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

The Contribution of Sociotechnical Systems Thinking to the Effective Adoption of e‑Government and the Enhancement of Democracy  pp1-12

Leela Damodaran, John Nicholls, Alan Henney

© Jul 2005 Volume 3 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 58

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Abstract

This paper reports a study which reviewed the literature and explored the approaches adopted by a small sample of local government bodies engaged in implementing e‑Government. The findings suggest that the e‑Government implementation process underway in the UK does not embody the principles of widening democracy and increasing social inclusion. The empirical data reveal limited citizen engagement the design, development or implementation process. The paper discusses the potential contribution to be made by adopting a sociotechnical systems approach in which citizens engage with IT professionals and informationservice providers to identify needs, to test options and to achieve shared goals of e‑Government.

 

Keywords: Implementation of e-Government, Sociotechnical systems, vision of e-Government

 

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Journal Article

e‑Government Leaders, Organisational Change and ICTs: Learning from FAME and other e‑Government Experiences  pp11-20

James Carr, Pat Gannon-Leary

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

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Abstract

So‑called 'slow' adaptation to technological change is actually a characteristic of major innovations, particularly those requiring significant organisational change. The implementation of ICT to support government sector working is no exception: it is a complex socio‑technical practice comprised of interrelated technical, cultural and organisational issues. As part of the "Framework for Multi‑Agency Environments" (FAME: www.fame‑uk.org) project interviews were conducted with leaders of e‑government projects and with project managers responsible for local authority FAME strands. How far do leadersmanagers think in terms of organisational change and what technology can do to help that objective, and how far do they think about the opportunities for organisational change that ICT developments might enable? Grounded theory method (GTM) is used in the context of local authority leadership to explore these issues.

 

Keywords: e-government leaders, organisational change, ICT, socio-technical practice, FAME, innofusion

 

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Journal Article

Developing Virtual Healthcare Systems in Complex Multi‑Agency Service Settings: the OLDES Project  pp163-170

Gregory Maniatopoulos, Ian McLoughlin, Rob Wilson

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

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Abstract

Recent developments in internet and digital technologies offer increasing possibilities for transforming the delivery of care by virtual means. However, the care of older people presents challenges and issues at many levels. The realities of the world of older people and of the multiple institutions and agencies that provide care services for them have to be better understood if virtual services are to be configured appropriately. This paper presents the results of an action research exploration of the complexity of needs found in care environments and the difficulties of configuring services when delivered in multi‑agency settings (i.e. jointly across organizational, professional and occupational boundaries). The deployment of a computer‑based graphical demonstrator is illustrated as one means through which, visualizations of different socio‑technical scenarios can be generated. We suggest that this tool can support processes of shared sense making amongst care agencies and institutions. In so doing, it can provide the basis for facilitating more effective 'user' engagement with the design, development and implementation of virtual healthcare systems.

 

Keywords: socio-technical systems, healthcare, older people, virtual services, action research

 

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Journal Article

The Role of the CIO in a Local Government IT Strategy: The Case of Merida, Yucatán, Mexico  pp1-14

Rodrigo Sandoval Almazan, J. Ramon Gil-Garcia

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

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Abstract

Merida offers an exemplary case of the importance and strategic role of the CIO in a local government. Merida, like many other local governments, faces numerous problems in terms of adequate technical infrastructure, specialized IT staff, and support from public officials, among others. In addition, one of the main challenges of local eGovernment implementation is the lack of a central figure to promote progress, integrate decisions, and foster structural and procedural changes. In the case of Merida, the CIO played this role and created new regulations, homologated processes, and developed interactions among Merida’s different city government stakeholders through websites and cell phones. Merida is now a leader in citizen‑centered eGovernment services and provides fast and reliable responses to their daily needs. Based on the review of official documents and interviews with Merida’s CIO and his IT staff, this article identifies and describes some of the early challenges and success lessons of this experience. It also proposes a set of elements to incorporate in an integrated local eGovernment strategy. The article is organized into five sections: Section one is an introduction of the CIO problem in local governments. Section two provides background information about the city of Merida and its IT organization and infrastructure. Section three describes the arrival of the new CIO, his main objectives and motivations, and the results of some of his initiatives. Section four proposes ideas about the future of CIOs in local governments and their role within an integrated IT strategy. Finally, section five offers some concluding remarks and suggests areas for future research in this field

 

Keywords: CIO, local government, Mexico, IT organization

 

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Journal Article

Virtual Acts of Balance!: Virtual Technologies of Knowledge‑Management as co‑Produced by Social Intentions and Technical Limitations  pp183-197

Anders Koed Madsen

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

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Abstract

Abstract: This paper presents an analysis of official documents and white papers pertaining to two web‑portals (The Policy Grid Project and FEED) that are launched in the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) respectively. The aim of the p ortals is to filter and synthesize information relevant for policy discussions and thereby improve ´knowledge‑democracy´ in different ways. The paper denotes such portals ´virtual technologies of knowledge management´ and it presents documental data as a window to analyze and discuss the infrastructural choices of such portals. The analysis is grounded in theories related to Social Construction of Technology and it shows how the framing of the portals and the concrete digital choices taken in relation t o the infrastructure are influenced by the intentions of relevant social groups as well as by the technical limitations on computers abilities to process semantic data. It is especially emphasized how technical web‑ontologies implicitly carry with them d eeper philosophical ontologies about phenomena such as ´politics´, ´scientific intentionality´ and ´freedom´. The compromise between these technical limitations and the social intentions is described as a ´virtual act of balance´. The paper accordingly co ncludes that a co‑production of technical infrastructures and social values takes place in the process of designing these types of portals. It illustrates the necessity of formalizing part of the policy‑making process if semantic machines are to play a si gnificant role in policy‑making. Computer‑based information‑processing makes software increasingly powerful and it is argued that the ´e‑governance community´ has to be reflective about this development and constantly consider the trade‑offs between struc tured semantics and looser types of classification of policy issues.

 

Keywords: Keywords: e-governance, knowledge-democracy, socio-semantic web, social construction of technology, discourse analysis

 

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Journal Article

Electronic Tax Filing in the United States: An Analysis of Possible Success factors  pp20-36

Sonja E. Pippin, Mehmet S. Tosun

© Nov 2014 Volume 12 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 125

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Abstract

Abstract: This study summarizes and analyses the demographic, socio‑economic, and geographic factors affecting electronic tax filing (e‑filing) in the United States for the years 1999, and 2004…2007 and the growth in e‑filing between 1999 and 2007. Beyo nd the descriptive analysis, two issues related to electronic tax filing are target of further analysis: First, the variables having a positive impact on e‑filing rates and e‑filing growth are analysed. Second, because a more detailed look at state and co unty data indicates high variability within and between states, some demographic, socio‑economic, and geographic variables are examined in more detail. This second question addresses the possibility that e‑filing … just like other initiatives involving el ectronic media … could increase the digital gap. We use zip‑code level e‑filing information and county level demographic, income and unemployment data for each of the years in question. Our findings indicate significant variation in e‑filing rates across and within states, and rapid growth over time. E‑filing rates are found to be lower in rural counties, counties with low population size, counties with a lower share of females, counties with a higher share of Hispanics and Asians, and counties with a hig her share of the elderly population. Surprisingly, educational attainment is negatively correlated with e‑filing rate and growth in e‑filing.

 

Keywords: Keywords: e-government, electronic tax filing rates, electronic tax filing growth, technology acceptance, socio-economic, demographic, and geographic factors

 

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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 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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