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Enhancing Government Services through ICT

26 July 2011

Enhancing Government Services through ICT-Hon Minister’s speech
at the Future Gov Forum Sri Lanka 2011-� (20.07.2011)

Broad expectations and key features of the modern society can be described as utilizing enhanced technology, giving more value for time, easy and quick transactions and availability of information etc. On the other hand private sector has become much user friendly and obedient to meet the aspirations of modern society. The public goods which provide by the public sector need to be developed to meet the aspirations of modern society. Therefore quick responses for public requests and relief for their grievances of prime importance in dealing with and needs to be developed by public service accordingly. In this context ICT can play a vital role in Sri Lankan public service. Modernization of public services for easy accessibility to obtain public services, familiarizing modern technology to public servants especially in e-services and m – services and to develop user-friendly interfaces in dealing with public matters.

In view of dealing with aspirations of the modern society the government programs are focused on:
(a) ICT infrastructure development enabling economic development
(b) Establishment of Good Governance
(c) Make changes in public organizations to deliver peoples friendly public services

The five year development framework of the government, Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the future has given prominence for ICT development and has planned to invest heavily in this area in the coming years. His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksha has championed the task of taking necessary steps to establish ICT Agency in Sri Lanka a few years back and we have achieved significant improvement in ICT area thereafter. It is true in Sri Lanka that rapid growth of mobile users rather comparable to internet users. Definitely, in near future modern society may seek government services through mobile phones. Are we ready to it and it is the challenge in front of all of us today. Therefore expansion and promotion of the communication technology is also of paramount importance. After 30 years of conflict, Sri Lanka is now in the development phase and this is a good opportunity enabling economic development through ICT. Sri Lanka government also promotes ICT industry as a separate sector of the economy to grow and contribute to the GDP. This ICT industry complements the e-government program initiated by the Sri Lankan government and now it is on the half way of its journey, and still it has not linked with the rural Sri Lanka.

We all expect Good Governance can be established through ICT. When we consider the pillars of Good Governance, each and every pillar can be strengthened and slimed by using ICT appropriately.
Responsiveness of the public service providers can be improved using modern ICT applications such as on line services, emails, SMSs, auto replied SMSs, e-payment schemes, information hubs/portals etc.
Accountability can be improved by supplying necessary information through web portals and by putting information as much as possible in web and through online services. The general public could be informed about the responsibility of government, procedures to follow and about the accountable offices etc of the services delivered.
Transparency is another pillar and it can be enhanced through the ICT. E-procurement processes, E-payment schemes, use of credit card and debit cards in for government taxes and payments directly enhance the transparency of such deals. IT also reflects some degree of transparency in decision making process too.
People will definitely feel the Equity and inclusiveness, by using mobile phones for supplying public services, as 80% of the general public now possess their own mobile phone. If a birth certificate can be issued on a mobile phone request followed by a mobile phone payment, that will be the ultimate people’s friendly public service we all expect.
Participatory approach can be increased through websites and web portals by sharing information and widely discuss matters of concerns in web forums. Social networks such as twitter, face book, blogs can be easily used to share public concerns with public organizations.
Accessibility can also be enhanced through the ICT to provide faster & easier service to the people round the clock and 365 days by introducing on line services and e-services. In future people will not visit public offices if such services are available on the internet/phones. They can just log on to a website and get the service without any time barriers or physical boundaries.
In a world where everything is changing so quickly, process re-engineering is a noble truth for public service. In effecting reforms in Sri Lanka public service re-engineering public institutions including the review of process etc, and improved use of information and communication technology plays a very vital role. Provision of training and developing skills required to acquire new technology of the public servants improve and enhance the service delivery capacities. Therefore, it is necessary that all levels of employees in public service are provided with adequate training provided in either by the government or with the assistance of the private sector.
Information collection, storage and distribution could be done through e-mail, web sites or mobile phones which would be cheaper at a later stage after installation and which will become affordable. The benefits that could be achieved from this will include
• Minimizing delays
• Transparency of actions taken
• Free of corruption
• Quick retrieval of past records at a faster speed
• Paperless environment and more space to live people
Feeding information to web site will allow customers or clients to obtain the required information/data without visiting the institution. This helps the service provider too as they are not required to deploy employees to provide information to those who visit them.
Similarly use of mobile phone to obtain information through SMS or Voice mail helps the customer a great deal. Obtaining information through public information center (1919 service) is a leap forward in this sphere.
Re-engineering of the public institutions is planned to be carried out through Management Reforms Cells (MRCs) established in all ministries and initialized under my Ministry. ICT can play a major role in this reform process. IN every MRC a chief innovation officer has appointed to lead and initiate changes in the respective organization. They are also expected to give leadership to initiate changes utilizing ICT. The CIOs are expected to play a duel role by introducing changes and promoting others to initiate changes.

Page Last Updated On: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 12:00 AM

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