Editorial

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 21 March 2008

Citation

Irani, Z. (2008), "Editorial", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 2 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/tg.2008.32602aaa.001

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Editorial

Article Type: Editorial From: Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Volume 2, Issue 1.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the first issue of the second volume of Transforming Government: People, Process, and Policy. This issue incorporates contributions that provide viewpoints as well as a critical evaluation of eGovernment and implementation related issues, which gravitate with national challenges as reported in research such as that presented by Irani et al. (2007) and Elliman et al. (2007) Project VIEGO.

Problems associated with the successful implementation of eGovernment are significant around the world; if autonomic computing, or some form of enabled technology could advance progress, this would be of value to the democratization of eGovernment, and its associated social and economic implications. With this in mind, we lead off this issue with a viewpoint on the potential relevance of autonomic computing to eGovernment problems. Shauneen Furlong examines the applicability of autonomic computing principles to four eGovernment problems namely: interoperability, blending technology and processes, outdated business models, and systems development methodologies. The viewpoints stance is based upon current research and autonomic computing practices, solutions to interoperability and hypothecates that these perceptions could become realized through the application of autonomic computing practices within the public sector. Shauneen affirms that additional research is required to determine how other eGovernment problems could benefit from future research and innovative solutions potentially available from the examination of autonomic computing practices.

eParticipation seeks to empower citizenry and other associated stakeholders with technologies and tools at grassroots, as well as to inform broader political decisions (Erickson and Kellogg, 2000). In doing so, this level of empowerment allows individuals to own and make informed decisions, developing their own innate social and political responsibilities (and consequences) thus, providing them with an input to their own futures. Therefore, eParticipation is an empowering philosophy that seeks to involve individuals as part of a larger political eco-system, which has political, socio-technological, participative and cultural dimensions. Ann Macintosh and Angus Whyte build on these views by highlighting the importance of evaluation of eParticipation. In their paper, Macintosh and Whyte demonstrate the use of a range of perspectives and methods to evaluate eParticipation initiatives. They argue that there is a need for coherent evaluation frameworks employing such perspectives and methods, to better understand current eParticipation applications and learn from these experiences. The paper presents the findings of their on-going research that strives to develop an analytical framework through which eParticipation initiatives can be evaluated. For this coherent evaluation framework for eParticipation to be generalized it needs to state clearly which evaluation criteria are being considered, needs to define the actors addressed, and to ensure that relevant research methods are matched to the appropriate actor (considering the timing), their skills and their willingness to be involved. The findings of the case study conducted highlight the need for further research in two main areas; first, on the applicability of eParticipation tools to particular contexts, and second, to integrate fieldwork methods to assess social acceptance of eParticipation and represent the diversity of views obtained from citizens, community groups and other stakeholders.

Starting from underlying the relevance of eGovernment for public management innovation, Adele Celino, Grazia Concilio, Pierpaolo Pontrandolfo and Barbara Scozzi describe a methodology for dealing with coordination issues and problems within information-intensive processes. In particular, the potential effectiveness of the proposed methodology within an eGovernment system aimed at managing the authoritative procedures in Natural Parks is examined. Celino et al. state that Literature on eGovernment has recently investigated assessment approaches, tools and procedures to measure the liability of the implemented eGovernment systems. However, such approaches are rarely aimed at verifying the innovative role that such systems have for the organization doing the implementation. Most of the assessment efforts challenge technological issues, completeness of supplied services, and number of users “attracted”; they are rarely oriented to give a feedback on the public management organization in terms of the adopted procedures and the involved human and physical resources. The methodology proposed by the authors is considered a favorable alternative to other more complex methodologies available to assess coordination as it is easy to apply and since it requires information that is not difficult to be acquired. Nevertheless, strengths and limitations of the proposed methodology are extendedly discussed.

A range of approaches have been developed over time that would enable appropriate levels of monitoring and evaluation to be better incorporated into the eGovernment planning process. However, while many such initiatives prove useful, they are not without their critics that argue that many such approaches provide little understanding of the impact of such investment at a regional level (in Europe), and are unduly focussed upon the citizen-facing aspects of eGovernment (particularly those making use if the Internet), and general lack of focus upon back-office developments. In his paper, Mike Williams presents the results of a large-scale study intended to address such issues one of the aims of the Understand Project was to investigate the progress of eGovernment in seven European regions by surveying 1,021 municipalities across five different countries. The results obtained range across eight broad categories namely; Online and Interactive Services, Monitoring of services usage, Organization and human resources, ICT training, ICT systems, ICT policies, Internet/broadband connection, and lastly Barriers to ICT usage. The findings suggest that despite eGovernment being heavily promoted throughout Europe, there is relatively little commonality across regions evident to date. Furthermore, Williams identifies a number of areas for improvement within the eight categories investigated. According to Williams, the primary value of this paper lies in the size of the sample derived at regional rather than national level and the resulting data extending our understanding of the adoption of ICT within municipalities at regional level in Europe.

This paper written by Rosacker and Olsen deals with the important issue of information technology investment failures. The aim being to provide a useful and practical guide for both experienced and new state government information project managers, as they seek to understand the key steps and processes that must be addressed throughout the life cycle [of an information technology implementation project]. Rosacker and Olsen highlight that most of the literature surrounding critical success factors (CSFs) focuses on completed projects mainly in the private sector, and in only a few cases a mix of both private and public organization. In addition, prior research has indicated that government agencies are qualitatively different from private sector organizations. Furthermore, public sector organizations will likely use and manage information systems differently than their private sector counterparts. Hence, it is illadvised to apply the lessons learned from prior studies to public sector information technology project management. Consequently, the author argues that CSFs identified as relevant to the private sector must be assessed within the unique context of state government IS implementation projects to determine the advisability of this course of action. The authors use a proven survey instrument and methodology to empirically consider the various factors proposed in the existing literature as important to IS project implementation success within the context of state governments. The analysis of the 156 valid responses representing a total of 16 states strongly suggests that significant differences exist between private and public sector information technology projects with respect to CSFs. In addition, the portfolio of CSFs specified in prior research as crucial for private sector IS project management are comparable for state government projects. Thus, the application of these CSFs to project management within the unique public sector environment would appear to be a reasonable course of action. Concurrently, however, the order of importance or dominance of each factor may differ. Furetheremore, dominant factors are important in any case where project resources are limited meaning that choices must be made as to where to concentrate attention or resources.

We conclude this issue with an interesting viewpoint by Amir M. Sharif, which poses serious questions surrounding the t-Government initiative, especially the interim phase from August 2007 to August 2011. According to Sharif, the journey will be the most challenging and provides the most opportunity for success or failure. Will we (the national Government) be finally able to truly transform citizen and government services beyond all recognition or forever be condemned to implementing electronic government as a series of discrete IT/IS projects? By reviewing all the given progress and the schedule updates on this so far, Sharif pinpoint five key questions that need to be addressed rising around: addressing the feedback on the intitial t-Government strategy, the six risks identified by HM Cabinet Office in the Implementation plan in 2006 and the services take-up and citizen participation in policy making processes, improving the private-public sector relationship, and finally addressing the gap between the IT/IS based solution and the social and cultural components required to effectively transform government in the intended manner. With those questions in mind the current t-Government approach simply may not be sustainable in its present form as it only concentrates on the IT/IS component. Furthermore, Sharif proposes that the future of t-Government should include an integrated approach to developing a ecology of services and strategies, underpinned by an eGovernment infrastructure. Sharif Concludes that it is only by considering the wider involvement of individuals, communities, policy makers and service providers can transformational government be delivered in its fullest form.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed assembling it for you, and look forward to receiving your valuable contributions for the coming issue.

"Zahir Irani

References

Elliman, T., Irani, Z. and Jackson, P. (2007), “Establishing a framework for egovernment research: project VIEGO”, Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 1 No. 4, pp. 364-76.

Erickson, T. and Kellogg, W.A. (2000), “Social translucence. an approach to designing systems that mesh with social processes”, Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 59-83.

Irani, Z., Elliman, T. and Jackson, P. (2007), “Electronic transformation of government in the UK”, European Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 327-35.