E-government / E-governance
E-governance denotes the whole spectrum from the application of new information and communication technologies (ICT) within existent governance mechanisms - which expands modes of service delivery, transparency and efficiency - through innovations in administrative services and citizens' participation leading to invention of new governance institutions and enforcement mechanisms. The e-governance domains include central, regional and local governments, the parliament, the presidency, judiciary, independent commissions, councils and offices and self-regulators in the private sector. The benefits of e-governance for development can be seen in two ways - first, it provides cheaper, faster, reliable and transparent services to citizens and businesses, relatively better positioned to participate in policy- and decision-making and democratic governance as a whole, and second, the process of building e-governance has many spill-over effects on the economy and society - e.g. public-private partnerships, re-engineering of administrative processes, stimulating ICT usage and ICT industry growth, etc.
Building effective e-governance requires strategic consensus by all stakeholders in society over governance priorities, rather than extensive focus on technological solutions; a conducive legal framework and commonly accepted open standards; a coherent implementation of e-government and e-justice reforms; synchronized strategies on different levels of government; benchmarking and independent monitoring. The European Union places a strong emphasis on e-government through its eEurope 2005 Program, which identifies 20 priority groups of e-services, the IDA Program, which deals with interoperability and exchange of data between different administrations, and various recommendations for the use of FLOSS - free license and open source software for e-government applications.
E-governance developments in Bulgaria are still quite volatile, incoherent and heavily dependent on subjective factors such as donors' interests (small municipalities), leadership (Varna district court), enthusiasm of employees or related students, and availability of entrepreneurial university, think-tank or private sector groups that have the capacity to secure funding and to implement a project. Although e-government shows a stable improvement over the last four years, according to the e-Bulgaria repot, it is still fragmented, largely platform-dependent and not widely used. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Bulgarian e-government is the ultimate laggard in 2004 in Europe. The few exceptions are services provided by the tax administration and the national security institute.
ARC Fund considers work in the e-governance area as an important component of its 'innovating the future' strategy. Thus, among other activities, ARC Fund facilitated building and implementation of a municipal information system in the City of Sofia in 2000-2001; was among the proponents to advice the creation of a Coordination Center on Information and Communication Technologies within the Council of Ministers in 2001; provided policy input to the e-Government Strategy in 2002; piloted a national e-government foresight in 2003; and conducted assessment of municipal websites in 2004 as part of the e-Government Strategy Implementation Plan. ARC Fund serves as a watchdog to e-government related activities through publications in the press and policy briefs prepared by its staff, as well as advisor to various European Commission institutes, projects and activities.
Policy Research, Policy Briefs and Publications
E-Bulgaria Report: Chapter on E-policy and E-government, 2004
Backgrounder on E-government, 2003
ICT Infrastructure and e-Readiness Assessment: Chapter on E-government and Network Policy, 2002
Events and Presentations
E-government Foresight - a listing of events conducted within the ForeTech project
Rountable on Business Coalitions Fostering Transparency in Electronic Public Services
Tools and Implementation Projects
E-government Topic page (also available in Bulgarian) hosted by the Bulgaria Development Gateway
Municipal websites self-assessment tool
Enhancing Transparency in Local Government: Management Information System for the Municipality of Sofia