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Can E-Government Make Communities More Competitive?

Can E-Government Make Communities More Competitive?

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Published by rbell

This white paper from the Intelligent Community Forum explores the opportunity to use e-government programs to develop the local economy, with examples from communities around the world.

This white paper from the Intelligent Community Forum explores the opportunity to use e-government programs to develop the local economy, with examples from communities around the world.

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Published by: rbell on Jul 13, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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"Economic success is the lifeblood of communities.The most efficient, productive and accountablegovernment is helpless to improve the lives of itscitizens if the employers in that community are notcreating and sustaining jobs."
May 14, 2008
Intelligent Community Forum
© 2007 Intelligent Community Forum. All rightsreserved.
Can E-GovernmentMakemm nitiCan E-GovernmentMake
Can E-Government Make Communities More Competitive? 
Page 2
n a democratic society, people agree to pay taxes becausethere are some goals - military defense, disasterprevention, transportation and public health, to name afew - which can be achieved only by pooling the resources of all for the good of all. For all their noble purpose, however, taxes are compulsory; that is, theyare the only fees in civilized nations that are legally collected at the point of agun.The fact that taxes are compulsory should, in an ideal world, make govern-ment squeeze from each euro or dollar or peso or yen the greatest publicbenefit. That it so seldom does is not the fault of government but of humannature. So long as governing must be done by human beings, it will be subjectto greed and sloth, not to mention pride, envy and the other deadly sins.But this is no reason for us to abandon the fight to make government moreefficient, productive and accountable. In fact, it is a reason for us to try all theharder.In essence, this is the motivation behind e-government. At the IntelligentCommunity Forum, we have the opportunity to study e-government projects inevery region of the world, and we find that they all aim to serve one or more of the following goals:
Making government more efficient in order to make tax dollars gofarther
Delivering information and services to constituents more conveniently,allowing more to be done for more people
Increasing the accountability and transparency of government
Increasing citizen participation in governanceThey are worthy goals, andcommunities around the globe havefound ingenious ways to meet them.One outstanding example is the OPENSystem, developed by my colleagueKyoung Y. Bae, now Dean of AcademicAffairs at Seoul's Sangmyung University,when he was that city's Assistant Mayorfor Information Technology. The OPENSystem was designed to make the work-ings of municipal government completelytransparent. All routine applications forregulatory approval - from business registrations to construction permits - areprocessed in a paperless, online environment. A Web site allows users tomonitor in real time the status of their application as it goes through the
Intelligent Community Forum
Seoul, South Korea
Can E-Government Make Communities More Competitive? 
Page 3
required stages of approval. Each stage must be completed in a specificamount of time; if there are delays, the OPEN System allows users to escalatethe issue to higher authorities until it gets moving again. According to Dr. Bae,the visibility provided by OPEN has improved productivity, but its most impor-tant contribution has been to make government cleaner. Bureaucrats can nolonger profit from charging "express fees" to process applications - in orderwords, for doing their jobs - rather than leaving work stacked on their desks.OPEN brings to basic governmental procedure the kind of performance pres-sure that markets impose on business, as well as pressure to resist using thecivil servant's power to steal from citizens.
The Broadband Economy
Worthy goals, indeed - but are they enough? Is e-government as it is usuallyconceived enough? The most efficient, productive and accountable govern-ment is helpless to improve the lives of its citizens if the employers in thatcommunity are not creating and sustaining jobs. Economic success is the life-blood of communities. To focus on e-government and ignore economic pro-gress is to build a ship without bothering to learn what waters it will sail in.Today, those waters can be choppy indeed. Whether we know it or not, welive in the Broadband Economy. It is the new global economy emerging fromthe deployment of long-distance and local broadband around the world.Long-distance broadband is largely carried on the global fiber optic networkthat links the major cities of the industrialized and developing nations, fromTokyo to New York, Rio deJaneiro to Berlin, London toMumbai. Vastly expandedduring the 1985-2000 telecomboom, the global fiber networkwas heavily overbuilt byzealous competitors, many of whom went bankrupt in the"bust" that followed. FromJanuary 2001 through June2002, the telecom industryracked up $110 billion inbankruptcies, according to
. The glut of fiber capacity led toplummeting prices – just at the time when developing nations like India andChina opened their economies to global competition and the nations of EasternEurope moved into the orbit of the European Community.The near-term result was the explosion of offshoring, as companies inindustrialized nations found they could find highly qualified suppliers of servicesin countries where prevailing wages were a fraction of those in their homemarkets. According to 2006-2010 forecast by research firm IDC, the global
Intelligent Community Forum

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