Challenges still ahead during e-government development

Friday, 2017-09-08 10:32:03
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Locals carry out administrative procedures at one-stop office of Dai Kim ward, Hanoi’s Hoang Mai district. (Credit: NDO/Dang Khoa)
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NDO – Building e-government is aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of government agencies to better serve the people and businesses. However, after nearly two years, difficulties and obstacles are still ahead and need to be resolved during e-government development.

Only a few tasks completed?

Regarding the development of e-government, the Government issued Resolution 36a, signed by the Prime Minister on October 14, 2015. The implementation of this resolution has been clearly planned, forcing relevant ministries, branches and localities to report to the Government Office each quarter. The Government Office said that the issuance of Resolution 36a has positively impacted awareness raising, thus facilitating concerned ministries, branches and localities to pay more attention to the implementation of IT in management.

As of the second quarter of 2017, the implementation of general tasks under Resolution 36a has been completed by ministries, sectors and localities. Specifically, 29 out of 30 ministries, ministerial-level agencies, government bodies and 63/63 provinces and centrally-run cities have planned e-government building schemes.

In general, ministries, sectors and localities have completed a number of specific tasks assigned and continue to fulfill the remaining tasks of building e-government. Only a few units have not completed any assigned tasks. Accordingly, provinces and cities have publicised the progress of processing dossiers on the Government Portal. In addition, some agencies and sectors, with their own particular characteristics, have not yet disclosed dossier processing progress on the portal.

Up to now, all provinces and cities across the country have linked interconnected document management software to the Government Office to establish a unified electronic document management system from central to local levels, allowing automatic recognition of the status of document processing between agencies.

Particularly, Ho Chi Minh City has completed document interconnection using digital signature. Many high-level online public services have been regulated by the Government to be deployed in 2017, while urgently completing, issuing and deploying the e-government construction scheme for ministerial and provincial levels in accordance with guidelines from the Ministry of Information and Communications.

The principle of e-government is to take people and businesses as the object of service and to ensure the people’s satisfaction. Administrative procedures must be fast, at the lowest price and with the best service attitude. That is the basis for assessing the effectiveness of administrative procedure reform and e-government building for sectors and localities.

At present, the development of e-government at the central and local levels has achieved initial achievements as stated above but there are still a range of difficulties and challenges, particularly the impact of the fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0). The revolution requires the improvement of efficiency and quality of government agencies, which means that they must change their thinking and management practices, as well as enhancing information security and network safety. In addition, IT application in various localities is still with limitations, such as unimproved perception of some units and their staff in IT deployment and lacking of IT human resources.

According to experts, the current difficulty in building e-government in Vietnam lays in the unmet technical infrastructure. In addition, the integration and exchange of information between the local online service systems with relevant ministries and branches has not followed a unified standard.

The application of IT within State agencies is still on a small scale and information has not been connected and shared on a large scale. The management and processing of online works is not on a regular basis, while there are not many high-level public services provided to people and businesses. Moreover, e-government development is also facing problems related to mechanisms, funding and resources.

E-government should be linked with administrative procedure reform

Measures needed to improve the effectiveness of handling administrative procedures. (Credit: NDO)

According to local opinions, the deployment of IT application and e-government building is on track to meet development needs. Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of Hanoi municipal People's Committee affirmed that this is the core requirement to build a smart city, creating favourable conditions for local people and enterprises to communicate with local government authorities, while gradually improving the quality of life for people on the basis of choosing the most essential areas that need to be improved, such as environment, healthcare, education, transportation, security and safety.

Tran Vinh Tuyen, Vice Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City municipal People's Committee, said that the development and maintenance of IT applications in the city has helped improve its investment environment, strengthening the capacity of administrative agencies and promoting transparency in policy making, while facilitating corruption prevention and combating and raising capacity to detect and handle acts of corruption in service of administrative reform.

At present, several localities have also spent large sums of money to invest in building e-government and developing smart city services, such as Thanh Hoa has planned an estimated budget of around VND2.3 trillion (US$101.2 million).

In order to successfully build the e-government model, it is urgently necessary to carry out a range of synchronous solutions from central to local levels. It is also necessary to closely link e-government building to the reform of administrative procedures, which is reflected in the annual Public Administration Performance index of relevant ministries, sectors and localities.

In addition, e-government architecture building at mistrial and provincial levels under the guidance of the Ministry of Information and Communications should be issued and deployed in the immediate time.

Another task is to build a national database and shared software to ensure compatibility, synchronisation and smoothness in direction and administration of heads of State administrative agencies at all levels in processing of work, while increasing the rate of use of electronic documents in exchange between State agencies.

This is a very important issue to deal with the shortcomings identified, such as ministries when deploying business and investment registration and handling civil status documents not included into the existing local document systems; as a result, such a database was not transferable between ministries and localities.

Moreover, high-level online public services should be quickly provided and integrated into the national online public service portal, in addition to speeding up construction and operation of the national population database to simplify administrative procedures and citizen papers.

In the third quarter of 2017, the Government will issue a decree on a "one-stop shop" mechanism to interconnect administrative procedures at State agencies at all levels, while ensuring synchronisation between administrative control and e-government construction.

It is also critical to establish a one-stop electronic information system linking administrations at all levels to improve service quality and closely control the handling of administrative procedures for individuals and organisations.

To solve the financial problem, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations said that the Government should focus on small projects that can ensure self-cover capability, or projects which can obtain capital from external sources, as more sophisticated services require higher costs.

At the same time, it is necessary to consolidate and improve the quality of civil servants, officials, administrative staff at all levels, as well as administrative discipline and code of conduct. This work must be thoroughly understood, drastically directed and seriously deployed to each official, civil servant and employee to create new changes.