Author: Carmen Adamescu, Partner, Consulting, EY Romania, and coordinator of the “Establishing the framework for the development of e-government tools (EGOV)” project for EY Romania
Electronic government as seen by many authors is not just about providing electronic and digital services. It requires a set of innovative institutional measures, and the progress of e-government is a complex institutionalisation process. E-government should therefore differentiate from the mere use of Internet-based services and web-based technologies.
Digitalisation of public services can be achieved with an institutional change supported by establishing specialised areas of action, defining rules of conduct, redefining organisational structures, roles and responsibilities, and specifying measurement standards for performance and organisational outcome.
To that end, focus should be on the drivers that impact on how organisations adapt and how employees accept changes related to electronic government. These drivers can be for instance grouped into: workflow, responsibilities within the organisational structure, skills, knowledge, and social- and business-context drivers.
Traditional public institutions can be transformed through multiple reform initiatives, such as reinventing, performance-based assessment and citizen engagement. It is very important that the stakeholders involved in the public administration transformation process should determine information technology working in line with democratic government principles, overcome institutional limitations, and create a new set of social meanings and institutions to the benefit of citizens. E-government transformation will certainly not be easy. However, in order to achieve that transformation, we need proactive public managers and strategic orientations in place.
In our proposed Public Policy in the field of e-government, developed as part of the “Establishing the framework for the development of e-government tools (EGOV)” project, we listed a number of specific post-adoption steps that need to be considered in the aftermath of adopting the new public policy framework.
The identified strategic and complementary specific steps represent paramount decisions that work synergistically towards putting together a plan of effective and sustainable changes. Those steps related to the required regulatory changes should be addressed first.
The national laws include provisions on using electronic methods in providing public services, but these are not sufficient to implement the goals set in SNADR (National Strategy on the Digital Agenda for Romania 2020). There is currently no uniform and unequivocal regulation on the use of electronic tools by all public authorities with competences in providing public services related to all life events.
From a horizontal perspective, there are regulatory acts in place that could constitute the general framework for eGovernment (i.e.Act no. 161/2003 and Government Resolution no. 1085/2003), but their current provisions require additions and changes.
Sector laws include in too few cases express provisions regarding the use of electronic tools, and there are very few public services governed by specific electronic procedures. Although some steps have been taken towards achieving those goals, the laws currently in force are yet to provide sufficient mechanisms to drive the digitalisation process.
To conclude, we find it essential to have a uniform vision on providing public services electronically, through a one-stop-shop portal, in order to meet the key objectives in this regard, namely:
availability of electronic procedures for citizens and organisations who are recipients of public services, alternatively to the traditional procedures (i.e. filling in and submitting applications and forms electronically, electronic communication with public administration authorities, the public administration authorities issuing documents electronically)
availability of electronic payment of taxes, application of the “one-off” principle, interoperability of the public authorities’ and agencies’ databases so as to minimise the applicants’ need to submit, along with applications and forms, documents that can be verified with other public authorities.
In order to accelerate the nationwide implementation of e-Government, the current regulatory framework requires changes and additions to expressly regulate specific duties and the competent public authorities, to commit to binding deadlines, and not in the least to lay down the sanctions for failure to comply with such duties.
About the “Establishing the framework for the development of e-government tools (EGOV)” project
The EGOV project is implemented by the Authority for the Digitalisation of Romania (ADR), with EY Romania as an advisor and with the legal support of EY’s affiliated law firm Radu si Asociatii SPRL. The project is coordinated on behalf of EY Consulting by Carmen Adamescu, Partner.