A scathing report on government digital policy says it has failed in its objective of “transforming government”.
The numerous iterations of applying technology to government has amounted to no more than expensive window dressing or, as colourfully described in the paper, “putting lipstick on pigs”.
The term e-government is used as a catchall term for words commonly used in associating information technology and government, including: electronic, digital and online.
One of the major reasons for this failure, according to the report, is the assumption that government is a service industry. This leads to the adoption of a private sector model for plans to use technology to enhance government activity. The report states, in no uncertain terms:
“Governments do policy, not services… Citizens are not customers.”
Because of this service industry mindset, the authors argue, work done on researching and implementing e-government tends to be done by people with technology and management backgrounds. The people who should be leading this work are those with a public administration or political science background, who best understand the role of government and how it can be improved. These improvements can then be adopted digitally.
The paper argues that cosmetic changes have been made to the front-end websites, whereas little significant change has happened at the back-end.
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