Creating a Citizen Centric Administration through eGovernment in Romania

By Velicu, Bogdan Calin | Romanian Journal of Political Science, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

Creating a Citizen Centric Administration through eGovernment in Romania


Velicu, Bogdan Calin, Romanian Journal of Political Science


Introduction

Beginning with 2008, the year that marked the debut of the economic global crisis, the governments of different states are now being confronted more than ever with the imperative of redefining the concepts that guide their activity. Huge deficits, efficiency losses, or redundant processes represent only a few of the factors leading to the aggravation of a situation which seemed to affect economies only slightly. Citizens' trust in the public administration's capacity to surpass critical moments decreased to a minimum and caused ample social movements often culminating into government changes and extended economic instability. Thus, the implementation of concepts such as transparency, efficiency, efficacy within the public sector became primordial objectives. One field that finds itself more and more in the limelight is the implementation of public electronic services. EGovernment (eGov) involves the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in intensifying the access to and distribution of governmental services for the benefit of the citizens, business partners and employees (European Commission, 2006). The electronic mediation process between the citizen and public administration, for instance via the Internet, is able to substantially enhance the quality of public service, to increase transparency, responsiveness and the citizens' trust in the government (Ahn and Bretschneider, 2011).

Considering that eGov involves focusing on providing more efficiently high quality services to all socio-economic participants, the use of marketing concepts could become relevant in founding the strategies aimed at implementing electronic public services. Thus, this article deals with a few of the decisive aspects in the implementation of eGov and tries to emphasize the role that marketing had and still could have in this process.

EGovernment Management via Public Marketing

The essence of eGov should be focused upon transmitting public value. This concept draws its essence from three important sources, namely the citizens' perception of the quality of the public service provided, attaining the desirable public targets (e.g., improving healthcare services or lowering poverty) and the increase of trust in public administration (Baptista, 2005). Before attempting to describe the synergy resulted from the interaction of eGov implementation strategies with marketing, it is required that we tackle the taxonomy of the characteristic features of these two fields.

From the point of view of the doctrine, public marketing appeared at the same time as the reformation of the concept of public management, ideologically known as New Public Management (NPM). The concept is based on the use of practices and techniques specific to the private sector in governmental activities (Lynn, 1998), with the purpose of producing more by using less resources. The main suggestions decided upon by NPM refer to reducing the size of the public sector, co-opting the experts in management activities, de-bureaucratization, introduction of performance recompensing mechanisms, competition, institutional de-centralization and, perhaps the most important component, implementation of an organizational culture around the concept of the citizen regarded as a customer (Barzelay, 2000; Behn, 1995). Therefore, from an operational point of view, since the end of the 1990s, the citizen-customer concept has become the focal point of organizational activities. Furthermore, Martin and Webb (2009) consider that an administrative reform cannot really be implemented without involving the citizens.

Dunleavy et al. (2005) introduced a new paradigm for the public sector. The alternative consists of Digital Administration which should be based on the following concepts: Reintegration, Needs-based Holism and Digitalization. A careful analysis of the described directions denotes the interdisciplinary character on which the construction of Digital Administration is based on. …

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