ICT applications impact upon the structures of public administration systems. Technological advancements facilitate the administrative systems by enabling:
- Administrative Development; and
- Effective Service Delivery
We will now discuss them individually. Administrative Development Administrative reforms, often, have focused on procedural details and restructuring of systems and processes of government organisations. The basic objective of these reforms is to enhance capacities of the systems. ICTs can be used and are being used now to give further impetus to the process. They help in the following manners:
- Automation of Administrative Processes
A truly e-governed system would require minimal human intervention and would. rather be system driven. While initially the solutions that were offered were quite primitive with poor information layout, inadequate navigation provisions, occasional disruption in services, periodic outdated content and little or no ‘back office’ support. However, technological advancements and increased pressure from citizenry have prompted improvements in these areas. Now administrative departments are computerised and connected through network. Software has been built and designed around government departments ensuring efficiency in operations. The departments have launched individual websites carrying information of their respective departments. This has enabled online carrying of operations and file movements. Budgeting, accounting, data flow, etc. has become easy. This has increased the efficiency of office operations and processes and has reduced unnecessary delays.
- Paper Work Reduction
An immediate impact of automation would be on the paperwork. Paperwork is reduced to a greater extent with communication being enabled via electronic route and storage and retrieval of information in the electronic form. All this has led to emergence of less paper office’. This concept is defined as an office situation where all the information (file and mail) amongst various functionaries is distributed online. In the words of Dubey, less paper office is the implementation of effective electronic communication processes that enable elimination of reproductive works and unnecessary papers. The concept is where files and mails (information) are transmitted over wires to small computers at each employee’s desk. Office work, such as, file movements, notings, etc. is computerised and documentation, repor preparation, databases are now maintained in computers. Due to interconnectivity through LAN, transfer of information and files take place online, thus reducing the physical movements and consumption and storage of huge piles of paper.
- Quality of Services
ICT helps governments to deliver services to the citizens with greater accountability responsiveness and sensitivity. Quality of services improves, as now the people are able tc, get services efficiently and instantaneously. As volumes of transactions and information can be electronically handled and delivered over a wider area through the net and web, qualitative services become possible in least time, in least cost, in least difficulty and in greater convenience. By ensuring online redressal of grievances the accountability of officials is ensured. They have become sensitive to the issues affecting people. Monitoring by way of video teleconferencing has further facilitated central monitoring, reporting and face to face communication that has assured effective service deliver, by the officials.
- Elimination of Hierarchy
ICT has reduced procedural delays caused by hierarchical processes in the organisation. Through Intranet and LAN, it has become possible to send information and data across various levels in the organisation at the same time. Computerisation and communication patterns facilitated by ICT have increased efficiency and have led to the involvement of all levels in decision-making.
- Change in Administrative Culture
Bureaucratic structures have been plagued by characteristics aptly described by Victor Thompson as ‘bureau-pathology’. From the day s of New Public Administration, efforts have been made to find ways to deal with the pathological or dysfunctional aspects of )rt. bureaucratic behaviour and to make delivery of public services effective and efficient. With e-governance, public actions coming under public glare would certainly induce norms and values of accountability, openness, integrity, fairness, equity, responsibility and justice in the administrative culture. Rather, administration would become efficient and responsive. Effective Service Delivery ICTs play an important role in effectively delivering services to the people. ICTs ensure:
- Transparency by dissemination and publication of information on the web.
This provides easy access to information and subsequently makes the system publicly accountable. Also as web enables free flow of information, it can be easily accessed by all without any discrimination.,
- Economic Development
The deployment of ICTs reduces the transaction costs, which makes services cheaper. For example, rural areas suffer on account of lack of information regarding markets, products, agriculture, health, education, weather, etc. and if all this could be accessed online would lead to better and more opportunities and thereby prosperity in these areas.
- Social Development
The access to information empowers the citizens. Informed citizenry can participate and voice their concerns, which can be accommodated in the programme/ project formulation, implementation, monitoring and service delivery. Web enabled participation will counter the discriminatory factors affecting our societal behaviour.
- Strategic Information System
Changing organisational environment and increasing competitiveness have put pressures on the performance of the functionaries. Information regarding all aspects need to be made available to the management at every point to make routine as well as strategic decisions.