e-Government: The Singapore
Arun Mahizhnan & Narayanan Andiappan Arun Mahizhnan is Deputy Director, Institute of Policy Studies, Singapore and Narayanan Andiappan is Assistant Manger, Infocomm Development Authority, Singapore Government. This paper draws heavily from resource materials provided by IDA. The views expressed are in the authors' personal capacity. ___________________________________________________________________________ Introduction The term "e-Government" is used in this paper to denote the concept of using Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a means to organise and manage the administrative processes of the Government, especially the interactive processes between the Government and the public. Though ICT has been available widely for more than four decades and many governments around the world have indeed used ICT in certain aspects of government, the concept of eGovernment is relatively new in the sense mentioned above. Only a handful of governments have progressed to a high degree in harnessing the immense power of ICT in re-organising their government infrastructure and in serving their citizenry, and have done so in an efficient and effective manner. e-Government is not mere "technologising" of government. It is not just a matter of automating some manual processes nor is it a simple introduction of technology where none existed. e-Government requires a fundamental re-thinking of governance itself and, as some have suggested, a re-inventing of government. If bureaucracy is the invention of the 19th century, we might say e-Government is the invention of the 21st century. e-Government reexamines the organising principles of bureaucracy and governance, re-defines the objectives and deliverables of government and re-deploys the resources available. In this process of reinvention, the basic intent is both refinement of the old and introduction of the new. eGovernment is NOT throwing the baby with the bathwater. Advent of e-Government in Singapore In the case of Singapore, the advent of e-Government has its origins in the Government's decision to computerise the civil service in 1981. However, had it been an isolated development focused just on the civil service, e-Government in Singapore today would not have reached the level it has. The e-Government movement in Singapore has become an integral part of a much larger national strategy to transform the island city-state into an "intelligent island" where the e-Economy will be a centrepiece of the economic development plans and where the e-Society will be an inclusive community of citizens and residents, enjoying a high quality of life. Thus, e-Government in Singapore is perceived as a strategic and integrated developmental force in the service of the nation.
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Pioneering Efforts in Public Service The Civil Service Computerisation Programme (CSCP) launched in 1981 marks the first wave of e-Government in Singapore. It aimed at manpower savings, operational efficiency improvement, better information support for decision- making and certain pioneer services for the public. It, naturally, focused on automating many traditional work functions and on reducing paperwork. One of the early strategies CSCP adopted was called SS-SF -- Start Small, Scale Fast. Since ICT was unfamiliar to both the Government and the public at the initial stages, it was felt that the prudent approach would be to start each major initiative on a small scale as a proto type, and once tested and accepted by public, to ramp up rapidly to deploy the system on a mass scale. It is important to note that simple technical knowledge of ICT alone would be woefully insufficient to initiate e-Government. ICT applications in real life are often met with the natural resistance to things new, the ignorance and apprehension on the part of the public, and the teething troubles...
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