e-Government development and its impact on information management
e-Government development is now a global phenomenon and governments are investing in the transformation of the way their institutions operate, to make them more cost effective so that they can deliver efficient services to the citizens. e-Government is driven by policy goals of increased effectiveness, efficiency, information quality, improved interaction mechanisms, and in turn better governance tools. It aims to improve the performance of government institutions and has at its core the use of information technology and information. Scholl (2006) postulated that e-Government is a redefinition of information management in government with a strong institutional impact. It also means change in the way public authorities deliver services to the citizens and a redesign of ordinary ways of doing business. e-Government is therefore transformative in nature and affects the management of human, technological, and organization resources and processes (Grant & Chau, 2006). Archmann and Iglesias (2010) argued that e-Government requires thinking organizations, a change in processes and behavior. e-Government is defined by Layne & Lee, 2001 (p. 123) as the “government’s use of technology, particularly web-based Internet applications to enhance the access to and delivery of government information and service to citizens, business partners, employees, other agencies, and government entities.” Fang (2002) defined e-Government as “as a way for governments to use the most innovative information and communication technologies, particularly web-based Internet applications, to provide citizens and businesses with more convenient access to government information and services, to improve the quality of the services and to provide greater opportunities to participate in democratic institutions and processes.” Nordfors, Ericson, and Lindell (2016) postulate that e-Government links services, information and dialogue. e-Government initiatives have meant the use of web-based technologies to disseminate information to the citizens and hence, a two-way communication flow that has been established (Richard 1999; Worall, 2010). e-Government has therefore affected the information management landscape. This is a domain where the societal and political aims intertwine with the progress of information technology.
Democratic developments take place when there is an effective flow of information between the government and its citizens (Yong, 2004). European governments are, e.g., encouraged to develop e-Government in order to establish a common
Enterprise Content Management, Records Management and Information Culture Amidst e-Government Development. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-100874-4.00001-6
Copyright © 2017 Proscovia Svard. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
framework where technologies can be deployed to expand services, increase transparency, efficiency, and inclusion (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2012). The European e-Government Action Plan 2011—2015 promoted transparency and the reuse of data through the Public Sector Information Directive. The aim was to encourage the reuse of government information in order to produce new services but also to create more transparent decision making processes (The European Union, 2003). Governments around the world are promoting free access to government information. In the information society that we are all part of today, information is considered a major asset and vehicle for economic, cultural, and political achievements, enhanced by the use of information technology. Freedoms of expression and access to information are now cornerstones of modern democracies. Information is regarded as the oxygen of democracy and hence a promoter of good governance. Freedom of information (FOI) is underpinned by maximum disclosure and if information access is denied, there should be justification as to why (Article 19, 2002). Transparency is meant to create increased legitimacy, democratic participation, and trust in government institutions. Therefore, the principles of FOI laws include: transparency, accountability, public participation, and information to citizens (Worthy, 2010). The importance of the right to access information held by public bodies, sometimes referred to as the right to know, has e.g., existed in Sweden for over 200 years (Mendel, 2008).
Another aspect related to FOI laws that is not often discussed is the sustainability of long-term transparency. Jaeger and Bertot (2010) argued that the sustainability of long-term transparency requires that citizens can access the information that they seek regardless of format. The current digital environment has meant that governments disseminate information through social media and internet enabled technologies. This has long-term implications especially where the management of information is not proactively planned for. Therefore, governments need to put in place strategies that would allow long-term access to government information. The challenges of managing and preserving digital information over time are well known and call for enormous resources and a proactive approach (Bearman, 1994; Dollar, 2000; Duranti & Preston, 2008).