Officialdom delays public sector switch to technology
Posted Wednesday, June 27 2012 at 19:59
As we inch closer to a new political system, the role of technology in ensuring transparency and easier access to services becomes clearer.
Well thought- out solutions will deliver immense benefits such as saving money that would be spent on consumables, service delivery, saving the time spent daily by thousands who are seeking government services, reduce inefficiencies in data- sharing between government operations, streamline communication and even generate revenue from such services.
First we were all excited about e-government, citing the strides made by countries like Singapore. Then the mobile craze hit. Now we have seemingly shifted gear to m-government.
While we have stellar champions of technology in government, their impact has not been felt. Why is it taking so long to deliver on the promise of technology with tangible results?
I have interacted with many civil servants who, having come from private sector backgrounds, have discovered the minefield and jungle that government is.
It is bogged down by long-drawn processes that take more that one year and cost millions. Similar projects would take a few months to pilot and test in the private sector.
This is not to say that government should be nimble, that would make it stop being government. The processes offer the needed checks and balances that governance is all about.
My call, however, is for the adoption of “differentiated" thinking when working on solutions that will benefit the citizen.
Dogging the innovation process with academic thinking and a “workshop centric" approach will have us waiting for the realisation of technology’s benefits beyond 2030.
To avoid this blurred vision, I suggest a simple approach. Government should create an innovation department that will, with budgetary support, operate autonomously to test, develop, approve and deploy solutions that will add value to the citizen.
They can engage local partners to help in this process.
This can run parallel to the current efforts to deliver the larger “e” and “m” government strategy.
It will also allow for implementations that cannot fail to deliver on expectation to be committed to the dead-pool without staggering amounts of capital,—both human and financial.
It could be a function of awareness on how far the current initiatives have come, but maybe government should adopt start-up thinking to ride the tech wave.
Mr Njihia is CEO of Symbiotic | Twitter - @mbuguanjihia