Wed, 15 Jan 2003

E-government to be launched to promote good governance

The Jakarta Post, Arya Abhiseka, Jakarta

The government plans to launch an ambitious national program to improve good governance through electronic government (e- government), which will enable the public to access government services via the internet.

E-government is the use of information and communications technologies to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of a government.

The Ministry of Communication and Information is finalizing the program and expects President Megawati Soekarnoputri to approve it within the year.

"The e-government concept has been developed since last March but we need to have a presidential decree as a legal basis before implementing e-government nationwide," Djoko Agung, the assistant deputy For E-Government Development Affairs, told The Jakarta Post.

After the program is approved by the President, the ministry will coordinate its implementation through training and the standardization of information and technology to be applied to e- government, and will supervise the official Indonesian government domain,

The government will conduct training programs in cooperation with the private sectors such as the Telecommunication Society, the Association of Indonesian Internet Providers and the Bandung Institute of Technology.

"Today, only 20 percent of government employees have e-mail access," Agung said.

He said the government would set a quality standard for government offices covering layout design, content of information, record management and user-friendliness.

"In the future, the public will have access to look up any government policy with one click of the mouse," Agung said signaling a higher standard of government transparency.

The e-government programs being drawn up by the ministry will improve public services such as customs and tax offices.

Through the programs, tax and custom duties can be paid electronically to reduce costs and promote transparency.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has given Indonesia and its other less developed members until 2010 to introduce paperless trading.

Paperless trading requires full implementation of electronic government and is considered the most effective and efficient type of modern transaction.

Malaysia and South Korea have started using e-government in their bilateral relations and the program has run smoothly.

"I am convinced we will make it by 2010," said Agung.

Despite the absence of a national e-government program, however, many government offices and local administrations have applied the concept to several categories of services.

As of last March, some 369 government offices had opened their own websites. However, about 24 percent of the websites failed to maintain their running times due to the limited budget.

Today, only 85 are still operating with complete options.

Agung urged local administrations to make adequate budgetary appropriations for e-government to improve public services and to promote their regions within the country and overseas.

With only around 400,000 internet subscribers and about 7.5 million fixed telephone lines, computer and internet penetration in the country is still very low.

However, the government is confident that internet users will increase steadily as the economy develops.

"Although the use of the internet has slowed down since 1998, the number of actual users is now estimated at 4 million," Agung said.