Academic journal article International Social Science Review

Introducing E-Government in Bangladesh: Problems and Prospects

Academic journal article International Social Science Review

Introducing E-Government in Bangladesh: Problems and Prospects

Article excerpt

Introduction

Use of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) in government activities has become a common phenomenon in recent years. In the late 1990s, ICT introduced a unique concept--electronic government (e-government)--in the field of public administration. To date, various technologies have been applied to support the unique characteristics of e-government, including electronic data interchange, interactive voice response, voice mail, email, web service delivery, virtual reality, and key public infrastructure. (1)

The web and other technologies have shown potential as effective and efficient managerial tools that collect, store, organize, and manage voluminous information. The most current information can be uploaded and downloaded on the Internet on a real-time basis. Governments can also transfer funds electronically to governmental agencies or provide information to public employees through an intranet or Internet system. Additionally, governments can perform many routine functions more easily and quickly (i.e., responding to employees' requests for benefits statements). Web technologies also facilitate government links with citizens (for both services and political activities), other governmental agencies, and businesses. Government websites can serve as both a communication and public relations tool for the general public. Information can be shared with and transferred to external stakeholders (businesses, non-profit organizations, interest groups, or the public). In addition, some web technologies, such as interactive bulletin boards, enable governments to encourage public participation in policy-making processes by posting public notices and exchanging ideas with the public. As a consequence, some governments have promoted virtual democracy by encouraging web-based political participation through online voting and on-line public forums. (2)

These far-reaching developments in e-government have encouraged governments around the world to establish an on-line presence by publishing statistical information on the Internet. In so doing, they hope to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and organizational performance. (3) Countries, irrespective of their developing characteristics, are constantly striving to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of e-government delivery services. They hope that e-government will emerge as a magical antidote to combat corruption, red tape, bureaucratic inefficiency and ineffectiveness, nepotism, cronyism, lack of accountability, and transparency.

Bangladesh has joined the race toward adopting e-government. This study examines that effort by addressing the status of ICT in Bangladesh. It analyzes the initiatives of the Bangladesh government, commitment of political leadership, and the enthusiasm of private entrepreneurs to introduce e-government in Bangladesh. It concludes that e-government preparation in Bangladesh is still in its primary stages and has not fulfilled its potential due to technical, infrastructural, and political obstacles. A coordinated effort of political leadership, bureaucrats, and private entrepreneurs could facilitate the desired development in the ICT sector and accelerate the presence of e-government in Bangladesh.

E-government: An Overview

While still in its early stages of development, a clear definition of e-government has yet to emerge. (4) A recent joint research initiative for the study of e-government sponsored by the United Nations Division for Public Economics and Public Administration and the American Society for Public Administration defined e-government as "utilizing the internet and the world-wide-web for delivering government information and services to citizens." (5) According to the World Bank, e-government refers to governmental use of information technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other agencies of government. …

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