What would it take for more e-government projects to be implemented regionally?
An overview the study, Regional approaches to e-government initiatives in the Caribbean, published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Although it has been known for several years, incorporating ICT into government processes, and to facilitate the engagement and the delivery of services between government and its stakeholders, can greatly improve transparency, productivity, along with the efficiency and effectiveness of government. To varying degrees all Caribbean governments have introduced ICT-based systems and processes, and occasionally, as occurred last week, we have reports of renewed efforts across the region in the area of electronic (e-) government.
Over the last few years and when published, we at ICT Pulse, have been using the results of the e-government survey, produced by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) to highlight the state of e-government across the region. However, earlier this year, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) published Regional approaches to e-government initiatives in the Caribbean: a study of e-government in the region, for the region.
The document, which is part of ECLAC’s “studies and perspectives series”, examined the state of e-government in the Caribbean in select countries (Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago), and regionally. However, the main objective of the study was to make a case for adopting a regional approach when implementing e-government initiatives. Hence key challenges to a regional approach on e-government projects are identified, and several recommendations are made on practices that could be adopted in order to successfully implement regional e-government initiatives.
In the country reviews that were conducted, the policy and regulatory framework for e-government, along with select e-government initiatives that either had been, or were in the process of being, implemented, were highlighted. Thereafter, the following regional projects and initiatives that either directly or indirectly supported e-government were discussed:
- the Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project (EGRIP)
- the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP)
- the Harmonization of ICT policies and legislation across the Caribbean (HIPCAR) Project
- the Universal Civil Identity Programme in the Americas (PUICA) Eastern Caribbean Modernization Project
- Automated System Customs Data (ASYSCUDA)
- the CARICOM travel card (CARIPASS).
Having had the benefit of being able to examine a cross-section of regional projects, along with the state of e-government in select countries, it was possible to identify critical challenges for projects that are being implemented on a regional basis. To a considerable degree, e-government implementation across the Caribbean has been uneven – some countries are more advanced than others – which in turn could affect the amount of common ground that countries have as a basis to adopt a regional approach. Areas that were readily identified where wide disparities tend to exist are with respect to: policies and priorities; systems and processes; and the levels of development and infrastructure, to name a few.
Additionally, a frequently occurring challenges with regional projects is the participating countries seemingly abandon their commitment to the project and the project deliverables. In other words, although a project can be completed and the stipulated outputs produced, some (even many) countries do not adopt or implement those outputs, as agree, which thus calls the actual success of the project into question
To mitigate the challenges that were identified in the report, a number of recommendations were made, including the following:
- agree on common objectives and goals
- ensure country commitment
- enable a participatory posture, and
- manage project resources at a regional level, and
- encourage common interoperability standards