E-bureaucracy: An entry point for reforming bureaucracy

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Our journey of digital experience starts with registering online customer complaints/placing an order which enables managers to assign the issue to a specific worker, track its resolution, and report back to the customer via an SMS. As a result, complaint resolution rates increases, and the time taken to resolve complaints drops.

But is it replicate, especially, when it comes to public sector administration in otherwise weak governance environments?  Can the increasingly cheap and ubiquitous digital technologies, reaching to the village level with a very fast pace—move the needle on governance and make bureaucrats more accountable?

Recently many new initiatives have taken and also speeded up the old policies linked to IT and government is trying very hard to reach up to individual level using aadhar number, and in most of the cases related to subsidies, we have achieved the success, but there is clearly no shortage of hype about the transformative and disruptive powers of new technology. But the good news is that with some of the right “analog complements,” digital technologies can indeed significantly improve governance relatively quickly.

How it helps? Few Examples.

First, digital technologies can help reduce service provider absenteeism through improved monitoring.

Our system faces twin problem of absenteeism of our official, like teachers, doctors and many ground level staff and the second one is camouflage the supervisory and monitoring system by promoting bribe culture. Mobile phones can alleviate both of these problems with traditional monitoring because they provide a relatively tamper-proof record of attendance and enable information from remote corners to be quickly aggregated and visualized.

Second, e-governance reduces sticky red tapism, and it increases state fiscal capacity, reduces leakage, and improves transparency. The introduction of biometric registration, verification, and payments systems in India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the world’s largest workfare program, reduced diversion of funds by 35 percent.

Third, automation combined with digital user feedback mechanisms.

One-stop computerized service centers enable businesses and citizens to receive a variety of administrative services (e.g. licensing and registration) in one location. The centers rely heavily on information technology: to process applications, to track progress, and use customer satisfaction to rate the performance of service providers.

But digital technologies require complements like—committed managers, political support—to have impact.  Automation projects demands strong political ownership, citizens’ incentive to use the channel, and only if the feedback provided is actionable for the service provider. For example, citizens are more likely to be concerned with a private good such as the household water supply than public goods like roads and municipal services.

To sum up, the digital technologies can empower committed pro-poor politicians and bureaucrats, who can be found in even the most challenging governance contexts, by giving them a tool to experiment and take on erstwhile seemingly insurmountable problems.


Reference:

World Bank Report

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