Governments have the responsibility of directing their efforts within budgets to goals set by their plans within a dynamic environment. They need to be agile in their operations and take effective decisions based on changing scenario and current priorities.

Any decision taken by the government touches the life of a community: be it business or citizen or resident. It is very important for governments to engage in a two-way communication with this community. Customers of government services have higher expectations that that is what is in reality. The governments are steering their budgets into projects that enhance their performance in general and communications in particular through the use of modern technologies. Websites, emails, SMS services, Interactive-Voice-Response systems, toll-free lines, online community engagement in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc are some of their delivery channels as well as interactive conduit.



Internal efficiency

Governments having a presence on the Internet, stand to benefit with the addition of an electronic delivery channel for communicating their vision, plans, service and contact details. Content in these online platforms must be accurate, up-to-date and engaging in order to gain trust and reputation upon the entity. Services from the government to the public and corporate world can be ported into online environment to facilitate electronic service delivery.

While doing this the process has to undergo re-engineering to bring out true efficiencies in the system while eliminating unwanted processes. Most government systems handle citizen data, regulatory control information and other official data through backend systems. While most of this may be held confidential, other information can be directly accessible in order to status checks. Enabling back-end access to selected information after proper authentication and authorization makes self-help services possible.


Single-window entry

Having government online through an official portal offers the users a common gateway to access a range of services from a single-window. Maturity in this gateway to e-services comes at various stages: information about services, interaction through printable form and queries, transaction for selected services from service request to tracking of status and finally integrated execution of a service that involves various entities in a seamless and integrated manner including online payment facilities.

The portal to begin with, services as an electronic repository of services with information either at its own site or pointing via links to other government entity website. Later it matures to work in a seamlessly integrated manner, sharing data and applications, orchestrating status updates and with a common-look and feel behaving like a whole single entity online.

Anytime anywhere access

The web, networking and mobile computing technologies have matured enough to make anytime, anywhere access, an affordable reality. People access the Internet from their schools, colleges, offices of even in the comfort of their homes. Any e-services delivered via the web-based interfaces encourages the public to access it from wherever they are irrespective of time or even geographic boundaries.

Information about e-services, the entity offering this service, contact telephone numbers, processes, required supporting documents, etc provided at the first stage, provide adequate clarification for those who consider requesting this service. At this stage it is possible to download relevant forms, print and fill them ahead of approaching the physical entity. In later stages the entire service request can be raised electronically and inputs can be provided in real-time so as to execute the entire business process online. Mobile devices such as PDAs and phones can also access these web-based services.

Online payment options

The ability to pay for services online requires the service provider to be a member of a payment gateway that connects them with the payment facilitating banking entity. This secure gateway opens after appropriate authentication and request for payment card details. The banks offering these cards also need to join the payment gateway.

Visitors can benefits from the payment gateway connectivity for e-services if the entities accepting these services are members of the gateway. For example the ministry of Sports Affairs and the Royal Oman Police have currently enabled this facility for their customers. Payment Gateway provides an integrated, secure and reliable hosted service for credit card processing and payment gateway services for its members so they can focus on their core business activity while opening up web-based delivery channels.

Agility in operations

Electronic services normally enhance the speed of responses with respect to changes in the business environment. Agile businesses require such direct channels of interaction with their clients, business partners and government agencies. To a large extent such e-services minimise government bureaucracy and promote transparency. Citizen and businesses are empowered with access to information, knowledge and other opportunities in a real-time scenario. The government agencies in turn improve their productivity by being agile in their interaction regarding service requests. For them web is a more effective, cheaper and more convenient delivery channel for information as well as services.

Success criteria

If portal-based e-services must serve its intended benefits for its target audience then, it must work in both ways: the agencies must offer more services that touch larger sections of their client-base through this channel and the clients must have the required resources, infrastructure, skill-sets and attitude in a reliable manner.

As the saying goes, ‘Rome was not built in a day’, every portal will go through varying levels of maturity since its inception and this largely depends upon open communications between the stakeholders and the users. Every feedback or suggestion must be considered in a proactive manner, addressing the fundamental issues lying behind those suggestions. The ultimate purpose they must serve is to enable all their users including citizens, businesses, other levels of government and government employees to easily find information and obtain services from the government agencies to improve their quality of life.

Last Updated (Monday, 23 November 2009 06:34)

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