ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47
Financial Times  

Better public service through IT

By Dr. Vickum Senanayake, Centre Manager, Sri Lanka e-Government Centre of Excellence
Delivering cost effective, enhanced quality services to citizens has become the mantra of governments around the world.
The critical success factor in becoming citizen centric is to understand citizens’ needs based on their intentions (i.e. fundamental life objectives that are meaningful to citizens and businesses) as opposed to focusing purely on products and services the government offers. For example, a common set of needs for most citizens would include birth, death and marriage registration. If the different government agencies collaborate to provide the information through one integrated portal, it would be an effective means of enticing more citizens to use eGovernment services.

Furthermore, building citizen profiles with an in-depth knowledge of user requirements would help to bundle eGovernment services to suit the precise needs of individuals or a community of users. The role of eGovernment services should evolve in this direction so they can provide greater value to citizens.

Such an evolution requires government departments to transform from being operators of silos to collaborating with other departments. This initial stage of collaboration can then be transformed into a cohesive integration framework, where the end-users can obtain related services offered by a multitude of agencies in a matter of a few clicks. The role of the government itself undergoes a distinct transformation, from being a mere service provider to a facilitator that stipulates policy and focuses on funding and coordination to ensure smooth integration of different semi-independent entities that operate within the government hierarchy.

This will enable the government to evolve into a catalyst for economic growth, with greater efficiency and effectiveness to create a more conducive environment for both businesses and individuals to enhance their productivity. In order to achieve this level of success, it is essential to develop specific IT solutions to create integrated frameworks that can seamlessly adapt to varying environments. The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) approach is one of the most efficient options that are open for Governments to achieve e-enabled success.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
With the dawn of enterprise IT, computers have been used in business to mainly automate formerly time consuming business processes. However many businesses failed in integrating these processes to work together, which is where SOA come in.

SOA is an IT architecture that increases business agility of complex IT environments. Leading government and private organisations around the world are tackling the complexity of their application and IT environments with SOA, as it facilitates the development of modular business services that can be easily integrated and reused — creating a truly flexible, adaptable IT infrastructure.

An SOA approach within an IT infrastructure provides significant benefits that ultimately allow organisations to focus more resources and budget on innovation and on delivering new business services. With SOA, governments will be able to lower development costs, maintenance costs and integration costs and offer higher quality of services to citizens.

SOAs also contribute to increasing the levels of efficiency regarding customer perceptions and database management of government agencies. Many government agencies have taken to storing citizen data in computerized databases and using this data to better understand their citizens and their needs better. This trend has given way to citizen data hubs.


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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.