores the concept of public value, a topic that in my view does not receive anything like enough attention from the research community. Based on their conceptualisation of public service value, they propose a novel approach to the evaluation of e‑government projects. While they do this in the context of small local government projects, many of the ideas here are applicable in a wider arena

Canada is usually held up as one of the paragons of e‑government. In the various international benchmarks, Canada is consistently in the top two or three. In their article, Kumar et al look underneath the hood at what is actually going on in Canadian e‑government, where it seems use of government websites for information is much more important to most citizens than the ability to carry out on‑line transactions. Starting from this, and using an extensive study of the literature, the authors develop and propose a conceptual model of e‑government adoption, somewhat analogous to some of the more developed technology adoption models.

e‑Readiness is a useful concept, but how does one measure it? In their article, Zaied et al address this question in the context of countries in the Arab world. Drawing on an extensive list of scholarly and professional sources, they develop a measurement instrument and then use this to explore the state of readiness in Kuwait using three constructs, human skills, infrastructure and connectivity. Their approach may be of interest to other researchers in developing countries as a way of assessing the state of readiness of their own countries for e‑government.

One of the persistent issues in e‑government is the diversity and duplication of data, just one aspect of the widespread silo phenomenon in public administration. Chiang and Hseih’s article describes the findings of an extended research project into information integration in Taipei County in South Korea. Anybody who has any experience of merging and/or integrating large data set will appreciate both the business and technical challenges that this presents. However once done, the benefits, as the authors show, are considerable ranging from cost reduction to lower administrative workloads and ease of standardisation.

Another aspect of Italian public services, the justice system, is examined by Contini and Cordella, who use it as a case study for an exploration of systems design and development methodologies. Public sector systems in general tend to be complicated, but justice systems are particularly challenging when one moves from basic automation to applying technology to higher level processes such as the creation of new shared working practices. The authors argue that the methodologies used for system development in the past are no longer appropriate for these more complex problems and that what they describe as information infrastructure deployment projects need to be considered as socio‑technical rather than just technical projects.

On more or less the same theme of the complexity of public business processes, Freiheit and Zengl, describe the use of a modelling technique called Event‑driven Process Chains. They argue that traditional business modelling techniques are designed to help the software designer rather than the user (here the citizen) and argue that this and other methods which have been developed in the commercial sector can be usefully applied in the public sector. Having described this concept, they evaluate it using the European Judicial Network as one of a number of case studies. For those familiar with other modelling techniques, this approach has elements which will be familiar, and elements which are new. Even those who are not au fait with modelling techniques should find the ideas in this article interesting.

Finally, in this issue we are introducing a new feature. The journal receives a steady stream of what might be called ‘country’ articles, i.e. articles which outline the current state of e‑government in a particular country or region. One of the problems we sometimes have with these submissions is that, while they are interesting, they are not very academic and consequently, when we apply the normal standards of academic research rigour, they are rejected. However, I often find these papers informative and I think that other readers might too. So we have started a special section with an inaugural paper on e‑government in Nepal by Parajuli. I found this an engaging and different story from what, for most westerners, is still a slightly mysterious and exotic land. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Keywords: assessment models, business processes, Canada, Cultivation, customer orientation, databases, developing country, digital government, e-Government leaders, e-Justice, e-Procurement, e-Readiness, event-driven process chains, FAME, HCOs, ICT, information infrastructures, information integration, information systems development methodologies, inter-communal cooperation, Nepal, organisational change, organizational requirements, public procurement, public services, public value, small local government organizations, socio-technical practice, user-interface, web site analysis, web site contents

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 7 Issue 1 / Jan 2009  pp1‑122

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Keywords: accessibility, barriers, BRAIN, business process, business rule, capacity for getting ahead, citizen participation, community building, coping and sense making strategies, developing nations, digital divide, disability, disenfranchisement, eDemocracy, e-governance, e-Government adoption, e-government readiness, Egypt, end-user approaches, e-readiness, information and communication technology, information dissemination, internet voting, IT transfer, KedaiKom, Malaysia, municipalities, policy participation, political participation, public participation, public sector, public servants, Section 508, service delivery, social and digital inclusion, social consequences, social participation, strategic planning, Switzerland, technology acceptance model, Telecentres, turnout, websites

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 7 Issue 2, ECEG 2007 / Apr 2009  pp123‑208

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

At the time of writing this editorial, I have just returned from the ICEGOV conference on e‑government and e‑governance in Ankara. In addition to excellent Turkish hospitality, the conference threw up a couple of lively debates in the parallel sessions. A good, well behaved academic argument can be one of the most productive and rewarding parts of a conference. Unfortunately good debates tend to be relatively rare as Session Chairs, armed with a “time up” card and a severe set of instructions from the organisers give each presenter their statutory 20 minutes plus five for questions before it is time for “next please”. Occasionally a discussion will continue during coffee or lunch, but sometimes debates only occur because the next speaker doesn’t turn up.

In Ankara, one of these debates was about what was meant by “e‑governance”? During the discussion, it quickly became clear that not only was there no agreement in the room on what the term meant, but also that some of those present were even unclear in their own minds what the difference was between e‑ government and e‑governance. The sight of academics disagreeing about anything and everything, including semantics, is as old as the first university seminar, but semantics matter in academia and the absence of clarity on what is meant by e‑governance was somewhat disconcerting. Rightly or wrongly, I got the feeling that many in the room had not actually given the matter much thought.

This lack of clarity is not an unknown phenomenon. Information systems have an unhappy history of relabelling basic concepts even though, in many cases, nothing fundamental in the technology has changed. Sometimes terms outlive their usefulness and have to be replaced and/or upgraded. On other occasions it seems more like an attempt to resuscitate a floundering field. Recently, even the term “e‑ government” has been under attack. At a meeting I attended last December, one of those present even suggested, I think only partially in jest, that we needed an exit strategy for e‑government. Various replacements are mooted including “transformational government”, “digital government” (popular in the US), “government 2.0” and, more recently, e‑governance. The latter is an unfortunate suggestion, because government and governance have quite different meanings. Furthermore, governance is a notoriously contentious, not to say downright slippery, subject even before putting “e‑“ in front of it.

Not surprisingly, a number of scholars have addressed the difference between e‑governance and e‑ government (including in this journal). While this is of some help, there are just too many interpretations of the expression. Definitions of e‑governance range from an information age model of governance to a “commitment” to use ICT to, inter alia, enhance human dignity and deliver economic development. Other authors more or less equate e‑governance with e‑democracy (in one article published in a leading journal a few years ago, the word “e‑governance” appears in the title and nowhere else in the text!). All this does not help when attending a conference presentation with “e‑governance” in the title although it may give a frisson of excitement as we await the definition that the presenter has in mind.

In a simple search on the web, it is possible to find quite a large number of scholarly papers on e‑ governance. Google throws up over four and half thousand of them. Prior to writing this, I scanned about a dozen of these. While a few differentiated between e‑government and e‑governance, none of them gave a satisfactory account of the material difference between e‑governance and plain old non “e‑“ governance. Such an article may be out there, but I suspect that there is a gap in the market for a really good paper on this topic.

Whatever the definition(s), it behoves academics and scholars to be clear in what they say. Muddling up two quite different concepts is not good scholarship. There is also a need to put some clear blue water between e‑governance and governance generally. ICT certainly enables us to do many things that were heretofore impractical thus reifying hitherto theoretical or abstract problems. Whether it creates new problems is not so obvious. There is plenty of scope for some further contributions to this debate.

 

Keywords: business process improvement, business process reengineering, case study, digital democracy, digital services, e-business, e-commerce, e-democracy, e-governance, e-government services, electronic tax filing, engagement, enterprise information architecture, e-participation, e-procurement, e-revenue, e-tax, e-transactions, e-transparency, e-trust, information technology, internal stakeholders, international tax strategy, Japan, local e-government, National Tax Agency, organizational (re-)design, permanent establishment (PE), public service reform, Romanian e-government, socio-technical systems design, systems architecture, telehealthcare, transfer pricing, transformational impact of e-government

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 6 Issue 1 / May 2008  pp1‑64

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Keywords: business process modeling, citizen participation, computer self-efficacy, continuance intention, customer orientation, e-democracy, e-government, electronic government, evaluation, IT project management, legal design, legal visualization, municipal managers, national culture, public value, recommendation, social value, stages of e-government evolution, technology acceptance model, trust, Web Measure Index

 

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