“All governments in order to obtain the

“Alltechnologies from the steam engine to the computers through nuclear power andtelephony and satellites have been adding to the convenience, comfort andefficiency of humans in their pursuit for happiness and wealth” (Prabhu, 2012)For every state it isvital to have effectively designed and efficiently operating governments inorder to obtain the sustainable social and economic welfare and to reach thecondition of the good government. In spite of the fact that “good” principlesusually encompassed such concepts as transparency, efficiency, participation,responsibility, and market economy, state of law, democracy, and justice”(Drechsler,2004) and yet, today  many of theseconcepts are largely doubted by critics and given essay doesn’t intend to givean overview  of the concept of  “good governance”, but this citation impliesto highlighting the approach of governments towards better performance throughreforms in above-mentioned concepts to deliver better services to citizens andthus rise the effectiveness of the public welfare. Introduction What is the key to thegood and successful government in the contemporary world? What drives modernday governments to meet the demands of their citizens? Probably the answer toall of the aforementioned questions will be – the constant improvement ofdelivered goods. Improvement, on the other hand, equals to implementationinnovative approaches towards the processes or goods produced (in case of stateentities, provided goods mainly involve various public services) and thus wecome to the point where we have to define what the innovation for publicorganizations means – “innovation is a core task of public organizations thatimproves responsiveness and efficiency” (Mulgan and Albury, 2003).There can be variousreasons that provoke public organizations to transform.

Novelties mostly serveto the purpose of sophistication of management procedures and produced goods toincrease responsiveness towards the society’s needs; In more general perception,the principal drivers of public sector innovation is either political ambition,public demand (citizens, businesses, non-private organizations) and/ortightening the resources(Walker, 2006). Success stories of modern governments,on a great extent, depend on novelties in provision of public services. Newsolutions are applied to various sectors, such as public safety, education,health care, etc. and they directly or indirectly affect the publicadministration process itself.”Effective governmentand public services depend on successful innovation” (Mulgan and  Albury, 2003) – during the past decades maininnovations that governments all over the world apply to their routines havecome through the information and communication technologies (ICT). “Governmentshave come to be responsible for organizing and regulating not only traditionalactivities of defense, law and order, and justice but also social welfare andhuman resource development.

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Governments are the single largest takers ofpeople’s earnings and the providers of a variety of services to citizens,including dispensing information and welfare. It is therefore natural that ICTsare increasingly used to improve government services”. (Prabhu, 2012)Implementation ofinformation technology (IT)  based toolsinto service delivery processes have led to formation of e-Governance systems.”E-Government is seen as a tool to help governments deliver information andservices in ways that meet users’ needs and convenience – rather than follow stovepipe government structures –and lead to more transparent and effective government.

E-Government bringsservices closer to citizens and businesses” (OECD E-Government Project, 2005) .It is largely seen as a phenomenon that can have beneficial impacts on thesociety, but as “The coin always has two sides”, there are few things in thisworld that do not have two-faced implications – latest innovations towardsintroduction of advanced ICT tools into public administration processes withbringing noticeable benefits to societies, simultaneously have questionedvarious crucial aspects of the aforementioned concept. Below I will try todiscuss the role if ICT in public service delivery process through Estonian andSingaporean examples and define positive sides and drawbacks of the localsystems. EstonianSuccess Story The issue of promotioninnovations through public service delivery channels, thus creation ofe-Government and enabling access to e-Services has been challenging Estoniangovernment since the collapse of the Soviet Union. After regaining politicaland economic independence in 1991 Estonia could become one of the most advancedcountry  in promoting the technology-basedinformation society.

Through several waves of transformation from traditionalWeberian model of public administration to New Public Management Principles, thento post–NPM systems, even reestablishment of Weberian principles and testingout post-post-NPM systems, “Estonian government could succeed to make aremarkable success story in context of e-Government” (Kalvet, 2012). Nowadaysthis small country represents the only state in the world that holds nationwideelectronic elections as well as is capable of offering around 99% of publicservices online.With the population oneof the smallest in Europe, in total 1,3 million residents, Estonia became worldknown for its innovative products and for the reforms done throughout thecountry making this little state international player and pioneer  in vast of e-Governance technologies.  As mentioned above, idea of switching topaperless government came into Estonian agenda after the collapse of the Soviet Union – country officials saw the needof creation efficient state that would rapidly change country’s direction fromSoviet clashes towards modern west. “Every cloud has a silver lining” – so allthe drawbacks that the tiny state had: small territory, few population, longdistance from the western European countries, etc.  drove country towards development of theconvenient public administration systems, that would offer its citizens publicservices in a fast and comfortable manner; systems that would be easy to execute and control – thus overtime gainedcompetitive advantage in the digital ways of getting things done, whileeventually formed itself as an e-Country. “E-Services have the potential tochange many traditional practices in the society, thus social and ethicalaspects must be researched further” (Kalvet, 2007).

  Later below are discussed some of thestriking reforms that have heavily influenced Estonia’s reputation as ane-Country.SingaporeanSuccess Story  When it comes toSingapore, this small island city-state can really be conceived as a successstory in many aspects of governance and can be a role model for developingcountries. “The Singapore model of public management is premised on meritocraticprinciples in recruitment and promotion, a strict bureaucratic hierarchy andadministrative impartiality” (Robinson, 2015). Achievements in the development of governance system in Singapore mostlyrelies on those policies that have been adopted after gaining the independence,these policies can be: “comprehensive reform of the Singapore Civil Service; Decentralizationof the Public Service Commission; strong and enforceable anticorruptionmeasures; and payment of competitive market salaries to attract and retain thebest candidates in the public service” (Robinson, 2015(Quah, 2013 )). “Introductionof New Public Management tools by adopting new models of management along withthe implementation of e-Government contributed to development in public servicedelivery systems” (Robinson, 2015(Lee and Haque,2006; Saker, 2006 )).

“Singapore’se-Government journey began in the early 80s. From the 80s through the 90s, thegovernment set out to raise the infocomm competency of the entire publicsector. Computers initially a rarity became ubiquitous in the public sector bythe 90s. Then with an increasingly pervasive Internet in the late 90s, welaunched our public services online.

For the past 25 years or so, ICT was usedinnovatively as a strategic enabler to transform the way the public sectorworks. ICT is now an integral part of our operations and services to betterserve our people and businesses. 1,600 e-government services are availableonline 24-7 for businesses and citizens. These range from seeking approval formajor building projects to passport renewals to filing income tax returns. Lastyear, around 160 million transactions on such services were made from a basepopulation of 4.5 million people” – said in his statement for the 4thMinisterial e-Government Conference on “Reaping the Benefits of e-Government”in 2007 former minister of Information, Communication and the Arts of SingaporeDr.Lee Boon yang.

Singapore, this small island city-state became a worldpioneer country in lots of projects dedicated to creation of innovation driven governments,focused on providing more than 98 percent of public services online to thecitizens.  Building the pervasive andreally effective electronic governance systems has become the main target ofthe Singapore government for already decades and thus achieving public welfareis a common way of operation for government.”The focus of oure-Government is about re-engineering the internal government thought processesand work procedures so as to be able to leverage IT efficiently and effectivelyto better serve our citizens and businesses. Our ultimate goal is to meet theneeds of our citizens and engage them” – said in his speech  for  InformationSystems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) International Conference formerChairman GPC, Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts  of Singapore Ms. Penny Low.

In fact,Singapore could succeed to create one of the wealthiest and the most advanced,high-tech country in the world.  Positiveaspects electronically delivered public services Probably, the main goalof formerly discussed both governments is to serve their citizens and providethem high quality services. In fact, having advantage to hold the power overthe country, puts obligations on them to govern too. Increasing efficiency andopportunities for better service provision is one of the main tasks for themthat leads to good governance conditions. The citizens as well as private andnon-for profit organizations want fast and easy accessible services and in factInformation Technologies have heavily influenced service delivery systems;Below I will try to represent general framework of advantages and drawbacks ofIT influenced public service delivery systems that applies formerly discussed bothgovernments;From dozens of positiveeffects that are natural for electronic distribution of  public services, some highlighted ones woulddefinitely be as follows: Availabilityof the state services – unlike traditional schemes, where citizens can getservices only five days in a week, during the office hours, in a digitalenvironment services are available 24/7 and one can get desirable service atany time of the day; Comfortable –services are provided online, in a fast and comfortable manner, and so citizensget access to e-Services from various devices and from everywhere, eitherwithin or outside of the country (if we examine an Estonian example,  e-Residency service allows beneficiaries get publicservices even while being outside of the country); Not only it becomes easy forcitizens to get services, but also for state agencies collecting, processingand disseminating the data becomes easier and thus helps to efficientlyuse  resources; Access on one’s own activities history – deploying state servicesfrom online platforms and having a personal electronic account that keeps trackof activities, allows citizens to always be aware of their actions wherever andwhenever they want to. Fastercommunication – instead of visiting special places and spending a lot oftime on the simplest procedures, through e-Services doing such activities canbe done in a very short period of time and in a more convenient manner(Estonian e-Voting system is the best example supporting this position- insteadof staying in long lines to vote for someone via paper ballots, one can votevia mobile, while still in lying bed in the morning). Along with theaforementioned, less paper is involved in service provision and managementprocedures, which also makes the service provision procedures easy to execute; Cost efficiency –  switching service delivery processes fromtraditional ways of doing things to IT driven ones, helps governments to moreefficiently use their resources and enhance their productivity (Estoniangovernment annually saves 2% of its Gross Domestic Product (Roivas, 2016),while already in 2001 Singapore government could succeed to approximatelygenerate around $14,5 million savings (Ke and Kee Wei, 2015)).

Bureaucracy level is also shrunk whileproviding services online – face to face interaction with citizens becomesalmost unnecessary, so organizations aren’t required to have in-office workers,which therefore means less salary budgets and, in general, less costs for stateagencies in other employee-involved aspects too; More transparency – offering IT based services allows for moregovernment transparency because electronic platforms become a tool for thepublic to constantly stay informed about what the government activities.Negativeaspects electronically delivered public services There is no doubt thattechnology is capable of turning bureaucracy inside out and that puttinggovernment services onto online platforms can serve for the sake of thesociety. Not only it promotes management systems to be more open and turnsgovernance tools towards more responsive ways, but it also helps to increasethe involvement rate of public administration in democratic processes. But withall the benefits that electronic government is capable to offer it is still faraway from perfection. Among all those drawbacks that offering electronicservices may have, some will definitely be as follows: No face to face communication – despite of all the benefits ofgetting information electronically and thus saving time, money and effort,replacement of face to face communication with digital ones can become aconstraint in suggestion of alternative actions to those citizens who are notsatisfied with the e-Services or don’t trust them; Lack of equality in public access to the internet – reliability ofweb-based information can also be identified as a disadvantage, especially whenit comes to some areas of countries don’t have full internet cover (though thiscan’t be perceived as a strong constraint in Estonian and Singaporean  cases,as almost the whole territories of  thecountries are provided with the full internet coverage); Lack or absence in e-Literacy skills – not having appropriateskills for using internet can become a barrier for citizens to have access onstate services.

In such cases services become useless as potential users don’thave potential of deploying them. This especially relates to those generationswho are less internet friendly than the millennials. Solutions that have beenrooted in people’s habits for decades are very difficult to change (forexample: logging into state web systems by using ID card, mobile-ID or bankcodes at first was a new challenge for Estonians, and probably is still a bigdeal for the citizens of those countries who have never used e-Services andthis is why, usually, governments also provide alternative ways of deployingstate services for citizens along with the e-based ones.);  Possiblerisk of internet connection failure – while talking about e-Services, one should always be aware of possiblethreats of traffic interruption, as there is no constant guarantee of flawlessaccess to internet. But behind this there may be a hidden agenda in maligngovernment’s intentions – as theoretically, in case of any “animus injurandi”,government will always have an excuse of weak internet, bad traffic, etc.

; Risks of unemployment – while through electronicgovernance efficiency seems more easily achievable, one of the components thatthis efficiency compounds of is having less people behind the office desks;this approach seems attractive from the side of cost reduction, but the truthbehind it is that dozens of people may stay unemployed and unfortunately noteveryone is so flexible to regain new, marketable skills; In a broader scale, potentialimplications, drawbacks of implementation of e-Services is also a vulnerability to cybercrimes (risks ofphishing, various malware, etc.) which therefore leads to increased costs of governmentsto buy the strongest equipment and invest in the IT specialists in order todefend the data (in this regard, “Tallinn is in a strong position to counterone common objection, that e-commerce and e-government put data at risk,because it has developed an incredibly secure system, based on blockchain,since suffering the world’s first major cyberattack in 2007” – says in hisarticle for “The World Weekly” Joe Wallance); The latter topic is followed by Privacy issues– regardless of all thebenefits of IT based provision of services, digitalization of operations leadsto more unsecured privacy, as data gets easier to be stolen. Access to thembecomes available to the hackers all over the world; this is why a lot of fundsunder the e-Governance must be spend on building the cyber security activities;Hyper surveillance – on one hand,electronic interaction may seem very attractive in terms of cost-effectiveness,convenience, speed, etc., but on the other hand, implementation of electronictools into management and public administration processes can lead to misusingimportant personal data of individuals as the government officials gain full controlover the private information of their citizens.

I’d characterizesurveillance and trustworthiness issue as a primary issues while implementationof electronic government as there may be a great deal of hidden agendas ofgovernments regarding using their citizens’ personal data.  Despite of all the limitations thatgovernments may have under internal or international legislative frameworkschances of malign governance are always in agenda and can’t be excluded. I deemit relevant to pay more attention to the following discussion of the latter constraint.

Is theBig Brother really that bad? “Big brother iswatching you!” – This maxim may not be only attractive words from brilliant novelof George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” – but it may also be the concept thaton a daily basis applies the present reality of citizens all over the world.  Eye-opening aspect here may be that underelectronic collection and procession of data governments automatically also gaincontrol all over the personal data.Having huge amounts ofdata collecting and moving among citizens and various entities makes data liquid.In Estonian case data movement among state-private sector-citizen systemsrelies on a fundamental principle to protect people’s privacy: “It is alwaysthe citizen who owns his or her data and retains the right to control access tothat data” (Tamkivi, 2014 ). So, citizens possess control over their personaldata – only if they provide access to personal data it can be used by stateauthorities, and in such cases, through the personal online portals, they  can always track the history – who uses theirdata, for what means, etc.; Secure access to records guarantees data owners tobe aware of accession of their personal information.  “Citizens have the right to query any accesstransaction, and the individual responsible has a month to respond. It is illegalto view someone’s data without appropriate reasons.

Penalties include prisonterms” (Sorell, 2015). “In those scenarios where citizens can’t legally blockthe state from seeing their information, as with Estonian e-Policemen usingreal-time terminals – they at least get a record of who accessed their data andwhen. If an honest citizen learns that an official has been snooping on themwithout a valid reason, the person can file an inquiry and get the officialfired” (Tamkivi, 2014 ).But these aforementionedapplies to Estonia as the part of the western mindset and of social valueswhere every individual, their happiness, privacy and personal freedom as wellas freedom of speech counts more than any other value in the society, but whathappens in cases of a governmental systems where hidden agendas ofauthoritarian influence on society is still exists? Where government interestscome on the first place? – yet we can say that government reflects the needs ofits citizens and thus government and public interests are equal,  but is the same on an individual level? Whatmay happen if government has to generate welfare on a national level? Maybe insuch scenarios interests of individual citizens must be sacrificed to attainsystematic state welfare? – in this regard, discussing the Singaporean government  can help us see several interesting aspectsof the subject. First, unlike Estoniancounterparts, personal data of the citizens is available for the government officials24/7. “In a law-and order society, definition “order” encompasses everythingand may even be everyone. In the curious mix of democratic and authoritarianregimes a paternalistic government ensures people’s basic needs – housing,education, security – in return for almost reverential deference”(Harris,2014).

Under the excuse that through various surveillance tools havingtotal control over their citizens helps government predict and sometimes evenprevent various economic, political, social disasters, Singaporean publicauthorities possess control all over the citizen-owned data and they don’tcarry responsibility of letting know the citizens when or for what purposestheir data is used. But the curious fact in this case is that citizens ofSingapore also don’t seem to be bothered with privacy issues, as in return theyget to be the inhabitants of one of the safest country in the world thatprovides citizens with lowest violence rate, with high level of policereliability, least homicide rates, etc. As we saw it from the RAHS case(Harris,2014), mass surveillance systems can really be used as the tools forscenario planning means on national security level. And yet, probably everySingaporean will agree that national security and public safety are above all andin favor of all those aforementioned benefits, citizens don’t really mind theirdata to be used by state Authorities. Well, here we get tocame to the point where we have to question the topic of trustworthiness – Iscitizens’ data really secured even in the most democratic countries? What happenswhen government needs users’ data? Do they always ask for permission? Under theself-maintenance of all the electronic systems can the government itself be thehonest guarantor of the transparency? – In such case, what is the result thatwe face? – Maybe the fact that government happens to be the creator andexecutor of the “Checks and balances” principle itself. What if from theethical prospective Singaporean government is even more honest towards itscitizens than the western counterparts in regards of data usage as it does nothide its real means? What if the citizens of the most advanced democraticcountries simply “take the ostrich view” and believe that nobody but only theyhave the total control over their digital assets? Answers to these questionsare the subjects for the future discussions.   Summary To sum up, one thingthat we can totally be sure about is that nobody has the capacity to prevent thefuture from happening, thus we can’t prevent dispassion of electronicgovernance as it really is the future. So the main task of all governments shouldbe approaching towards those above-discussed disadvantages as if they werechallenges for future improvement and turning those constraints into strongsides.

  Technology has taken a dominantplace not only on an individual level, but also on a state one, so having ITinfluenced, digital governments is an inevitable part of the future. Andstriving for showing off the benefits that IT innovation-driven public administrationsystems can have on society, along with the better transparency,accountability, honesty and integrity should become the driving force forfuture development.          

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