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E-Government

E-government is the use of information and communications technologies by governments to enhance the range and quality of information and services provided to citizens, businesses, civil society organizations, and other government agencies in an efficient and cost-effective manner, making government processes more transparent and accountable and ultimately strengthening democracy.

E-government projects are natural candidates for PPPs and in most countries, the rationale to undertake e-government is compelling. All levels of government require modernization, new technologies, better efficiency, and improved services for citizens and customers. However, many of the upgrades and modernization required is not only capital intensive and expensive, but is also complex to manage and outside of the scope and skill-set of most government agencies. By having the private sector perform an e-government service on behalf of the government, all parties benefit. The private sector finances and operates a system, the government is in a better position to “ensure” effective delivery of the service, and the customer/citizen receives a higher quality service.

In many countries ICT and e-government is a national level function, where “command and control” of the economy is still highly centralized or where the economy and the market for ICT and e-government are too small for true economies of scale. The reality is that, in just about every country, there are various jurisdictions and or “spheres” of government where e-government PPPs can flourish, be it the national, regional, or municipal level.

At the national level, a range of e-government PPPs are possible including national, undertaken by national agencies such as the defense department (IT systems), internal revenue agencies (e-filing and computerization), and procurement agencies (e-procurement). It is estimated that governments can save billions of dollars at the national level by outsourcing or divesting certain national agency functions or services to the private sector via PPPs.

At the sub-national level, including state, regional, and local, a number of PPP projects are viable in the ICT and e-government field. In fact, many innovative projects have been undertaken at the local level which have “liberated” funding from traditional tax sources and moved the financing of municipal services “off balance sheet” whilst improving efficiency. Examples include local issuance of drivers’ licenses and other motor vehicle services, voting, property registration, utility services, emissions controls, education, and parks and recreation. In countries where service delivery is delegated substantially down to the local level, there is a real opportunity for cost savings if the capacity exists to implement e-government and ICT projects effectively.

Issues

  • Policy framework

    In order for PPPs in e-government to be successful, they must be firmly rooted within an overall policy framework of reform for the delivery of public services and the administration of government. On their own, PPPs can help improve the...

    In order for PPPs in e-government to be successful, they must be firmly rooted within an overall policy framework of reform for the delivery of public services and the administration of government. On their own, PPPs can help improve the efficiency of a specific public service or governmental administrative procedure, but unless PPPs occur within the context of an overall policy framework that supports broader reforms, beyond just improved efficiency in one specific service or procedure, the goals and objectives of PPPs in e-Government will remain limited. PPPs can realize these objectives best when they are part of an overall policy framework of reform in the delivery of public services and the management of governmental administrative procedures.

    PPPs therefore, are one important part of a much broader framework to separate or un-bundle key roles of governance: planning & policy-making; regulation & performance monitoring; ownership of assets and contracting for their operations & management, and; the operation and management of those services and procedures. Without a dedicated effort to realize these broader policy objectives, PPPs can add processing capacity and delivery capacity, but they will likely be unable to contribute significantly to improving efficiency, productivity, performance, and quality throughout the sector.

     

  • Relationships matter

    Success is more likely when officials realize that e-govern­ment PPPs are not a standard replacement for the run-of-the-mill procurement approach for all of government’s ICT needs. It is not about procuring the best technical expertise from...

    Success is more likely when officials realize that e-govern­ment PPPs are not a standard replacement for the run-of-the-mill procurement approach for all of government’s ICT needs. It is not about procuring the best technical expertise from the private sector and dumping all the project risks on the private partner. Instead, every successful PPP is a carefully crafted relationship that has been designed with care and under­standing of realities on the ground.

    These models must be developed by a team of multi-disciplinary experts. They must be based on legitimate and well-established manage­ment concepts for developing customized solutions for risk management, capital optimization, and creation of project-specific governance structures in project financ­ing. When these pieces are in place—as the examples here demonstrate—e-government can serve the people as well as the government, sealing the unofficial compact between the two to work together for the benefit of all.

  • Commitment and flexibility

    It is important to keep in mind that the implementation of complex PPPs in e-government requires the utmost commitment of all partners to the broader vision of improved efficiency and services to citizens. It also requires that all partners...

    It is important to keep in mind that the implementation of complex PPPs in e-government requires the utmost commitment of all partners to the broader vision of improved efficiency and services to citizens. It also requires that all partners remain flexible to policy changes that may improve outcomes. Communicating continuously with the public and relevant stakeholder institutions throughout the project implementation process is key as well.

Tools & Guidance

    • 2009
    • World Bank Group (WBG)

    Public-Private Partnerships in E-Government

    Knowledge Map

    This “Public-Private Partnerships in E-Government: Knowledge Map” is designed to be an introductory guide to PPPs for public officials responsible for e-government initiatives. It is for those who are seeking to enhance the quality, efficiency, and affordability of those initiatives by employing PPPs.

Lessons & Analysis

    • 2014
    • World Bank Group (WBG), International Finance Corporation (IFC)

    Handshake Issue #15: Connectivity

    Handshake's issue 15 focuses on connectivity or the physical networks that allow people to communicate as well as the ability to interact with another person or the services one receives from an institution or organization. Public-private partnerships in information and communication technology can help create those connections and most importantly connect the still unconnected. Throughout the issue, we see how transformative ICT has been in the developed world and also acknowledge how far there is to go until everyone is given the same digital resources. We hear first-hand from the head of Facebook's internet.org initiative, which aims to bring free internet access to the base of the pyramid. Other articles and interviews show how...

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