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

Bringing Confidence to Electronic Voting  pp14-21

Andreu Riera, Paul Brown

© Mar 2003 Volume 1 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 62

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Abstract

Electronic voting (whether it is remote or poll‑site) has a lack of transparency that makes its use controversial. Currently there is a lively debate regarding the deployment of electronic voting systems, with people arguing whether trustworthiness is only achievable by means of the use of backup paper trails. We believe that paper trails are not strictly necessary. In our opinion, the lack of transparency of electronic voting systems can be overcome to a great extent by using adequate security measures (technological, physical and procedural). Such security measures would provide clarity to the process and avoid the need to rely on complex and/or networked systems and/or proprietary closed systems.

 

Keywords: electronic voting, security, trust, e-Democracy

 

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Journal Article

The Risk of e‑Voting  pp169-178

Thomas W. Lauer

© Oct 2004 Volume 2 Issue 3, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp147 - 218

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Abstract

World wide, there are various proposals for automating manual voting processes. This paper considers two different e‑voting schemes, Internet voting and direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems, explicitly focusing on risk to the integrity of the voting process. Fair elections must assure voter authentication, vote confidentiality and integrity, and the ability to audit the election. E‑voting poses special challenges. The paper analyzes security risks that may threaten e‑voting schemes and makes recommendations.

 

Keywords: Internet voting, e-voting, direct recording electronic voting, IS security, risk analysis, voter fraud

 

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Journal Article

Using Business Process Re‑engineering (BPR) for the Effective Administration of Electronic Voting  pp91-98

Alexandros Xenakis, Ann Macintosh

© Dec 2005 Volume 3 Issue 2, Issue on e-Democracy, Editor: Mary Griffiths, pp59 - 98

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Abstract

This paper proposes the use of Business Process Re‑engineering (BPR) methods and analysis tools to address the issues arising in the implementation of electronic voting. We consider the electoral process as one which has to be re‑designed in order to effectively accommodate e‑Voting technology. We identify the key areas of e‑Voting where the use of BPR can provide beneficial results.

 

Keywords: e-Voting, e-Democracy, e-Government, elections, procedural security, responsibility

 

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Journal Article

A Mobile Solution for an Inclusive Public Distribution System in India  pp210-227

Shashank Garg, Krishna Sundar

© Dec 2013 Volume 11 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp181 - 322

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Abstract

Abstract: The Public Distribution System (PDS) plays a significant role in the Indian governments poverty alleviation programmes and discharging its social development obligations by providing food grains and essential items to the rural and urban poor at subsidized rates. While the social objective is of protecting poor citizens from the vagaries of market forces, the PDS current system has several well documented problems such as lack of transparency, accountability, poor governance and poor service delivery mechanisms. Several suggestions have been made for improvement through technology intervention. In this paper we describe a mobile technology enabled system that we have developed. We have conducted a sample survey across urban slums to elicit r esponses about the existing PDS, to understand the problems faced by users and to obtain input on the features and functionality required to improve the PDS system. This questionnaire was designed and administered as a mobile form. The SmartPDS solution t hat has been developed uses low‑cost mobile technologies and a workflows‑based request tracking system to enable the delivery of critical governance services such as food entitlements, at the doorstep of the citizen. The system leverages the expanding cel lular network to enable a consumer to place an order on a mobile phone and the entire process of PDS service delivery can be monitored and tracked in near real‑time. An electronic voucher scheme has been developed to implement a cashless benefits transfer system to reduce leakages in the system and improve tracking of a PDS transaction from the generation of a consumer request to the delivery of food items to the consumer.

 

Keywords: Keywords: SmartPDS, food security, electronic forms, electronic voucher, m-governance

 

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Journal Article

A Model for Document Management in e‑Government Systems Based on Hierarchical Process Folders  pp191-204

Raphael Kunis, Gudula Rünger, Michael Schwind

© Dec 2007 Volume 5 Issue 2, ECEG 2007, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp95 - 224

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Abstract

Document management plays a decisive role in modern e‑government applications. As today's authorities have to face the challenge of increasing the efficiency and quality while decreasing the duration of their government processes, a flexible, adaptable document management system is needed for large e‑government applications. In this paper, we introduce a new approach for a document management model that helps to face this challenge. The model is based on two new document management concepts that extend common document management facilities: hierarchical process folders and security levels. A hierarchical process folder mainly consists of files that belong to a government process and includes all documents processed during process execution. The folder grows during execution and contains all versions of changed, existing, and added documents. The process folders can be used in a single authority software system as well as in distributed e‑government software systems. More precisely, this means that the model of hierarchical process folders can be deployed to exchange process folders in whole or in part between authorities to support the execution of distributed hierarchical government processes. We give an example how the application to single authorities and distributed systems is possible by describing the implementation within our distributed e‑ government software system. The application of security levels to documents allows the encryption of documents based on security relevant properties, e. g. user privileges for intra authority security and network classification for inter authority communication. The benefits of our model are at first a centralised data management for all documents of a single or a hierarchical government process. Secondly, a traceable history of all data within government processes, which is very important for the archival storage of the electronic government processes, is provided. Thirdly, the security levels allow a secure intra authority document accessing system and inter authority document communication system.

 

Keywords: electronic government applications, document management systems, hierarchical government processes, interoperability, document processing, e-government security

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 3 Issue 2, Issue on e-Democracy / Oct 2005  pp59‑98

Editor: Mary Griffiths

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Editorial

Is an ‘e‑citizen’ fundamentally different from a ‘citizen’; is ‘e‑democracy’ ontologically different from ‘democracy’? The concepts ‘e‑citizen’ and ‘e‑democracy’ present a substantial challenge for researchers in the crossover fields of new media, politics and government : that of precise, or workable, definitions. Should the hyphenated prefix – and thus perhaps technology alone – determine the shape of research? Or, as others as well as the present writer have argued, can e‑democracy also be thought of as the whole mediated public sphere of online political and civic communication, and learning, in democracies, and thus an ‘e‑citizen’ be thought of as a ‘thing’ in the process of ‘becoming’?

Although e‑democracy has frequently been seen as a natural evolution, a ‘next step’ in the e‑government agenda of ensuring transparency, broadening citizen participation, and deepening, and making more relevant, citizen‑government relationships, it is also the product of new communication practices. For example, in the longish, hyperlinked entry in wikipedia, the anonymous, multiple‑authored online encyclopaedia, it is clear that collaborative composition and distribution of information – wiki – have effectively changed relations of power in the digital age, and will continue to do so, empowering citizens to share knowledge and exercise power. Of course, wikipedia’s information bears none of the imprimatur of national print authorities, nor any of the limitations of the print publication and distribution of dictionaries and encyclopaedias. Anyone can submit an explanatory entry, and critique an entry. The status of online definitions, explanations and extended discussion and analysis is constantly under question, and open to re‑writing by anyone. Gone is the waiting, sometimes for years, for new phenomena to be accepted and understood sufficiently to ‘make’ a dictionary or encyclopaedia entry : the process of consensus about meaning operates in a speedier time frame, and more openly, if anonymously.

The same distributive power is a feature of knowledge exchange at the global civil activist level. The threat of an avian flu ‘pandemic,’ rivalling that of the ‘Spanish flu’ a century ago, has resulted in an interactive online community dedicated to sharing knowledge about flu outbreaks, scientific knowledge, on the ground commentary about government responses, and information about health practices across the globe. Both wikipedia and www.fluwikie.com are evidence of ‘technologies of co‑operation’ to use Howard Rheingold’s phrase, and are among many other new online writing practices and genres where politically active, socially committed citizens individually, or in mobilised collectives, can now make an unprecedented mark on political and social relations at the national and international level. The impetus comes from the grassroots, the solutions are shared. The blogosphere, and other non‑professional, non‑institutional distribution networks, such as customisation and re‑packaging of media services have had an impact on the everyday life of citizen‑consumers, as well as – more spectacularly in the case of txting – on particular political regimes ( for example, in the Philippines). The same is true of interactivity between representatives and the represented in opinion‑polling, conducted by newspapers and online news distributors. Finally, e‑commerce itself has been affected. The making of multinational ‘communities’ around brand blogs is another feature of the radical shaking up of traditional kinds of capital‑consumer, capital‑citizen relationships. The managing of what the market calls ‘user‑generated‑content’ in the digital arena has itself become big business, as companies seek to contain and re‑assemble information which they have not produced themselves.

Major features of current e‑democracy debates are about similar new media phenomena : the effectiveness of online participatory consultation, the validity of e‑voting, public trust in online financial transactions, the security and extent of the data held by government, the increased potential of government intrusiveness into private lives, the accountability and responsiveness of politicians and public servants to citizen interactions, the interoperability of e‑systems of government, and the digital and political divides.

The current selection of ejeg papers, from Canada, Belgium, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, and the UK, responds to a call for discussions and analyses of the e‑citizen, within the broader explanatory framework of e‑democracy. From cultural, technological, cross‑national, political and ethical perspectives – the papers offer a rethinking of the potential of online modes of democratic practice. As the wiki examples demonstrate, knowledge can be personally or collectively made and shared, and this kind of practice confirms in many people’s minds the idea that the internet is of itself democratic and participatory. Yet there are problems with such optimism.



Christie Hurrell ’s paper on the internet as a ‘public sphere,’ based on an extended analysis of a four‑month long Canadian online consultation called ‘The Foreign Policy Dialogue’, engages with this optimistic belief in internet‑enabled citizen power, and assesses the civility which is increasingly necessary as a democratic literacy, if ‘e‑citizens’ are to function in effective online policy discussions. Hurrell mentions that citizens are ‘increasingly knowledgeable about public policy issues,’ and her detailed study of the online discourse on policy dismisses the belief that ‘most political discussion online is necessarily rude and divisive.’ Yet her paper ends with a series of questions about the impact of such discussions on government. Ways have to be found by governments to meet the raised expectations of citizens, if cynicism is not to replace respectful deliberative policy input.

Given the explosion of online communication, and multiple new forms of online distribution of information, it could be said that e‑government has frequently taken a rather conservative path. Driven by the admirable principles of transparency, cost‑effectiveness and accountability, e‑government is still dominated by finding technological solutions to digital governance, often attempting to replicate face‑to‑face practices with new digital equivalencies and business systems: examples include replacing the ballot with online voting, or the provision of online means of paying taxes. If questions of technology assume a priority role in research, systems development, access and usability issues, and business strategies, plans and costings become the central foci. Business applications and technical solutions to the wider implementation of e‑voting for example, are sought, based on the results of smaller pilot studies and programs. This is true of the two papers on aspects of ‘e‑voting’, one of the potential markers of electronically enabled democracy, which is sometimes seen stand, by itself, for ‘e‑democracy’. Xenakis and Macintosh tackle the issues of applying ‘business process re‑engineering’ to the e‑voting process in the UK. Their paper identifies the diverse issues involved in managing the complex design of such democratic practices. This design is seen, in Table 1, to encompass consideration of legal and social issues such as validation, eligibility and trust, technical issues such as reliability and compliance, with political issues such as political support and voter turnout, with the cost analyses and interoperability features of a business model. The paper on a Belgian experiment in facilitating e‑voting registration, by de Vuyst and Fairchild, deals with many of the same issues of access, security and compliance, but from the perspective of a national micro‑study which sets out the cultural and political particulars of Belgium’s need to move to new means of increasing voter turnout, given that it has, like Australia, compulsory voting.

When ‘democracy’ and ‘citizen’ take precedence rather than technology, the focus of e‑democracy research tends to be elsewhere, on the outcomes of the changes to government , administrative and democratic cultures which new media forms enable through an unprecedented range of speedy and easy interactions : between government and citizens, citizens and citizens, and government and government. What kinds of impact are these phenomena producing? One answer is that different kinds of democratic practice are emerging – and a movement from representative democracies towards ones with more ‘horizontal’ participatory and deliberative potential. This movement has the possible consequences of losses of power in the executive and administrative arms of government; and sometimes, paradoxically, less space for reflection and deliberation on decision‑making because of the speed and number of communication exchanges.

Government manages parts of this process, not always with a careful enough scrutiny of the kinds of democracy or citizen it is producing. E‑government’s mirroring of e‑commerce with its emphasis on client‑provider discourses and other practices derived from online business, is critiqued in Bernd Stahl’s paper. He argues, against the e‑commerce perspective, that e‑democracy occupies a distinctively different, ethical domain, one which presents questions of legitimacy and power which cannot be contained entirely by business processes and protocols. Centeno, van Bavel and Burgelman’s paper argues that reformed public services in the EU should become the modernising and interoperable means through which ‘public value’ is added to the act of governing. The authors state : ‘A prospective view of e‑Government in the EU for the next decade defines eGovernment as a tool for better government… The new vision also encompasses the provision of better public administration, more efficient, transparent, open, and participative governance and the implementation of more democratic political processes.’ In such a vision the management of knowledge, and the empowerment of the citizen are primary. The role of intermediaries – ‘private, social and public partners’ with government ‑ in distributing knowledge and the value of networked governments across the EU are highlighted in this paper.

In all, the papers reflect the field of e‑democracy research itself : there is a tendency to produce micro‑level studies, as a way of tackling larger philosophical concerns and anxieties about democratic structures, which the impact of new media and the loss of citizen enthusiasm for the ballot have caused. The challenges of e‑democracy present when traditional communication power relationships alter and when citizens become as adept as (or more skilful than) public servants and politicians in the online environment. The biggest challenge for e‑government is effective democratic engagement with citizens, not just with ‘consumers’ or ‘clients’. The biggest challenge for citizens is to develop the online literacies to participate, in all the new ways which technology enables.

We hope to continue discussions at the next ECEG conference in Marburg, where a mini‑track on e‑democracy is planned . We are interested in papers which present e‑democracy pilots and case studies, or address e‑democracy challenges posed by, for example:

— setting an e‑democracy agenda at government level;

— citizens' wider access to ICTs, and the skills and means to generate and distribute content;

— citizen trust in online participation and dialogue;

— deciding the correct balance between online and offline citizen/government, citizen/citizen interactions;

— exploiting the civic learning potential of emerging online tools and new media forms (games, blogs, wiki).

I hope to see some of you there.

 

Keywords: electronic journal, papers, articles, eGovernment, electronic government, eGovernment methods, eGovernment studies, e-Government Civility, Distance voting, e-Commerce, e-Democracy, e-Government, Elections, Electronic democracy, Electronic government, Electronic voting, Ethics, e-Voting, Knowledge creation, Knowledge use, Law, Legitimacy, Morality, Networked government, Online discussion, Policy, Pprocedural security, Public – private partnerships, Public sphere, Public value, Responsibility, User participation, User-centric government

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 5 Issue 2, ECEG 2007 / Dec 2007  pp95‑224

Editor: Frank Bannister

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Editorial

This issue contains a selection of the best papers from the 2007 European Conference on e‑Government which took place in The Hague . Our host was Den Haagse Hogeschool, which is housed in a building which can best be described as a series of large ellipses piled on top of one another. Finding a given room on a given level involved a decision as to whether to go clockwise or anticlockwise round this structure and there was plenty of empirical evidence of the validity of the *buttered toast law as the later one was for a presentation, the more likely one seemed to be to go the longer way around.

As usual with this issue, there are a large number of articles and they come from many countries. A number of contributors consider various aspects of government portals and on‑line services. Aykut Arslan looks at the impact of ICT on local government in Turkey , concluding that although progress has been made, there is much to be done, especially in moving beyond efficiency to broader goals of inclusion and democracy. On the other side of the continent, Karin Furuli and Sigrun Kongsrud compare and contrast government portals in Demark and Norway . The framework that they develop for doing this may be of interest to other researchers and has wide potential application. In their article, Ralph Feenstra, Marijn Janssen and René Wagenaar (who sadly died in 2007), examine the question of composition methods for web based government services where there are multiple actors. Composition is the process of combining several services (usually from different suppliers) necessary for the completion of a single task and evaluating methods of doing this is non trivial. Regina Connolly's article focuses on the factors that influence the take up and effectiveness of Ireland 's Revenue Online Service tax payment system and provides several useful insights that could be applied elsewhere. Alea Fairchild and Bruno de Vuyst consider another aspect of government service, the Belgian Government Interoperability Framework (BELGIF) and look at the problems of interoperability in a country with its own particular administrative and political complexities.

Document management is a topic that to date has received little attention in the e‑government literature. Two papers here contribute to making up for this deficiency. For anybody who would like a primer as well as an interesting model, the article by Raphael Kunis, Gudula Rünger and Michael Schwind is an informative read. Mitja Decman also considers the matter of government documents, this time from the perspective of archiving and long term storage. As well as being another good overview of the issues involved, the case for having confidence in such forms of storage is well argued.

The conference has always attracted a number of contributions on electronic voting and e‑democracy In their article, Orhan and Deniz Cetinkaya give a sweeping overview of e‑voting, arguing that there is sometimes a lack of clarity in terminology and suggesting that appropriate levels of verification and validation should be applied to e‑voting in different situations. Mark Liptrott's article on e‑voting presents a rather different perspective, examining the successes and failures of the 2003 e‑voting experiment in the UK . His conclusion is that government will need to be proactive and learn the lessons of Roger's diffusion theory if it is going to get widespread public acceptance of this technology. In a different part of the e‑democracy forest, Jenny Backhouse arrives as a somewhat similar conclusion, that engagement with e‑democracy in Australia seeks unlikely to break out spontaneously with given models. Using analogies from e‑business, she concludes, however, that e‑democracy is here to stay whether we like it or not!

Finally, two papers with broader themes. Albert Meijer opens his article with the provocative question; “Are all countries heading for similar political systems in the information age?” He then looks at this question using empirical research in the USA and The Netherlands which suggests that convergence is not happening in quite the way some expect. Mary Griffiths looks at something quite different, the South Australian Oxygen programme (designed to connect the X and Y generations) which seeks to equip young people for civil engagement via electronic media. The results of this experiment are refreshingly positive and again, as in other articles in this issue, there are lessons for a wider world.

 

Keywords: archiving, Australia, Borger.dk, citizen portal, collaboration, diffusion, digital archive, digital preservation, document management systems, document processing, e-administration, e-business model, e-democracy, e-government security, electronic data, electronic record management, e-municipality, e-participation, e-Turkey, evaluation, e-voting, hierarchical government processes, institutional differences, interoperability, multi-actor networks, Mypage, online public services, outsourcing, peer-managed intranets, pilot scheme, political accountability, Protocols, public policy process, public value, quality of service, record keeping, SERVQUAL, social value, standards, taxation, Transferability, trust, Turkish e-governments, Turkish local governments, UGC, validation, verification, virtual village, web service composition

 

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