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E-governance can be understood as the application of information and communication technology (ICT) with the purpose of providing government services online, as well as exchange information between the government and a variety of recipients, citizens, business', and also other government. It is meant to be an easier and more contemporary alternative to the ways that people have always done it.
E-Governance has many aspects, and "branches". One branch of e-gov. is transactional governance. The purpose of this part is to carry out or conduct business, negotiations, activities, and many other things and reach a conclusion or settlement with the other party. According to the academic journal Government Information Quarterly, it has been loosely defined as anything that the citizens, in pursuit of its governance, that is conducted over a computer-mediated network. E-gov systems are intertwined with traditional public management information systems, which have been found to be quite different from anything in the private sector due to differences in design, purpose, use, organizational role, and assessment criteria. "Transactional Governance encompasses all forms of managerial governance, including selective incentives and monitoring capacity", according to the academic journal Effects of Transactional and Transformational Governance on Academic Teaching.
In this growing era of technology we have moved to more electronic ways of performing government tasks or what we would call e-governance. In this transition to e-governance the main focus is to make sure that responsiveness, efficiency, and effectiveness is sustained at a high level.
In order to sustain a high level of output (responsiveness, efficiency, and effectiveness) we are tuning our focus to developing a performance management system for efficient and effective service delivery, which continuously measures and monitors service response performance. The development of these management systems will improve public institutions and their service responses a great deal as well as making it much more accessible for the public to use to their advantage.
Tony Bovair states "[c]learly, there are a number of difficult choices facing governments in deciding their priorities in e-government and e-governance. For example, increased efficiency might be gained if more communications could be made available only through telephone and internet connections. However, this could disadvantage those people without telephone or internet access. Again, e-governance mechanisms such as e-referenda Could improve the interactive participation of citizens and other stakeholders in government decision-making but it could also slow down decision making processes and could give rise to unrepresentative pressures being placed on governments and parliaments if security systems are not sufficiently watertight to eliminate bogus or multiple voting. In order to deal with this potential problem, governments will need to consider ways of setting priorities between the goals of e-government and e-governance. However, this will be problematic, both because the explicit setting of priorities is always difficult in a political setting and also because the goals of e-government and e-governance are so closely interrelated."
Understanding the involvement and interaction between government and its citizens through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is crucial when discussing E-governance in the United States. Holden defines e-government as "the delivery of government services and information electronically 24 hours per day, seven days per week." After the Internet boom and the implementation of governmental portals and websites during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, people in the United States now have the ability to access any number of programs online from e-voting and health care to tax returns and even accessing governmental data that was not previously available creating a more transparent and accountable face to the government.
According to Andrew Chadwick and Christopher May in their article, Interaction between States and Citizens in the Age of the Internet: "e-Government" in the United States, Britain, and the European Union, there are three major models of interaction associated with e-government, the managerial, the consultative and the participatory. Although at any given time these models of interaction can stand alone as the ideal form of involvement between the parties, more often than not, they overlap and provide multiple forms of interaction. To begin, the managerial model stresses a vertical flow of information from the government to its citizens. This model is concerned with efficiency, especially with the increase in speed when delivering information and services, as well as a reduction of the costs. This model establishes a client type relationship between the government and its citizens. Second, the consultative model also stresses vertical information flow but is more concerned with responding to needs of societal interest as expressed electronically by the citizens. This includes online elections, and other input from voters and requires an enormous amount of citizen involvement. The participatory model is the final and most interactive of the three major models of involvement between government and citizens. Unlike the other two, the participatory model strives for horizontal and multi directional flow of information that creates a cyber society that can be more effective for the general public. This model becomes relevant when universal access and widespread usage of the technology have become part of the norm in terms of government-citizen interaction. Although these models show some potential ways for citizen and government interaction, there are many benefits and flaws with the actual implementation of e-government and how it can affect people involved in the political process in the United States.
There are many benefits associated with e-governance in the United States and the involvement of citizens in the process. To begin, due to e-governance relevant information is more readily available to the public, while governmental programs become less expensive and more efficient. This allows most citizens to become part of the political process without leaving the comfort of their home. This increases the number of people willing to be involved in democracy and voice their opinions due to the instant access to the government. Another benefit in citizen involvement in e-government is building trust between the citizens and the state. Over the past decades there has been a decline in citizens overall trust in the government. With such easy access to information, government programs and officials, e-government provides the perfect platform to start building the trust between these two parties.
There are also a few potential issues with citizen involvement associated with e-government. The first and most difficult is a concept known as the digital divide, as discussed by Baird, Zellin and Booker, the authors of Is There A "Digital Divide" In The Provision Of E-Government Services at The County Level In the United States. This is the idea that some Americans are not involved in the political process and e-government due to lack of access to technology, lack of technical skills, or due to some financial constraint. This is extremely problematic due to the necessity of e-government to have input from all voters and citizens, not just specific groups, for it to be fully effective. It is of critical importance for everyone to be able to voice his or her opinions equally in order to maintain democratic integrity. Another major issue having to do with citizen involvement stems from problems with the actual technology used for e-governance and the potential that it will not always function as it is supposed to. A good example of this was the problems with the healthcare.gov website that was established to help citizens with healthcare information and enrollment during the Obama Administration. Since the technology initially did not consistently work, this limited the initial effectiveness of the program and ultimately made it more difficult instead of more efficient. The website has since been modified in the attempt to continue providing this healthcare e-governance service.
Information dispersal and public engagement are key to the success of e-governance. However, the process of successfully engaging the public is quite complex. Due to the wide range of internet advancements in recent years, the coordination of public engagement is difficult. Yet, the common desire to stay informed and find accessible methods to govern remains crucial.
For example, the current Obama administration has been working to develop a more democratically engaged society. There has been much controversy over the administration's Affordable Care Act. With this piece of legislation, Healthcare.gov was created to provide a source for Americans to buy health insurance. Although this website has been unsuccessful thus far, it is a prime example of how the United States government can relay information as well as provide its services via the internet. Healthcare.gov is made to be a marketplace for healthcare insurance providers. The website offers groundwork for Americans to shop for coverage at lower costs or possibly find undeniable coverage. Depending on the success of the website, it may be one of the most effective, or at least most historic, government technological establishments in American history.
The focus of technological implementation during each generation has faced a new and difficult sets of challenges. Previously Size and cost and function caused there to be a small focused use of computers. As computers became cost efficient and versatile there was difficulty dealing with the management of the new technology. Increasingly, privacy and security are becoming important issues. Since technology permeates our society and all of our lives are within the digital spectrum a whole new dimension of vulnerabilities is now needing to be addressed.
Currently the focus majority of the government application has been the increase in efficiency and information and communication technologies. In the future this trend will continue. Recently increased emphasis has been placed in democratic engagement.
As new technology is developed new rules and policies have to be crafted, and old policies adapted, each time adding another layer of complexity to integration and potentially mitigating benefits from embracing new technology. Many government agencies have struggled to adjust to the adoption of digital data. Other agencies struggle to control the flow of information such as security and police organizations not sharing information, and the controversial gathering of too much information. If e-governance in the United States is to advance the demand more sophisticated technological solutions for encryption, information sharing, and interactive communication will need to be addressed. Eventually E- government will just be government as the use of technology is the norm.
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