Citizen participation in e-governance

E-governance has emerged as a new important tool of reforms and influence over global change. Today pursuing of the government reforms occurs through the electronic governance strategies. Despite the wide embrace over technology advancements, the participation by the citizens is still lagging behind.

The assertion provided in this paper handles the transformation strategies to enhance participation of citizens through e-governance. The logical hypothesis illustrated in the paper show some of the eminent issues that need future considerations. Theoretically and experimentally, the assumptions are that e-governance is the key source to e-democracy.

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On this basis, the paper eventually places some anonymous and theoretical considerations regarding today’s reality of e-governance for the support of important issues concerning resource and social advancement. It checks upon the gap between the reality and anticipation of citizen participation electronically and lastly it investigates ways of overcoming the gap.

Knowledge-based society

The knowledge-based society is a basis providing power through prerequisite of information and knowledge. Citizens’ participation brings sufficient conversion of services to a more reliable and efficient level. The system reduces data or information transmission time and distance thus improving the diversity and productivity as the basis for change.

Although intolerable to many especially leaders, change is inevitable because it guarantees government, business and individual’s survival. Consistent with Brody et al (247), today change is not an option for consideration but a crucial dynamic characteristic for future advancement.

The government tries to solve its problems through optimal revolutions as well as smooth natural transformations. Worldwide most government are considering the e-governance style and are upgrading the management systems for better high quality customer based services.

The issue of e-governance has experienced a diverse progress since its initiative considering the high pace of the social, economic, technical and environmental capacities. The system centrally focuses on the customer as a transition to engage participatory governance.

Management views over e-governance

According to Lukensmeyer and Boyd (12), some governments consider citizen participation as an “unnecessary complexity cost factor “to implement in the e-governance system. They include the electronic techniques in their systems but fail to engage the electronic consultation and forums. This is an indication of low citizen participation in governance despite the incredible advancements.

In 2001, the U.S. government brought forward the initiative to modernize the government through “strategic management of human capital, expanded e-government and integration of budget and performance. Citizens ought to demand for the decentralization, digitization and automation of government undertakings.

Electronic innovations are government strategic efforts to find optimal results that restrain problems regarding the internal political, social, and economical factors. The e governance gets support through “transparency, efficiency and participation”. (Seasons, 432)

The electronic governance system utilizes the ICT tool whereby cost and speed of flow determines transfer of information regarding the customers’/citizens’ and services.

The policies not only support the sharing and communication of information but also provide the citizens with administration information to improve service delivery and enable transparency on government proceedings thus inducing the required organizational and administrational change. E-government provides efficiency, transparency and participation to the citizen, environment and the government itself. Automation is the key to innovations over operations through provision of good high quality services. (Seasons, 432)

Citizen participation

Politically the citizen action ought to influence policy and decision making procedures. The citizens are involved in the voting exercises, which are political proceedings, and they demand for a close observation over administrative operations known as “administrative participation”. The citizens ought to seek proper administration through their own administrative participation. (Brody et al, 247)

Citizens can participate in governance issues actively through formation of consensus over monitoring particular administrative issues and requests and passively through request for information delivered in a one-way style after the decisions.

Regarding the theory that cost and benefits as determinants of electronic participation over governance, the citizens’ participation activity becomes low and relatively limited to nature because the cost is for gathering the information needed for active participation over ideas, subject matters, procedures, opportunity costs and operational costs.

The measure of participation comes about because of benefits analysis. Argumentatively, electronic participation benefits are higher, compared to the cost. (Seasons, 434)

Model of Electronic Governance

Relating to the ICMA guidelines of 2004, the National Performance Review, (NPR) had a focus on enhancing the government’s cost effectiveness through the implementation of key conceptual changes such as by enhancing competitive and customers-oriented portals.

The conceptual structure involved in the e-government changes includes some stages such as emergence, interaction, enhancement, transaction and faultless stages. The e-government is a self-efficient system whereby the agencies perform computerized operations to provide simple civic services with the aim of an efficient or effective output.

The participatory governance encourages citizens to engage in interactive activities by linking the services of various agencies in a procedure known as the “public administration proceedings”. (Irvin and Stanbury, 59)

The electronic process takes the assumptions of strengthening governance, improving the service delivery and integrating services among the agencies. The e-governance infrastructure brakes down the wall between the public and government procedures. It allows citizens to take a pro-active role over the procedures.

Process of the e-governance

In line with King and Stivers (24), the electronic involvement in decision-making has liberated citizens because of the integrated e-democracy elements and procedures whereby passive information as accessible through a more active participation system.

The relationship between the government and the citizens progresses from a single lane traffic process where the government disseminates the information at its own will and initiative or upon demand, to a more dynamic and involving style. The citizens require chance to form partnership with the authority for a better mutual understanding and interaction.

The process of information gathering and convey is lessen through the electronic transfers and the government has a cost marginal gain, while the citizens have the ability to voice their concerns over governance styles and procedures. This is usually the anticipation over implementation of an electronic system but that is never the case. E-governance comes with a lot of workload associated with high demand for expertise. According to Irvin (62), the citizens ought to be well equipping with the knowledge of how the systems work.

The technology is dynamic and this calls for the citizens to have a more vibrant approach over the complexities that are involved. The government may also be reluctant over giving some information especially when the requests touch on the private or confidential matters. The electronic transfer module is liable to data hackers and thus the provision for the private information is a real world impediment over electronic transfers.

The quality of e-governance depends on the “accessibility, usability and credibility”. (Myflorida) Quality determines the service fulfilment and contribution. The factors ought to be the key determinants over cost and benefits involved.

Accessibility is an attribute that connects the digital divides. The accessed information differs in the time of “access, location, universality as well as the quality of service usage.” Equality over participation determines the participation cost, enjoyment and availability of benefits. (Myflorida)

Analyst for a Florida city council e-governance infrastructure

Establishment of e-government started in 80’s in Florida but were effective in 90’s in most of the council offices. (ICMA) The system entails a database management system where operational process are developed and stored. An information superhighway infrastructure provides easy and fast access to information. Ensuring the existence of a superhighway is the first initial setup but most authorities fail to implement its usage. The council forms a joint link between its agencies for an impressive and coherent growth.

Setbacks

Some of the aspects that need urgent addressing include the low intensity of services due to poor usage and poor participation among the public that is mainly point out by satisfaction indicator.

There is urgent need to redesign operation procedures, to come up with proper orientation procedures and to enlighten the public over the mode of usage. The council face a major setback on lack of sharing information to strengthen cooperation among departments. The majority of the citizens are not familiar with any existing e-governance system and thus they keep visiting the offices literally to seek services or inquire required information, while it would have taken them less time and cost if transacted virtually.

Possible advancements

There is need to build services products such as software that achieve real-time participation on the governance and other important matters to maximize the services satisfaction.

The issue of transparency efficiency and endorsed participation is achievable through ensured transparency in the administration. This calls for involving all interested parties in matters pertaining decision-making procedure, finances as well as change.

All the public administration processes ought to take place electronically so that they are in direct contact with the users to lower office visitations. Secondly is the need to have efficient administration that allows and facilitates real-time processing of all administrative operations with the aim of maximizing efficiency.

The government information and proceedings need digitizing to allow mutual sharing and consolidation of all the scattered information in the council’s departments. Lastly is the need for actively participating citizens. This entails the elimination of all the boundaries between the council and the public that prevent participation. The result to these would be free and active citizens willing to shear their thoughts, ideas and requirements for the general growth and advanced democracy.

Conclusion

The city council of Florida aims at advancing its democracy through sensitizing the public through a boosted participating public. The public opinion survey level need to be appreciate and taken into consideration.

Good democratic governance call for majority votes and this is achievable on each sector of the council through the citizen led real-time participation in policymaking and disclosure of important information. Citizens can play an active role in development if they actively make decisions concerning governing procedures through a self-controlled system such as e-governance.

Works Cited

Brody, S.D., Godschalk, D.R., & Burby, R.J. Mandating citizen participation in plan Making: six strategic planning choices. Journal of the American Planning Association, 69, 245-264. 2003

King, C.S., & Stivers, C. Government Is Us: Public Administration in an Anti-Government Era. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 1998

Lukensmeyer, C., and Boyd, A. Putting the “public” back in management: seven Principles for planning meaningful citizen engagement Public Management, 86, 10-15. 2004

International City/County Management Association. ICMA Code of Ethics With Guidelines. (Rev. July 2004). Retrieved November 24 2009, from

Irvin, R.A., & Stansbury, J. Citizen participation in decision making: is it worth the Effort? Public Administration Review, 64, 55-65. 2004

Seasons, M. Monitoring and evaluation in municipal planning: considering the Realities. Journal of the American Planning Association, 69, 430-441. Retrieved November 24 2009, from

My Florida. Most frequently asked questions on Florida’s open government laws. 2004. Retrieved November 24 2009, from

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