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| Home » INFORMATION » Reform mechanisms; pilot initiatives » eGov |
|01/13/2006 04:04 |
|The greatest obstacle in building an e-Government lies in human matter|
|On January 10th, 2006, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai formally launched the Government website on to the global Internet. By June, an online forum between the Government, Government members and people and enterprises will be organised on this website. This IT event raises the hope of many people about a shorter road to an e-Government of Vietnam though this roadmap is still full of difficulties. A reporter from Customs newspaper had an interview on this issue with Dr. Nguyen Quang A, former President of Vietnam IT Association, Vice Chairman of the managing board of non-state-owned bank.|
Reporter: When accessing the Government website, we can update information from 20,000 websites and link to 1,500 detailed webpages. Many experts hope that this event will generate momentum for developing e-Government?
Dr. Nguyen Quang A: Of course, the robust IT development will create conducive conditions for many socio-economic activities. Nevertheless, the development of an e-Government is far from a simple process or a kind of fashion.
Reporter: Recalling 5 or 6 years ago, the story about building an e-Government became topical and attracted public interest, is it true?
That's right. And later the story faded away as I have mentioned above, it can not be considered as "fashion". Honestly speaking, some projects on e-Government development are under way, only that once the core of working process has not been changed, administrative procedures have not been changed for the better, e-Government can not come into being.
Reporter: Do you mean that our administrative procedures are now fraught with irrationalities?
I want to list here briefly from registration of birth and death, passport renewal, report of loss of ID card, certified copies of birth certificate, degrees, academic records, application for our children's admission to school, application for house repair, construction licenses, registration for driving tests… This is only a very brief list of services provided by the State to the people and enterprises. The implementing process for these services is too complicated and troublesome.
For example, if I want to buy a house in HCM city, I must have a permanent residence registration record which you can only have when you own a house. This is a vicious circle. Another example is that if you live in Hanoi but have to work in Kien Giang for 1 year, and unfortunately lose your ID card, you have to get a flight to Hanoi for ID re-issue. To get such an ID card, you have to pay for a return air ticket, which means roughly 5 million dong. There are thousands of examples about the irrationalities in administrative procedures generating problems for people's life and enterprises' business and hindering socio-economic development.
Will these problems be solved by an e-Government?
I want to cite only a small example. If e-Government has been implemented in our country, in case of ID card loss, you can come to Kien Giang Police to request an ID re-issue. They will collect your fingerprints, check the files kept in the computer. When fingerprints are confirmed, you will be re-issued with an ID card after 10 minutes and with a total cost of around VND300,000.
The application for construction license full of lengthy procedures is a hardship for many people and enterprises. However, the procedures in foreign countries are not simple, requirements for construction license are even harder than in our country. They lay down many detailed regulations ranging from how to build a house, the roof, what colour and how long…By means of an e-Government, these complicated procedures will be completed in 5 days.
It is really convenient. Nevertheless, in order to deploy an e-Government, experts believe that it is not simple at all. I know that it took Singapore more than 10 years to build the e-Government successfully, didn’t it?
Singapore is similar to us. To approach an e-Government, it is necessary to accelerate PAR, which is very time-consuming. Once we have a smooth administrative mechanism, e-Government will be deployed in 1 year, I believe.
In 1 year? Can you go into more details?
8 years ago, as an IT expert, I was sent to Victoria state, Australia to see how they deployed the e-Government. The Government of Victoria State spent around US$180,000 hiring an IT consultancy company to survey the operation of all departments and agencies in the State. After 3 months, this company put forward a summary of realities at these organizations and at the same time proposed to the state government suitable reforms of the procedures. After the final conclusion of working processes at State agencies in Victoria was achieved, the state government invited private companies for bids to build the e-Government system. As a rule, profits made by companies would be calculated on the transactions, 3 cents, 5 cents or 10 cents… each transaction depending on its nature. Thus, after 6 months, the whole e-Government system of Victoria state came into practice with good quality while the government did not have to invest.
The fact is that the e-Government will be developed easier in those countries where transactions by card have been developed. In our country, most people still have the habit of using cash. Do you think that it is a problem?
Of course. However, it is a minor problem which can be resolved easily. I believe that in 3 years, card services in Vietnam will be developed massively.
So what is the greatest obstacle to building an e-Government?
The biggest impediment does not lie in the technology or finance but human matter. We understand thoroughly that the complicated administrative procedures are now a lucrative area for some people. Once everything is transparent on the internet, there rights will no longer stay like this. The development of e-Government at an extremely slow speed is natural in this context.
Returning to PAR activities, as Trade Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen has said, is it the first problem for the e-Government?
That’s right. As long as we have not reformed the organization, functions, tasks and working processes of the State, the introduction of computerization is only a waste of money and inefficient. The e-Government always follows PAR closely.
What do you think is most topical issue of PAR now?
As I have mentioned, PAR is closely linked to human matter. The mechanism is not to blame as it is humans who create the mechanism. Therefore, first, it is necessary to retrain skills for bureaucrats from their manners, information and documents handling, working style, regulation abidance. This is very important since the bureaucrat system is needed everywhere and if they are trained seriously and work with integrity, the society will benefit greatly. Second, it is mandatory to retrain the system of personnel administration so that they truly understand their job and work professionally.
Hai quan cuoi tuan
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