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Global e-government 16 October
Wednesday, October 16 2002
by Sylvia Leatham

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Singapore has won the e-government award at this year's Stockholm Challenge | The Czech Republic is in the process of setting up a Ministry for Informatics

Singapore has won the e-government award at this year's Stockholm Challenge for its eCitizen portal. The Stockholm Challenge is an international awards ceremony that recognises pioneering IT projects that are beneficial to society and individuals. The portal, located at www.ecitizen.gov.sg, offers a wide range of government services and information on-line. Singapore beat out 19 other finalists from around the world for the award, including the US, Canada and the UK.

An Information and Communications Technology (ICT) department has been set up by Kuala Lumpur City Hall in Malaysia. Speaking after a keynote address to the Mayors' Caucus, Mayor Datuk Mohmad Shaid Mohamad Taufek said the integration of computerised systems would help to avoid any duplication of efforts and to improve co-ordination between departments. He said that City Hall had already connected most of its departments via a portal, in an effort to standardise work functions, share data, make services available on-line and increase transparency.

Qatar has outlined a two-and-a-half year strategy for the creation of an on-line government portal. Qatar's e-government project will be helped by the fact that a large database already exists that allows government departments to share key information about individuals. An on-line work permit renewal system went live last month, and the government is planning the next phase for the delivery of "e-services and e-knowledge," said Dr Ahmad Al Mohanadi of Qatar's E-commerce Committee. The Ministry of the Interior, which provides such services as visas, driving licences and car registration, is likely to be the first department to launch on-line facilities.

Meanwhile, Kuwait's Ministry of the Interior (MOI) is spending millions of dollars on contracts to upgrade its IT infrastructure and improve the delivery of its services. The MOI's Information & Computer Systems Centre has already designed and rolled out several e-government applications related to areas such as immigration, criminal records management and an automated fingerprint identification system for citizens. The MOI is now signing seven separate contracts aimed at implementing a virtual platform for the delivery of on-line government services over the next two years. In addition, the MOI is converting a number of police precincts into one-stop shops for government services.

The Czech Republic is in the process of setting up a Ministry for Informatics responsible for telecoms, IT and e-government. The Czech parliament is in the final stages of voting on legislation for the establishment of the new ministry, whose aims will include increasing Internet literacy and providing on-line services to the public. Although the ministry will not be fully functional until early next year, work has already begun on a number of e-government projects, such as the implementation of digital signatures for citizens and the development of a government-wide intranet project.

Legislators in the US have criticised some of the administration's proposals for e-government, according to a report by Kablenet.com. Lawmakers generally agree on proposals aimed at improving the co-ordination and deployment of IT across the federal government, and members of the US House of Representatives said they would take on legislation to reorganise e-government. However, there is much wrangling over what kind of leadership role should be created for a new office of e-government. Under a proposed bill, a new e-government office would not have the highest level of leadership but would be headed by an "administrator." Some legislators are calling for an e-government leader to be confirmed by the US Senate, with chief information officer status covering all agencies.

The Virginia Department of Transportation in the US has disciplined 86 workers for abuse and excessive use of the Internet, according to a report by Government Computing News. An internal audit at the department revealed unusually high levels of Internet use on 93 PCs during one week. Seventeen employees were fired for accessing Web sites containing adult content, eight contract workers were sacked for Internet abuse not related to adult sites, and 61 workers were suspended for two weeks without pay for excessive use of the Internet. The department said it would not seek to replace the fired employees.



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