Management in Digital Era – Role of ICT in Good Governance by BasirChand

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									    Management in Digital Era – Role of ICT in Good Governance

                                         Prof. Basir Chand1
                                         Sr. Policy Analyst
                                 The Statesman Institute, Islamabad


Abstract:
Historically, Information Communication Technologies (ICT) has been facilitating the public
sector managers to achieve good governance in terms cost effectiveness and economic
efficiency. This paper argues that the ICT is not simply an effective mode of economic efficiency
but in addition, it is equally and effectively capable of ensuring the legal process; check on
public managers in policy implementation, and catering the need of public involvement and
participation.

Introduction:
In last few decades Information Communication Technologies (ICT) got the attention of public
administrators as a facilitator for good governance, along with private sector applications. In
private sector as E-commerce or in public sector as E-governance, the main focus has been on
the refinement in the business process model and economic efficiency. The pre-dominant aspects
of cost effectiveness, efficient delivery of services or customer satisfaction, were of an economic
orientation. The concept of good governance as E-governance by utilizing Information and
Communication Technologies (ICT) has been contouring around the values i.e. cost
effectiveness and efficient delivery of service.

Historically ICT has been utilized as an effective mode of e-governance for economic efficiency.
This research will explore, in addition, ICT is equally and affectively capable of ensuring the
legal process; check on public managers in policy implementation, and catering the need of
public evolvement and participation. In this regard the E-governance can be viewed as a set of
three distinct values: Legal values, Administrative values and Democratic values.

“Legal Values” might be view in terms of rule of law, equity, and neutrality, privacy and
protection, accountability, and with minimum administrative discretion, or follow-up of legal
process in policy implementation .

“Economic Values” are market driven and customer oriented i.e. cost effectiveness and with
efficiency in delivery of services.

“Democratic Values” cater the need of citizen participation through social equity, ease and
openness of access, and fairness in opportunities, without uncertainty.



1
  Prof, Basir Chand is currently serving as a senior policy analyst at the Statesman Institute and a visiting
faculty at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. In the pursuit of good governance, human dignity and
strengthening the democratic institutions, he is also conducting extensive analytical research to find
resolutions for poverty, social justice, establishment of rule of law, energy and food security.


Working Paper: Basir Chand: Management in the Digital Era – Role of ICT in Good Governance     1
These values can be translated by the choices of a particular “action” – by choosing a course of
action or “non-action” – doing nothing, by the public officials. As social scientist represents that
these values are an “enduring beliefs that influence the choices we make among available means
or ends”2. In that sense, these values gain a great importance in shaping the social fabric of a
nation.

The term policy by itself refers to a purpose course of action, in a cohesive manner. The policy is
used as a tool to find a solution to a problem of public interest or change the undesired and
unacceptable conditions perceived by the public. It might be through the intervention of
governmental action or non-action; still it is a “public policy”.

Policymakers have an edge to “pick and choose” among the conflicting and competing social
values and, force of law to impose and decide which social values should be prevailed. Public
policy often has to deal with competing social values of a society and at a same time conflicting
views on fundamental human values. Any policy enforcement can change the social fabric of the
society3.

The implementation phase which reflects the execution and steering to achieve an outcome of a
specific policy, might expands the definition of public policy from “who gets what and why” to
“how”, an ongoing mechanism to deliver services, in addition to oversight and evaluation of
government’s actions4.

Public demand of government’s intervention can be at any level; local, state or federal,
depending on the nature of social issues. Whatever the level of government’s action is, it might
affect all the members of a society or partial segment of the society or might alter the
individual’s behavior.

Some laws governs personal conduct, i.e. from where to cross the busy traffic road, or walk on
sidewalk. In addition, some of the laws impact the nations across the world, restoration of
democracy in Burma or Egypt or Hajj policy or war on terror. From speed limit on public roads
to how much water is needed to flush a toilet, financial allocation to educate a community,
budget to defend the country, how carbon footprint reduction is required to save the
environment; are all under the domain of public policy. The choice of policy alternative, an
enactment of law or process of implementation, are factors in good governance translating into
values.

In some sense these three set of values seems to be competing if not conflicting. This concern
raises a question of management. What should be the balance among these competing values,



2
 Kernaghan, K., "Integrating values into public service: the values statement as centerpiece." Public
Administration Review, 6, 711-719, 2003.
3                                                                                               nd
 Michael E. Kraft and Scott R. Furlong, Public Policy, Politics: Analysis and Alternatives (2        Ed), CQ
Press, Washington DC, 2007, p. 122-123.
4                                                              th
    Clark E. Cochran, American Public Policy: An Introduction 6 Ed,. St. Martin Press, New York, 1999.

Working Paper: Basir Chand: Management in the Digital Era – Role of ICT in Good Governance       2
structure of governance, role of public managers and responsibilities of the citizens, after all
these are stakeholders, and have a fair share in good governance.

The role of ICT as tool of good governance, in the E-governance has lot of convincing best
practices. The economic values, the market driven business component of governance is very
much evident in the prevailing E-governance models.

For instance the tax collection mechanism, by Federal Revenue Bureau (FBR) can be totally
transformed into “internet-based virtual offices”. The implementation of Web-Based process
will be human-less, emotionless and flavorless tax evaluation and collection system, in very
structured way.

The rigid and structure process of communication with a public agency might ensure a rule of
law and fairness for all. It might be the argument that public organizations with rigid
standardization and automated processes will be helpful in uncertainty reduction but will have
difficulties to evolve with the changing needs, less flexible and emotionless in problem solving.

In contrast the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) might need a humanistic feeling, in
addition to ICT and GPS system, to deal with its clients – the poor people5. Therefore its
Chairperson might want to use its virtual office on the internet only to disseminate information to
the targeted population in a prompt and transparent way. But to evaluate and determine who is
really poor, and how much might need a human interaction or face to face interview.

In above mention two type of organizations or public services the limit and framework ICT can
be correlated with the values. It can be assume that the organizations with high levels of
standardization and structure in process will reduce uncertainty in rule of law and will improve
legal values. In contrast the organizations with high levels of humanistic feeling and flexible in
problem solving or decentralization in their performance will enhance economic and democratic
values. On the flip side, the rigid structure of the administration, by the utilizing ICT might be
provide guarantee of the rule of law will hinder the evolve, adoption with time or improvement
of customer satisfaction6.

The most effective and steering instrument in the hand of public managers is authority to
implement the laws and regulations. Parliament or public representatives determine and decide
on public policy. These enacted decisions laid down the rules and regulations that are
implemented by the so-called neutral bureaucracy. The intention of original legislation, in trickle
down implementation might not be the consistence. Due to human factors, implementation
might end up in different policy outcome. To avoid this inconsistency, systems of command and
control or “top-down” implementation can be introduced in the bureaucratic structure. With the
use of ICT, a prompt dissemination of information, in transparent manner might take care of the
rule of law component of the governance.

The upcoming concepts and enhancement of democratic values i.e. E-parliament, E-voting and
E-justice will bring more complicated issue of legality and citizen participation. If the


5
 “PAKISTAN BISP POVERTY SCORECARD-BASED TARGETING FOR THE TEST PHASE -
PROCESS EVALUATION” - Project ID P112211 - Financed by World Bank.
6
    Ebbers, W. E.,. Facing the digital world. Twente: Universiteit Twente, 2002

Working Paper: Basir Chand: Management in the Digital Era – Role of ICT in Good Governance   3
implementation of E-voting through ICT provides ease of access and openness the question of
privacy and security of information might me compromise.

What exactly that management style or model of E-governance should be?
How to find a balance to get maximum advantage of ICT?

These are the questions to be explored.


Conclusion:
The role of ICT has been used for good governance. As an E-governance it has a lot of
compelling best practices. The economic values, the market driven business component of
governance is very much evident in the prevailing E-governance models.

E-governance could be viewed as a set of three distinct values: Legal values, Administrative
values and Democratic values. These set of values are competing and conflicting. This concern
raises a question of management. A dedicated balance is needed among these competing values,
structure of governance, role of public managers and responsibilities of the citizens, after all
these are stakeholders, and have a fair share in good governance.

A careful scrutiny in the style of management is warranted to find a balance, in competing and
conflicting values, in the administration of E-Governance, while reaping the maximum fruit of
ICT.




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