Guest editorial

and

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 30 May 2008

Citation

Kor, A.-L. and Orange, G. (2008), "Guest editorial", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 2 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/tg.2008.32602baa.001

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Volume 2, Issue 2

We wish you a warm welcome to the second issue of the second volume of transforming government: people, process and policy. This special issue consists of papers selected from the e-government 2007 Workshop which was organised by the e-government Integration and Systems Evaluation Research Network and hosted by Leeds Metropolitan University.

This issue addresses both the practice and theory of e-government. Yousef Elsheikh, Andrea Cullen and Dave Hobbs, review the current status of the e-government Programme in Jordan, with an emphasis on the efforts to integrate ICT (especially internet) into the public sector system. The programmes and initiatives in the Jordanian National ICT Plan (1995-2006) address the e-inclusion of individuals; bringing technology to the communities through knowledge stations (KS); creation of an nationwide educational network by linking universities, community colleges, and KS to help build a knowledge-based Jordanian society; and finally, ICT upskilling of the civil workforce. The authors provide an overview of a Jordanian e-government programme which was launched in 2001 and implemented by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology. The strategy outlined in this programme gives pre-eminence to efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, customer-centric services and cross-governmental integration. The term, REACH, encompasses actions for the following areas: regulatory framework strengthening; enabling environment (infrastructure development); advancement programmes; capital and finance; and the human resource development. It was an initiative launched in 1999, comprising a strategy and action plan that was devised by the private sector in Jordan. The outcome of the REACH initiative was so successful that not only has it seen a strong public private partnership being forged, tremendous growth in Jordan's ICT sector, but incredibly, four REACH releases (1.0-4.0)!

The Scottish Parliamentary and local government elections were held on the 3 May 2007. The single transferable vote system which was introduced for the latter was a complex process. Consequently, e-counting technology was employed for these recent elections with the hope of simplifying the process and at the same time, handling the vote counting more efficiently and effectively. On the contrary, EDRI-gram (2007), reported a substantial number of rejected votes and significant delays caused by the new electronic system. As a result, the electoral commission has called for an urgent investigation on the “serious technical failures” of the system. The paper written by Russell Lock, Tim Storer, Natalie Harvey, Conrad Hughes and Ian Sommerville, provides a very good insight into the underlying causes of these “perceived failures” which stems from the fact that the social aspect of the system has been unduly overlooked. The research methodology employed by them for the observations of the Scottish elections 2007 was an ethno-methodologically informed ethnography which studies people in their natural environment but does not attempt to explain the underlying causes of the observed phenomena. The paper begins with an overview of the voting process followed by a discussion of problems faced by voters when completing the ballot papers. Some of the issues raised relate to over voting, unintentional disclosure of voters' identity, ambiguous voters' indicated preferences, and misinterpretation of instructions in ballot papers, which result in the rejection of votes. Additionally, the authors highlight observed e-counting processes which breached voters' voting privacy and thus undermined their confidence in the system. Also, the system which was not fully automated, involved substantial human intervention, e.g. tearing ballot papers that were too long, jamming of counting machines required re-scanning of ballot papers, and human competence was questionable in the adjudication process due to inadequate training of the local authority staff. The authors wrapped up the paper with the following statement that is worth reflecting on: “the technical system itself was designed to be completely trusted whilst its operators are not”!

In May 2007, the UK Government published a White Paper entitled “Planning for a Sustainable Future” (DCLG, 2007). This paper proposes reformation in the planning system which ensures the engagement of local communities and citizens in the planning consultation. However, in their paper on stakeholders and traffic assessment activities, Tony Elliman and Simon Taylor argue that, it is not sufficient by merely providing a means to get citizens involved in a consultation process. It is imperative to foster active stakeholder (including citizens) participation which sees a dual-way interaction among them, based on the principle partnership. Also, they highlight the need to abstract exemplary stakeholder participation from literature and examine the stakeholder theory in business sector. The authors propose a research project, improving stakeholder involvement in road traffic assessment (SIRTASS) which aims to improve SIRTASS by developing a set of techniques and simulation tools to support the planning consultation practice. The proposed research methodology will be case studies incorporated with interviews and field observations. The authors argue that, the modernisation of the planning system does not only urgently need to address better means for public consultation and engagement but the issue of POWER. They stress the need for citizens to be empowered so that they have genuine positive impact on planning related decisions.

Soha Maad and Brian Coghlan provide an assessment of the potential use of grid portal features in e-government. Their paper begins with an overview of various categories of grid portals which concern the nature of access, applications and workflow. This is followed by providing a list of the different levels of maturity in e-government portals. The authors have also collated a list of critical success factors for e-government which subsume these four categories: cost reduction, profound change, continuous learning and customer engagement. Lastly, they highlight four grid features that could be leveraged for use in e-government. They are: integration of distributed data across various applications; knowledge management which concerns massive information capture, storage, and dissemination; personalisation which promotes citizens engagement through advanced and secured virtual environments; and finally, e-services made possible by secured service-oriented architecture.

We sincerely hope that you find this issue beneficial and a joy to read.

Ah-Lian Kor and Graham OrangeGuest Editors

References

DCLG (2007), Planning for a Sustainable Future: White Paper, Department of Communities and Local Government, London, available at: www.communities.gov.uk/ublications/planningandbuilding/planningsustainablefuture (accessed 11 February 2008).

EDRI-gram (2007), Failure of the Scottish E-Counting System, EDRI-gram, Brussels, available at: www.edri.org/edrigram/number5.9/scotland-e-counting; www.edri.org/edrigram/number5.9/scotland-e-counting (accessed 10 May).