European Association for Public Administration Accreditation

II. Working Group on e-Government

WG Programme Coordinator:

Ljupco Todorovski, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
E-mail: ljupco.todorovski@fu.uni-lj.si
Kristina Reinsalu, e-Governance Academy, Estonia

NISPAcee Project Manager:

Juraj Sklenar, E-mail: sklenar@nispa.org

Theme 2012: "Transition towards Open e-Governance"

In the last three years, the focus of the NISPAcee Working Group has been on building a learning platform of exemplary showcases for using information and communication technology in the public sector in countries from the NISPAcee region. During this time, the performed studies and presented showcases confirm the fact that sometimes minor, but undeniable changes took place in various public sector domains due to the spread, development, and use of ICT.

Consequently, there are remarkably different requirements now on flexibility, openness, and operation of public administration, provided that ICT solutions do not fully satisfy the expectations of a large positive impact of e-government on governance practices, citizens’ satisfaction with the availability of public services, and their readiness to adopt and use them. On the other hand, citizens have begun to better understand the opportunities provided and hopefully also their duty to contribute to the content. Social media, being an inseparable part of the everyday-life of so many people, is also an inseparable part of the interaction practices of the public sector.

These tendencies show that in many countries of the regions, there is a need to move from e-administration (offering different e-services in central, regional or the local level of administration, etc.) towards e-participation practices. The challenges of such a transformation may be different in the transition countries of the NISPAcee region. The collected showcases show that the gap between EU and transition countries is not due to readiness and infrastructure, but more due to the lack of interest in changes in organisational culture inside the public sector, caused by a tremendous shift in the use of technology (e.g. the use of social media platforms). There is no doubt that this shift, already evident in highly-developed EU countries, such as The Netherlands or Finland, will, if not already doing so, also affect the public administration in NISPAcee countries.

Thus, we should continue to collect showcases, but also shift our focus towards highlighting true innovative approaches that do not only involve ICT, but also show a change in the usual governance practices. In this way, articles to be presented by Working Group members can further contribute to the exchange of best practices and experiences between NISPAcee countries and provide valuable materials for education at a higher vocational and academic level.

The situation, summarised above, reveals four important topics for e-government research in Central and Eastern Europe which the Working Group would like to emphasise in the coming year. This non-exhaustive list of research topics includes:

- Social media platforms (or other kinds of new technologies, including open-source software and platforms) and their use by the public sector in interaction with citizens or with other public organisations. Example questions: How do we evaluate new e-tools before beginning to use them? If so, then what type of regulation is required for the use of social media? (For reference purposes, see fixmystreet.com in the UK etc).

- New (organisational, cultural, and other) requirements for governance, for public administration practices, routines and for officials. Example questions: What, if any, legal duties and responsibilities do public sector organisations have towards communicating/consulting/interacting with citizens? In a situation of extreme overload of information, what kind of ICT solutions (e.g. "visualisation” of data) do we need to develop?

- Open Data Initiative and related questions about procedures of having and distributing open government data similar to the Open Government Initiative in the USA. Example questions: Who is using the data? Questions related to the quality of this data – issue of user-friendliness, machine readability and comprehension. Questions about the content and timing allowing access to data – at which stage is it made public?

- Engagement of target groups using new technology. Example questions: If, and what kind of regulations/principles are required, implemented or should be planned to regulate the (e-)engagement of different public sector target groups within the decision-process? What are the existing practices of e-engagement?

However, the Working Group is also open to presentations on other aspects of e-government research or research within the neighbouring fields of m-government and similar. The contributed articles may take the form of a case study, a report of cross-country or cross-sectorial survey or comparative analysis of showcases or policies, or a policy proposal or analysis (for example, regulation for the use of social media for public sector organisations in a particular country and/or sector).