Serving the public is the duty of every government. IT advancement provides an opportunity for the government to improve the quality of services to citizens. This not only means providing services more quickly or save costs in the budget, but also improving the accountability and transparency of public policy.
The concept of e-government is a further formulation on the use of information technology.
Indonesia has already eyed the implementation of e-government since the beginning of the 2000s. The objective of Ministry of Communications and Information Technology formation at that time was to explore the concept of electronic government.
From total efficiency to transparency
The efficiency gained from the implementation of electronic government is obtained from the transition of paper-based administrative to the electronic system. In 2010, the US government reported that various departments of cabinet in the US could improve efficiency by implementing application of electronic system of record keeping at the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs.
The savings come not only from the reduced space required to store the archives and reduced cost of paper and ink purchase, but also in the time required for processing.
A study conducted by Australian government on the practice of e-government explains that the savings can be obtained either from direct savings, better business processes, and lower costs.
More importantly, the positive impact of efficiency can also be felt by the citizens. Residents no longer have to deal with government agencies through traditional correspondence, but it can be done by going to the website and filling out the electronic forms.
Transparency in government helps the citizens monitor government’s strategies and policies by communication channel for direct communication with the public, such as through websites and social media.
The Web portal can also be used to increase transparency by uploading both policy legislation on national and local levels, as well as information about the policy-making process.
Open data movement is one of the initiatives that can be undertaken by the government to increase transparency. It is a step further than simply display public policy data online because it also presents the data in the form that is open and ready to be processed automatically by machines. It allows citizens, businesses, and others to utilize such data for various purposes.
Improved public services
All the benefits gained from the implementation of electronic government should be felt by the citizens in the form of improvement in the quality of public services. In an indirect way, citizens can also benefit from the implementation because reduced operational costs means more budget allocation to other sectors that are linked with welfare and productivity of the citizens. Not only will the transparency of the policy help curb corruption, it will ensure that the aspirations of the people are heard when the policy is formulated.
The impact of improvement in the quality of online public services can also be felt directly. For example, the passport application services, tax reporting, driver’s license renewal and a variety of other public services can be done online. Residents who are busy do not need to visit government offices, they only need to send the documents and fill the accreditation forms electronically in order to get the needed documents.
That being said, the implementation of e-government in Indonesia is still far from being desirable.
One classic problem behind it is infrastructure. In December 2015, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology mentioned that the implementation of electronic government will be halting at the local government due to the lack of telecommunications infrastructure, information technology, Internet network, and security.
Human resources also become another obstacle. Of the 540 provincials, districts, and cities, the number of experts who have database certification is less than 20.
All these constraints will certainly be a hindrance for the government to provide better public services through e-government. But on the other hand, this is an opportunity for companies and businesses to participate in information technology by offering relevant solutions to the government.