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Mittwoch, 24.05.2017
eGovernment Forschung | eGovernment Research 2001 - 2017

When the previous administration introduced the mygov.mt service that promised the digitisation of many simple government services, many welcomed this forward looking strategy.

The full benefits of digitisation could be huge even if it is inevitable that it will take time for e-government efforts to bear fruit.

I must admit that when I subscribed to mygov.mt in 2012 the service was not user friendly at all and I had hope that it was a question of time before online public service services like the payment of licences would soon become an easy task even for those who are not IT savvy. How mistaken I was!

I recently tried to renew my driving licence online as suggested by Transport Malta.

I made three unsuccessful attempts as the instructions on how to get this service online were at best obtuse. In the end I gave up and resorted to the well tried but pedantic method of filling in a form by hand and mailing it to Transport Malta.

To be fair, some of the e-government services are easier to access online. For instance, I pay my end-of-year tax dues online quite easily. But much more can be done to make the digitisation of government services an effective tool in ordinary people’s hands, a tool that will save the government millions of euros every year and make life for most people that much more convenient.

According to a 2014 McKinsey report on public-sector digitisation in the UK, 130 countries have online public services. Estonia seems to be the shining star of EU member states.

After being ranked among the top three performing countries in educational achievement according to the latest PISA report, Estonia’s 1.3 million residents can use electronic identification cards to vote, pay taxes, and access more than 160 services online. Ask any ITC strategy expert about the advantages of digitisation of services in small countries like Malta and Estonia and you will get one answer: small countries can implement e-government strategies in a much faster and effective way than larger countries.

Malta needs to regain lost ground in delivering an effective and user friendly e-government service to all those citizens who want to use it. Banks are already investing heavily in digitising their services and it would be a shame if public sector services fall behind because the ITC platform that delivers these services is under-resourced or far too complex for ordinary people to understand.

This year could well be an election year: just wait to hear our politicians promising once again that when elected they will snip the red tape of bureaucracy for small businesses and for ordinary people and provide young and old with free technological tools to get the online services that they need from the government.

The sad reality is that often such promises are just a bag of hot air.

A joint study by McKinsey and Oxford University found that “public sector IT projects requiring business change are six times more likely to experience cost overruns and 20 per cent more likely to run over schedule than such projects in the private sector”.

The public sector must also cope with additional management issues, including multiple agencies, a range of organisational mandates, a shortage of experienced ITC staff, longer appropriation timelines, and the challenge of maintaining continuity even as political administrations change.

Unfortunately, I am one of those who believe that our political class often lacks strategic vision when it comes to dealing with long-term issues that affect the quality of life of our people.

An e-government strategy for Malta is by definition a complex issue that needs the support of all political parties that are – or aspire to be – leading the administration at some time in the future.

The McKinsey report mentioned earlier explains why e-government projects are often so ineffective in making people’s lives better: “Added to the lack of political vision, the silos mentality that permeates the public sector, fragmentation, and the absence of a central owner for nationwide IT infrastructure and common components can make it hard to connect the internal plumbing to create a seamless experience for the end user.”

We have some excellent people leading our Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA).

What is apparently lacking is the political will to support these people financially and with other resources to enable them to deliver a modern e-government platform that is at least as good as that of Estonia.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): John Cassar White

Quelle/Source: Times of Malta, 23.01.2017

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