Electronic government (e-Gov) essentially refers to the utilization of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for delivering government information and services to citizens (G2C), businesses (G2B), employees (G2E), and governments (G2G). The most obvious benefit of e-government from an organisational perspective is to improve the efficiency of the current system so that, in turn, it can save money and time. For example, moving away from a heavily paper-based system to an electronic system can reduce the need for manpower, that results in a reduction in operational costs. From the citizens’ perspective, one of the most important benefits of e-government (in comparison to manual systems) is the ‘anywhere and anytime’ availability of government services to citizens. Other benefits of e-Government for citizens include: the provision of multilingual information content, disabled-friendly navigation and accessibility of content and regular updates on the latest changes in government-related information, services and schemes. Furthermore, eGov services would reduce the need for printed paper; hence, they contribute to a greener planet and a sustainable ecosystem. Using the Internet makes finding information easier by means of a “look and feel” approach. Poor governance (which contributes to problems such as autocracy, corruption, a lack of transparency and accountability) is considered to be one of the major issues of many developing countries. Effective eGov implementation would enable e-Governance, which, in turn, has the potential to reduce autocracy and corruption and to create better transparency and accountability through citizen engagement and participation in government decision-making. Therefore, e-Governance could be considered to be one of the ultimate desirable outcomes of eGov implementation.
India has made rapid strides in the area of ICT in recent decades. The Government of India has also acknowledged that ICT has played a pivotal role in bringing government services to the doorsteps of the people in the last few years. E-governance is significant in the Indian context due to the fact that the effective use of ICT has enabled the delivery of government services to a large base of people across different segments and geographical locations and, therefore, marks a step forward towards creating a more inclusive society. The effective use of ICT services in government administration has significantly improved efficiency, driven down communication costs, and increased trans-parency in the functioning of different departments. Keeping in mind the various positive impacts of e-Governance, in May 2006 the Government of India approved the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) with the vision to, “Make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, throughout common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man”.
However, there seems to be numerous issues and challenges on the road to the successful realization of e-Government in the Indian context. These issues can be divided into three main categories: technical, economic, and social issues. Technical issues include interoperability, privacy, security, and multimodal interaction. Economical issues are mainly concerned with a return on investment and the safeguard of technical issues, including costs, maintainability, reusability, and portability. Whereas most significant issues in terms of growth and the widespread adoption of eGov are social issues, they include a lack of awareness, and the adoption and use of government services offered electronically by a larger community. Another set of challenges lie in extending the reach of e-Government services to rural communities. Overcoming such challenges requires the evaluation of local needs and the customization of eGov solutions to meet those needs, the provision of connectivity to rural and remote populations, the development of web content in local languages, and building a human resources knowledge force.
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