Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Electronic government, or, in short e-government, can contribute significantly to strengthening the efficiency, productivity, and transparency of government institutions. However, the potentials of the new information and communication technologies (ICT) are not always so easy to translate into practice. Rapid successes can be achieved above all in cases where a solid institutional base is already in place and good expert and infrastructural resources are available – a set of conditions not given in many developing countries.The aim of e-government is to open up new internal and external communications channels, to simplify administrative procedures, to improve the accessibility of public actors and services, and to enhance access to information. This often also means that these new technologies are vehicles of democratic, customer-oriented, and decentralized models of political decision-making and public administration. If these models are to be translated into practice, reforms must be embedded in an overall concept that takes account of both customer and target-group demand and the challenges posed by internal administrative cooperation and networking.In the foreseeable future it will be mainly industrialized and advanced developing countries that are in a position to draft and implement comprehensive strategies of this kind. But potential uses are also opening up for poorer countries. The obstacles to modernization of government institutions must often be sought less in financial or infrastructural bottlenecks than in blockades in the political sphere.Development cooperation (DC) can use e-government as a means of supporting partner countries in devising and implementing political and administrative reforms and in improving market-oriented frameworks. Beyond the immediate benefits of the new technologies, e-government should be taken as an instrument to promote good governance and to strengthen reform-oriented actors in politics and civil society.