|E-government promises to make governance more efficient, but it also may provide important tools for linking government agencies, or even enable restructuring to better handle wide-ranging problems such as poverty, disaster response, and postconflict reconstruction. The World Bank’s e-Development Services Thematic Group held a seminar and live webcast to address these possibilities, with a focus on the United Kingdom’s experiences, on May 10, 2006, at the Bank’s main headquarters. Sanjay Pradhan, Director of Public Sector Governance for the Bank, chaired the session.
Graham Walker, former Director of the Central Strategy Unit for the UK e-Envoy, discussed the work of the Gov3 Foundation, which increases access and training for information technology in the United Kingdom. He discussed how to deliver e-governance services as a citizen-centered activity, noting how simple technologies like e-mail can have wide-reaching effects. Walker commented on the lessons learned from mainstreaming e-government initiatives. Bill Edwards, Director of e-Communication for e-Envoy, spoke on the challenges to overcome when using e-government, since it is not naturally citizen-centric. He noted that external factors including a younger population and a pace set by global business complicate the transition, and that they looked to other countries and models to solve these problems. Edwards credited success in attracting visitors to online government solutions to the creation of a “killer app” and of clusters and teams as interfaces between audiences and agencies.
Rob Schware, Lead Informatics Specialist for the World Bank, commented on the presentations. He questioned the sequencing required to implement e-government solutions. Before a question and answer session, linked audiences in Sri Lanka, Moldova, and Kazakhstan contrasted their own e-governance initiatives with the previously-discussed approaches. Viewers asked about the time requirements, clusters, and killer applications. In answering, Walker and Edwards also provided a deeper understanding of how the cooperation between government agencies had worked, as well as how to build an online presence.