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

Evolving Structure in the Implementation of Healthcare Information Systems: An Actor‑Network Analysis  pp30-40

Hannu Larsson

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 92

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Abstract

Public sector ICT use is now moving towards integration of services and processes across departments, for instance in the healthcare sector. This is a challenging issue as it involves distributed decision making, often across both public and private organizations, which implies a multitude of issues. Enterprise Architectures (EA) aim at providing a common framework that includes data, resources and processes, through which all aspects of the enterprise can be directed towards a common goal in an efficient manner. It as been argued that architectures should be perceived as evolving (rather then as carefully planned roadmaps), although more research on how EA evolves is needed. This paper addresses the general question of, how does an EA evolve during implementation? A case study is used to illustrate how an EA evolves throughout the process of implementation. The case is the implementation of a national patient record system in the decentralized Swedish healthcare system. The project is part of a larger effort to implement an EA in the healthcare sector aimed at further integrating the whole sector. Data is collected by means of observations, interviews and document analysis. Using an Actor‑Network Theory perspective, this paper presents four episodes during which an EA evolves through interactions. In this way the paper contributes with a deepened understanding of how EA evolves by arguing that EA programs should be seen as something that needs to be planned with regard to that it will, and should, evolve in order to respond to needs discovered in the process. The contribution is a deepened understanding of how sub‑projects co‑evolve with a national EA project, thus mutually affecting each other. This should not be perceived as something unequivocally negative as this might also be strategic, and leads to evolution of other parts of the EA to suit each other.

 

Keywords: actor-network theory, eGovernment, eHealth, enterprise architecture, evolving structure, implementation

 

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Journal Article

Pan‑European Services in Slovenia  pp122-131

Jaro Berce, Vasja Vehovar, Ana Slavec, Mirko Vintar

© Dec 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECEG, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp93 - 222

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Abstract

In 2009 we conducted a study on pan‑European electronic services. The main focus was on eGovernment and eHealth. First, qualitative interviews were performed to determine key areas of priority and essential problems in this area; for a small country suc

 

Keywords: Pan-European services, eGovernment, eHealth

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 9 Issue 1 / Sep 2011  pp1‑92

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

Ships that Pass in the Night?

 

For some years now I have been involved in the PhD symposium at the European Group for Public Administration’s (EGPA’s) annual conference.  The majority of the PhD students attending these symposia are doing their research in public administration rather than e‑government, but sometimes ICT raises its head in unexpected situations.

 

This happened a few weeks ago at this year’s conference in Bucharest when a student was presenting some of the ongoing results from the COCOPS project.  Don’t worry about the acronym (www.eur.nl/cocops/ if you want to know more), COCOPS is an EU funded project which, inter alia is trying to evaluate the impact of various public sector reforms.  In the presentation in question, the student discussed and analysed various attempts to evaluate the impact of New Public Management (NPM) on public administration and citizens over the period from about the early 1990s to the present.

 

This coincides, give or take a year or two, with the period of the Internet and the Web in government.  So in the discussion afterwards I could not resist asking the obvious question: how are you (or COCOPS) going to differentiate the effect of NPM (or any other reform over this period) from the impact of technology?   This led to a lively discussion at the end of which there was no clear answer – possibly because distilling out such impacts is next to impossible.

 

The question of evaluating the impact of e‑government is one for another day.  My observation here is that the student, and one assumes that COCOPS team (and a very distinguished bunch they are), did not seem to have given this matter much, if any, thought.  Given that Eric Brynjolfsson is on record as claiming that almost all of the productivity gains in the US economy over the past 20 plus years are attributable to information technology, it seems a bit well, quixotic, to ignore the impact of the same technology in the public sector.  Quixotic maybe, but surprising no.  The world of public administration, or at least the academic end of it, is still, seemingly, largely oblivious of IT.  In fact the previous week at the eGov conference in Delft when I remarked at an IFIP meeting that the Oxford Handbook of Public Management had only two chapters which considered IT at all (and one of those was on IT in government by Helen Margretts) a leading American academic (whose identity I will protect though he has tenure) snorted on contemptuously that that was because public administration academics were still 30 years behind in their thinking.

 

A bit over the top maybe, but there a germ of truth in this accusation as there is in the sometimes heard counter accusation that too many people working in e‑government do not know enough about mainstream public administration, its concepts, theories and ideas.  A small number academics bridge this divide and many of them are to be found at EGPA each year, but it is a gap that really needs to be addressed by both sides.  Both public administration and e‑government worlds have much to learn from each other and if they could, there world would be the richer for it. 

 

Frank Bannister

September 2011

 

Keywords: CIO, local government, Mexico, IT organization, eService, electronic service, public service delivery, eGovernment application, interoperability, integrated service, Bangladesh, actor-network theory, eGovernment, eHealth, enterprise architecture, evolving structure, implementation, participatory budgeting, eDemocracy, Symfony, Quimby, open-source, eDem 1.0, software reuse, electronic PB, TQM, eGovernment, local government, organisational change, certification,

 

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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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