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Introducing E-Governance in Bangladesh and the Opinion of Common People; a Study of District E-Service Centre, Sylhet

Nadim Ahmed Department of Public administration Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet January, 2013

E-Governance is a recent policy innovation in Bangladesh that emerges as a response to the demands from various groups for receiving online services. This paper aims to explore the term E-Governance which is the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for delivering government services, exchange of information communication transactions, integration various stand-one systems and services between Government-to-Citizens (G2C), Government-to-Business(G2B),Government-to-Government (G2G) as well as back office processes and interactions within the entire government framework. Through the e-Governance, the government services will be made available to the citizens in a convenient, efficient and transparent manner. The final part of the paper highlights various problems of e-governance in Bangladesh relating to the functions of E-Governance with barriers in respect of providing services, including opinion and recommendation concerning the effectiveness and the estimated result of proper services on development in the reference of District E-Service Centre, Sylhet and makes a concluding remark on overall concepts.

E-Governance, technology, communications, common people, development

E-Governance is about the use of information technologies to facilitate the operation of government and to raise the quality of the services government deliver to citizens and businesses. E-Governance is understood to extend the scope of government by including citizen engagement and participation in governance. It can be defined as the use of ICTs as a tool to achieve better governance. E-Governance has already arrived in Bangladesh in the academic area, though it is essentially an imported concept based on imported designs. There are growing numbers of eGovernance projects in Bangladesh, some of which are contributing to public sector reform and delivering gains of efficiency and/or effectiveness across a broad agenda. Over the coming years also developing countries like Bangladesh and their citizens can be also benefited from EGovernance. Bangladesh is a country with limited wealth and with vast populations that do not make much use of the Internet generally do not have very strong E-Governance sites. So Bangladesh is facing several problems in ensuring E-Governance but, if the policymakers in Bangladesh appear committed to the greater good of delivering better public services and information and to doing so via digital means, then the best services from the state will be obtained. It will help the state for ensuring the E-Governance.

Objectives of the Study

Broad Objective To find out the efficiency and effectiveness of E-Governance at local level/Zilla Parishad Specific Objectives 1. To explore the technical and human resource problems regarding E-Governance. 2. To identify the types of benefits of the local people through accessing e-services. 3. To reveals the instructions regarding strengthens of e-services for ensuring local development.

Meaning of Governance
In a simple and straightforward manner, governance is the undertaking of activities, management of resources, organization of men and women by groups of people, communities, local government bodies, business organization and branches of the State (Legislature, Judiciary and Executive) through social, political, administrative and economic arrangements that meet the daily needs of the people and ensure sustainable development. (Hye, 2000) One of the first international organizations to use this term was the World Bank, which define governance in the following fashion: a) A form of a political regime b) The process by which authority is exercised in the management of a countrys economic and social resources and c) The capacity of governments to design, formulate and implement policies and, in general to discharge governmental functions. (World bank, 1992) Governance is explicitly and by consensus accepted to be the process of public affairs. (Boyer, 1990). Under governance, the question of how to manage public affairs becomes analytical rather than normative. There are, historically and theoretically, many kinds of governance, monarchies, aristocracies, oligarchies, despotisms, theocracies, single-party systems and military 4

rules, to indicate a few. These systems can be compared and evaluated on their performance in managing public affairs and on the fundamental values they exemplify and sustain in that management. (LaPorte, 1995)

Meaning of E-Governance
E-Governance is the application of Information Technology to the processes of government functioning to bring about:


Figure: Meaning of E-Governance

UNESCO (2003) defined e-governance as: Governance refers to the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a countrys affairs, including citizens articulation of their interests and exercise of their legal rights and obligations. E-Governance may be understood as the performance of this governance via the electronic medium in order to facilitate an efficient, speedy and transparent process of disseminating information to the public, and other agencies, and for performing government administration activities (ARC.GOV). (Source: access date17/12/12) E-Governance facilitates government an efficient, speedy and transparent process to share information to the public and other agencies, and to perform government administration activities. Electronic transactions and digital signatures is valid not only for the private sector but also for government agencies, which allows government offices to use electronic medium regarding tender notices, vacancy announcements and others. It also validates public procurement and acceptance of electronic applications. Saxena (2006: 501) mentions the following dimensions of e-governance: E-services- the electronic delivery of government information, programs, and services; E-commerce- the electronic exchange of money for goods and services, such as citizens playing taxes and utility bills, renewing vehicles registration, and playing for recreating programs, or government buying office supplies and auctioning surplus equipment; and E- management- the use of ICTs to improve the management of government (from streamlining government processes to improving the flow of information within government offices). E-Governance is more than just a government website on the internet. The strategic objective of E-Governance is to support and simplify governance for all parties; government, citizen and business. The use of ICTs can connect all three parties and support processes and activities. (SUST Journal of Public administration)

In other words, in E-Governance electronic means support and stimulate good governance. Therefore, the objectives of e-governance are similar to the objectives of good-governance (Basu, 2004: 110). As mentioned before, the E-Governance delivery models can be briefly summed up as: G2C (Government to Citizens) G2B (Government to Businesses) G2G (Government to Governments) Citizen


Government (G2B) (G2G)



Figure: Service sectors of E-Governance The ultimate objective of e-governance is to establish good governance, which will eventually lead to development of administration as well as administration of development. Various issues of development administration which are expected to be achieved through successful implementation of e-governance in developing countries trying to reap benefits from this networking governance process. The application of ICT promoting e-governance surmounts some of the social, political and administrative challenges and may ensure delivery of health, education, and other social services through this a viable technology (Sharma, 2006).

Accountability & Transparency Participatory democracy Decentralization


Efficiency & effectiveness

Public policy E-governance G2G Development Administration

Citizen services




Accessibility & awareness Globalization

Figure: E-governance and Development Administration (Source: Lok-Proshashan Samayiki, 2006)

Functions related to E-Governance

Developing government wide information infrastructure, shared networks, data centers, business processes, and one-stop service delivery centers Governments need to reform, reengineer, and connect systems and processes that have resulted from decades of inwardly focused operating strategies. Ministries and agencies often have independent ICT programs, and some operational independence is needed. But when EGovernance funds are mainly invested autonomously or coordination is limited to single applications or donor portfolios, it results in duplication, interoperability problems, and substantial waste of resources. One role of central E-Governance institutions is to promote, develop, and support common information infrastructure and applications, including government wide networks, government portals, data centers, and common business processes (for example, for financial and accounting systems, payment systems, human resource management, and public procurement systems). They also need to coordinate or integrate service delivery channels and thus move government agencies from fragmented, multiple, discrete channels to a networked, multichannel approach to service delivery (OECD 2005). Formulating e-laws and frameworks for IT (information technology) governance To set and enforce common laws, regulations, and IT governance in support of E-Governance development and operation, governments should create institutions responsible for, among other things, developing E-Government policies and legal and regulatory frameworks for issues such as e-transactions, e-security and privacy, and access to information. E-laws are likely to affect many stakeholders. Thus, their formulation and enforcement involve more than the ministry of justice or ICT. A central agency or institutional mechanism should therefore lead and coordinate the process of designing and adapting such laws and of monitoring and evaluating their impact. Such an agency should also harmonize country-specific e-laws with international conventions and best practices.

Mobilizing, prioritizing, and allocating resources for e-government infrastructure and services Most developing countries suffer from huge deficits in the reach and quality of public services. Thus, there is often a temptation to do everything at once, and political pressures, growing expectations, and interest groups often encourage new ICT agencies or E-Governance service oriented management arrangements to take on too many projects and spread resources across too many initiatives. Although many governments invest heavily in ICT and E-Governance programs, investment levels are seldom a good gauge of progress or results. In fact, even substantial investments in e-governance often fail to bring about the results they are intended to achieve (Fountain 2001; Heeks 2003). Monitoring, evaluating, and communicating lessons of experience, providing feedback, and ensuring accountability: Evaluating E-Governance programs is challenging. Even most developed countries have done only limited assessments of how well ICT investments have been used. Governments need to develop systematic monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that can serve as tools for improving program management, answering questions from stakeholders, meeting official reporting requirements, increasing the understanding of program strategies and goals, and promoting interest in and support for E-Governance programs and activities. Furthermore, information from monitoring and evaluation must be used to redesign, change direction, and implement new strategies where necessary.

Functions at the Local level

To achieve maximum capabilities of ICT tools in e-governance practice at the local level sectors by adjusting their organizational structure and usage leading. Requiring strong leadership to promote local e-governance objectives and works to increase acceptance the e-governance strategies among stakeholders.


In addition to having a local strategy, individual organizations include local egovernment approach in their strategic plans to ensure each employee is continuously looking for ways to improve processes and service delivery.

Aiming at a fully functioning information system, e-governance strategy is trying to achieve the following criteria: establishment of a local network connecting all the computers in the local administration, or at least one computer in each organization or office should be in the network

E-governance functions itself accordant with the strategy that large municipalities will use a dedicated line (broadband, fiber, ISDN, or other available high speed connectivity), providing 24-h connection with the Internet. Smaller local governments may afford to a more limited connection at an affordable price.

To implement a pragmatic information system at the local government level, egovernance strategy is working for achieving the following information infrastructure thought as a prerequisite: at least one computer in each department or office (simple PIII or PIV or even clones); one high-end computer (may be a Pentium V) functioning as server.

(Source: ment_Level, accessed date 5/12/2012)

Barriers to provide services on the Development

1. Inadequate ICT Infrastructure within the government: Most ministries have a largely inadequate number of working computers. Very few government offices have their computers connected to the Internet. Even fewer have internal networks. However, it is also true that a number of government offices have computers that remain almost completely unused due to lack of integrated planning. 2. Inadequate access to ICT by government officials: It is generally the case that computers in government offices generally find their way into the offices of the high-level officials. Sometimes it is seen that they possess more than one computer coming from different externally11

funded projects. The desk level officers generally are not considered for access to computers despite the fact that interest about ICTs and ability to learn new technologies are higher among younger officers than older. Computers have sadly become somewhat of a status symbol in government offices. 3. Awareness of government officials about ICT: More than anything else, it is the mindset of government officials that poses the biggest bottleneck to e-Government. There are a number of reasons why they resist the use of computers beyond usual typing of letters and documents. Some of the primary reasons are mentioned: (1) they are resistant to any kind of change in their familiar working environment; (2) they fear that computerization of different government activities may make some people redundant; (3) they think that computers are meant for lowlevel typist kind of work. 4. Non-acceptability of IT systems: It is often seen that even after an IT system is implemented in a government office, it becomes hard for government officials to convince them to use it. Besides the general lack of awareness about ICTs and the fears discussed earlier, some other factors also play a part in their non-acceptability of IT systems. They fear important data getting lost or they are doubtful about the security features of computers. 5. Lack of incentive structure for government officials: In the private sector, it is seen that people skilled in the use of IT are generally valued more than a counterpart who is not as IT proficient. In the government, however, there is no such system of discriminatory valuation of personnel. As a consequence, there is not enough of an incentive for government officials to become IT savvy. The use of IT is mostly self-motivated and a matter of individual free choice. 6. Lack of adequate training programs: Many e-Government or computerization projects suffer gravely from lack of adequate training programs. Training is of vital necessity in familiarizing users with computers and breaking their fears. Some officials go through unplanned IT Training, often in another country, and then come back not getting any scope for utilizing his/her newly gathered knowledge of IT and forgetting it all in due time. The training programs are mostly not need-based and arranged at arbitrary periods, not during the implementation phase of an e-Government project. 12

7. Lack of reliable maintenance: Another significant problem is that generally there is no inhouse maintenance personnel. It is of vital necessity that computers gets fixed as soon as they malfunction or users very easily lose confidence over IT systems. Most offices have contracts with local hardware companies for maintenance, but their services are often not immediate. 8. Lack of sustainability of IT Systems: Almost all e-Government projects are funded through external sources, primarily foreign funds. This brings about a very vulnerable situation with regards to the sustainability of these projects. As soon as the external fund dries up, it is often seen that there is no fund left even to buy printer paper. As a result of this, there is a lot of hardware sitting in government offices unused as memories of a bygone project. 9. Frequent, unpredictable transfer of government officials: Another major problem to popularizing e-Government in an office is that government officials get frequently and unpredictably transferred. It is seen that IT systems are often dependent on one or two IT champions. As soon as they are transferred, no one remains to take their position. 10. Lack of ownership of IT systems: A direct result of the system of government transfers is that there is great unwillingness to take ownership of IT-related projects. If hardware and IT systems remain unused, there is no one to take responsibility and encourage others. There is currently no government structure in place to create this ownership of e-Government at the level of individual offices. 11. Lack of Bangla standardization: Currently, there is no standardization for use of Bangla in the electronic format. Different people use different fonts, often resulting in documents not opening in someone elses computer. Another major issue is that none of these fonts maintain the international standard UNICODE - as a result of which Bangla content cannot be put up on the Internet using these fonts. Bangla documents now have to be uploaded on the Web as files only. Besides these some other specific problems are listed belowTechnology: According to Onion Ring model we got the following technological problematic issue that should be addressed for when implementing e-governance system in Bangladesh.


Lack of computer knowledge Rapidly changing technology Lack of internet facilities Lack of computer facilities Information System: According to Onion Ring model we got the following Information system problematic issue that should be addressed for when implementing e-governance system in Bangladesh. Lack of skilled instructor Lack of IT skilled people in the government sector Lack of IT skilled personnel Computer illiteracy Environment: According to Onion Ring model we got the following Environment problematic issue that should be addressed for when implementing e-governance system in Bangladesh. Lack of awareness Resistance to change paper based system to e-system Cost of computer accessories Insufficient electricity Native language standardization Lack of training facilities Lack of policy Lack of financial resource Unstructured business organization Lack of planning Lack of support from government (Source: access date 26/12/12)


Opinion of the common people regarding E-Governance

Here a study have been done on the District E-service Centre, Sylhet and the feedback is calculated on the basis of the opinion of some common people who have taken services from this center. The information which have been known by the opinions are given belowPositive Opinion 1. The most widely used service is the solving of peoples land related problems and providing quick information about the description of lands and their easier buying and selling procedure. When the e-service process was not existed, people had to wait for minimum 10-15 days to get the record of lands. But with the introduction of e-service, now people can get this information as required within 2-3 days. 2. Common people can now directly complain on any matters in a more proper and digital way by means of e-service center which sends their applications through internet to the Deputy Commissioner. 3. With the introduction of computerized e-service process, if the Deputy Commissioner wants then he can take any instant action regarding any application given by the common people. Thus the common people can expect to get proper judgment in proper time. 4. E-service center provides the chance to the common people to conduct cases against the government. Here if a government employee forgeries on any matter with a citizen, then he can apply for justice through this service. The concerning authority will investigate about the cases if necessary and call upon the accused person and listen his remarks.

5. People also get services from e-service center on the following matters- approval of
license of any trade related matters, brickfield, revolver, petrol, coil, CNG etc. Besides these it provides lease of Jalmahals, permanent lease of private lands, considers the matter of Birth Certification and Election process etc.


Negative Opinion 1. This service center is known by a very few number of people. Most of the people are not aware or willing of getting services from it. 2. Most of the people do not know how to use it or get services from it. As a result they go to the wrong sections and ask unnecessary questions to the staff. Thus hampers are creating on the matter of running activities of the employees of e-service center. 3. Which services are provided from this center is not well declared and transparent. So many people asked for getting services on silly matters or those which are excluded from the centers service content. 4. The process of submitting and approval of application is time consuming. 5. The employees do not always show willingness or support to the applicants in a well manner. 6. The employees often misbehave with the illiterate and poor persons. 7. One of the common complain of the people is that, the persons on service do not provide services spontaneously. The actual reason of this problem is there exists lack of accountability between the staffs so that the services are not providing in a proper way. 8. Providing services to even a small number of people at a time is not possible. People have to wait to submit their applications until the previous applicants complete their submission. (Source: Data collected from Field, December 2012, Sylhet)


How the Service can be Strengthen

Some recommendations have been given below regarding increase of the strength of the services1. Proper advertisement need to be done in order to make the people aware and willing to get services from it. 2. The instructions regarding how to get services and which section are responsible for which activities need to be made clear to the common people. 3. The types of services which are said to be provided should be listed and declared transparently so that no person can ask to take service on any silly or restricted matter. 4. Necessary steps should be taken in order to reform the time consuming process of submission and approval of applications. 5. The persons in service providing should be friendly with the applicants, they should not show misbehave with them. 6. The employees and staffs should provide the services and done their duties spontaneously. 7. The process should be reformed in such a manner that large number of people will be able to get services at a same time.

The Result of Proper Service on the Development

If the services of e-governance will be continued in a proper way, the following results could be achieved

It will greatly simplify the process of information accumulation for citizens and businesses.

It will empower people to gather information regarding any department of government and get involved in the process of decision making. 17

E-Governance has the opportunity to strengthen the fabric of democracy by ensuring greater citizen participation at all levels of governance.

E-Governance will lead to automation of services, ensuring that information regarding every work of public welfare is easily available to all citizens, eliminating corruption.

This revolutionizes the way governments function, it will ensure much more transparency in the functioning, thereby eliminating corruption.

Since the information regarding every activity of government is easily available, it would make every government department responsible as they know that every action of theirs is closely monitored.

Proper implementation of e-Governance practices can make it possible for people to get their work done online thereby sparing themselves of unnecessary hassles of traveling to the respective offices.

Successful implementation of e-Governance practices will offer better delivery of services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, better management, greater convenience, revenue growth, cost reductions etc.

Furthermore, introduction of e-Governance have the capacity to bring governments closer to citizens. So much so that today it becomes extremely convenient to get in touch with a government agency. Indeed, citizen service centers are located closer to the citizens now. Such centers may consist of an unattended kiosk in the government agency, a service kiosk located close to the client, or the use of a personal computer in the home or office.

E-Governance practices will help business access information that might be important for them at a click.

(Source: access date 12/12/12)


Own view
On the basis of our field study, we give some own view which are given below1. People are not familiar with the electronic services because of lack of awareness about egovernance activities. 2. Remote area is not reach high technologically developed. 3. Lack of electricity supply, load seeding is so much in rural area. 4. Corruption in administrative body, the chairman and other members are so much corrupted. 5. Lack of resource mobilization, we have huge natural resources but it is not proper utilized. 6. Budget is insufficient at e-service level. 7. Lack of peoples awareness.


E-Governance implies technology driven governance. E-government is one-way communication protocol whereas E-Governance is two-way communication protocol. The essence of Egovernance is to reach the beneficiary and ensure that the services intended to reach the desired individual has been met with. There should be an auto-response system to support the essence of E-Governance, whereby the Government realizes the efficacy of its governance. E-Governance is by the governed, for the governed and of the governed. E-Governance is very effective as well as practical concept. But its implementation process is much unsophisticated because of a lot of problems are arising. This paper mainly highlighted the recent challenges of E-Governance sector & how can improve the services of E-Governance effectively & efficiently. In sum up, EGovernance services may be very effective & practical, if the arising barriers are reduced as much as possible.


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