Institutional and legislative changes needed to transform e-government
Author: Carmen Adamescu, Partner, Consulting, EY Romania and coordinator from EY Romania of the project “Establishing the framework for the development of e-government tools (EGOV)”
Electronic governance, as predicted by many authors, does not simply refer to the provision of electronic or digital services. It involves a set of innovative institutional measures, and the evolution of e-government is a complex process of institutionalization. Therefore, e-government must be differentiated from the simple use of internet services and web-based technologies.
The digitization of public services can thus be achieved through a sustained institutional change by establishing specialized areas of action, describing rules of conduct, redefining organizational structures, roles and responsibilities, and specifying standards for measuring performance and organizational results.
In this regard, attention should be paid to the factors that affect the adaptation of organizations and the acceptance by employees of changes in e-government. For example, such factors can be grouped into: workflow, responsibilities in the organizational structure, skills, knowledge, and social and business context factors.
Traditional public institutions can be transformed through several reform initiatives such as reinvention, performance-based evaluation and citizen involvement. It is very important that the actors involved in the process of transforming the public administration determine the functioning of information technology adapted to a democratic government, overcome institutional constraints and create a new set of meanings and social institutions for the benefit of citizens. Certainly, the transformation of e-government will not be an easy process, but in order to achieve this transformation, it is necessary to have an initiative from public managers and strategic directions.
In the Public Policy proposal in the field of e-government that we have carried out in the project “Establishing the framework for the development of e-government instruments”, we have listed a series of concrete post-adoption measures that must be considered for the period immediately following the adoption of the new public policy framework.
The specific strategic and complementary measures identified are key decisions that act in synergy to build an effective and sustainable program of change. Priority must be given to those relating to the necessary legislative changes.
In the present national legislation there are provisions regarding the use of electronic means in the provision of public services, but they are not, however, sufficient for the implementation of the objectives established by SNADR (National Strategy on the Digital Agenda for Romania 2020). At the moment, there is no uniform and unequivocal regulation regarding the use of electronic instruments by all public authorities competent to provide public services related to all life events.
At the horizontal level there are normative acts that can constitute the general framework of eGovernment (i.e. Law no. 161/2003 and GD no. 1085/2003), but their current provisions require additions and modifications.
Sectoral legislation contains in too few cases express provisions regarding the use of electronic instruments, in the case of very few public services specific electronic procedures are regulated. Although some steps have been taken to achieve these goals, the legislation in force does not yet provide sufficient mechanisms to drive the digitization process.
In conclusion, we consider it important to ensure a unified vision on the provision of public services by electronic means, through a single portal, in order to be able to meet the key objectives in this regard, namely:
– the possibility for citizens and the business environment, beneficiaries of public services, to go through, alternatively with traditional procedures, an electronic procedure (ie electronic completion and transmission of applications and forms, communication by electronic means with public administration, issuance of documents by public administration by electronic means)
– the possibility of electronic payment of taxes and duties, ensuring the principle “only once”, interoperability of databases of public authorities and institutions, so as to minimize the need for applicants to submit, together with applications and forms, documents which can be checked with other public authorities.
In order to accelerate the process of implementing e-government at national level, amendments and completions to the current legislative framework are needed, in the sense of expressly regulating concrete obligations and responsible public authorities, assuming firm deadlines and, last but not least, of the provision of sanctions for those situations in which the obligations are not respected.