[AfrICANN-discuss] Ten Guiding Principles for E-civil Service

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Mon Dec 15 10:31:29 SAST 2008

http://egov-india.blogspot.com/Monday, December 01, 2008  Ten Guiding
Principles for E-civil
*Ten Guiding Principles for E-civil Service

*I Introduction*
Is there anything called e-civil service or electronic civil service? If so,
what is it? How does it differ from the traditional civil service? How can
it keep pace with technological developments? What role does it have in
Government 2.0? Is there any conflict between old conduct rules for the
civil servants and the new environment? What role does e-civil service play
in the development of e-government? Does it require separate recognition as
an entity and support so that it can accelerate the pace of development of
e-government worldwide? Questions like these must be asked and replies
attempted as they have direct bearing on the future course of development of

*II E-civil Service*
There are two primary drivers of e-government: technology vendors and civil
service. Technology vendors have succeeded in promoting e-government but to
a limited extent. Their limitation is that their promotion of e-government
is limited to their own technology. Civil service has also promoted
e-government but to a much lesser extent. Its limitations are that it works
under a rule-bound environment, is always caught napping in technology
developments, and above all, has no motivation to promote e-government.
Among the two, however, civil service has greater stakes in e-government as
it is required to serve the government in power as well as citizens.

Government implements its decisions through civil service. The civil service
also provides policy inputs. Civil service is appropriately described as the
backbone of government as government policies and programme can fail in
implementation by the civil service or wrong policies can be formulated with
its help. What, however, is not recognized is the quiet emergence of e-civil
service or electronic civil service in tandem with the emergence of
e-government since mid-1990s. If e-government is to succeed, not only the
emergence of e-civil service has to be recognized but strengthened as well
so as to enable it face the new challenge of e-government competently.

*E-civil service *or *electronic civil service *may be defined in two
important and markedly different senses:

*E-civil service *or *electronic civil service*: As the civil service using
information and communication technology (ICT) in conducting its internal
work and external public service delivery. It differs from the traditional
civil service on a number of important parameters. We will refer to it as
e-civil service or electronic civil service.

*Ai-civil service *or *artificial intelligence (AI) civil service*: As
artificial intelligence (AI) agents performing the civil service jobs, say,
determining amount of fine in traffic violations. Chun (2007) describes
application of artificial intelligence (AI) in immigration control in Hong
Kong special administrative region (SAR) by using assessment rule engine,
schema-based reasoning engine, workflow rule engine, case-based reasoning
(CBR) engine, and self-learning engine. E-civil service and AI- civil
service can be distinguished.

The emergence of e-government has increased the responsibility of civil
service by incorporating the requirements of e-civil service and ai-civil
service. In the initial stages of development of e-government, the
traditional civil service, e-civil service and ai-civil service will all
co-exist. E-civil service and ai-civil service are thus add-on to the
existing civil service and not its replacement. It is only in the final
stage that one can think of e-civil service and ai-civil service replacing
the traditional civil service, and that too only in part, notwithstanding
the projections of futurologists. However, e-civil service and ai-civil
service both will gain increasingly more ground with the passage of time. In
the new environment of e-governance, therefore, the task of civil service
has become quite enormous, unprecedented and, yes, very challenging.

*III An E-democracy Model Highlighting the Key Role of E-civil Service*
An e-democracy model highlighting the key role of e-civil service can now be
proposed. The model proposes that (i) e-civil service is the backbone of
government and e-government, (ii) e-civil service is required to serve
democracy and e-democracy on the one hand and citizen and e-citizen on the
other, (iii) Democracy is characterized by rule by majority, and adult
suffrage, (iv) E-democracy is characterized by the Internet and
e-engagement, (v) Democracy-performance mismatch has resulted in widespread
embracing of e-government, and (vi) e-engagement is an integral part of

*IV Guiding Principles for Development of E-civil Service*The e-democracy
model proposed above (Section III) highlights the key role of e-civil
service in promoting e-democracy. The coming into being of e-civil service
is raising a number of important issues, many of which are unprecedented,
which require to be addressed. Fountain (2007:6-7) observes "In one sense,
digital tools merely enhanced the power of a set of reforms already underway
and accepted as legitimate and appropriate by civil servants. Yet the
extraordinary power of the internet to allow citizens to access government
"anytime, anywhere," greatly increased accessibility and made abstruse
government documents and procedures, now online, more glaringly unresponsive
to citizens." The following ten guiding principles are suggested for the
development of e-civil service.

*Principle 1. Recognise the Emergence of E-Civil Service*
E-civil service is quietly entering the governments worldwide. However, it
has so far not been formally recognized. This has twofold consequences.
First, the non-recognition deprives e-civil service of any systematic
development as a result of which the quality of e-government is adversely
affected. Secondly, the non-recognition is leading to piling up of issues
which, with passage of time, are only getting more complicated making their
subsequent solution elusive, time-consuming and costly. Thirdly, the
application of artificial intelligence (AI) to civil service tasks has given
rise to, what this author has called, artificial intelligence (AI) civil
service, has also not being recognized. New technologies create policy
vacuums (Moor 1985). However, the policy vacuum created by the emergence of
e-civil service has so far not been filled. It has thus become essential to
formally recognize the emergence of e-civil service.

*Principle 2. Encourage Civil Service to Work Online*
One of the main conclusions of case studies of e-government projects in five
countries-Argentina, Mexico, India, United Arab Emirates, and Tunisia-
analyzed to see how personnel issues slowed implementation of e-government
projects is that "High-level support does not ensure staff buy-in." (WB
2005). There is so far no incentive for civil servants to work online. As a
result, adoption of e-government practices is slow in civil service. The
typical incentives are an entry of work done online in annual performance
appraisal, grant of an increment in salary for doing good work, and formal
recognition by grant of award for exemplary work in e-government. These are,
however, mundane incentives which have only limited impact, if any. A
mandatory policy may prove to be counter-productive as it may invite
hostility from civil servants. Likewise an absence of policy will only
maintain status quo. A middle path may be a practical strategy. For example,
a mandatory policy may be adopted for routine tasks in the civil service
like sanction of casual leave, approval of tour programme and filing of
property returns. For rest of the tasks, civil service has to be encouraged
to work online by providing appropriate incentives.

*Principle 3. Encourage E-civil Service to Use Web 2.0 Technologies*The
essence of Web 2.0 or Social Web is interactivity. And Web 2.0 is a reality.
Many civil servants lurk in discussion groups but do not actively
participate in discussion for fear of violating conduct rules and inviting
the wrath of their superiors. On their part, the governments too have so far
also not issued any guidelines on this issue. In a pioneering attempt,
Cabinet Office in United Kingdom has issued the following guidelines: 1. Be
credible, 2. Be consistent, 3. Be responsive, 4. Be integrated, and 5. Be a
civil servant (CO 2008). Clift (2008) notes: "Every country needs a similar
policy guide or alternatively as a whole, their government will become
irrelevant to most people. Countries with civil servants disconnected
online, have disconnected democracies." Our civil services are still steeped
in 19th century ethos. They must now become civil services of 21st century.
One way to achieve this objective is to encourage e-civil service to use Web
2.0 technologies.

*Principle 4. Recognise New Demands of Citizens on Civil Service*
Civil service is known for not changing its way of working. History proves
this statement. Change when introduced is easily absorbed into the system
and the civil service quickly reverts to its old ways of working. All this,
however, appears to be changing in the age of e-government. The emergence of
e-government since mid-1990s has started placing new demands on civil
service. Not only is e-government changing the way e-government works (for
example, making it more technology-oriented) and the work it does (for
example, adding the online work) but also citizen expectation from civil
service. Citizens now want value-added, tailor-made public service delivery
online and, what is more important from civil service point of view, hold
the civil service, and not its political masters, directly responsible for
it. So far civil service has worked protected under the cloak of anonymity.
This is no longer possible in the age of e-government which espouses the
cause of open and transparent government. These new demands of citizens on
civil service, therefore, need to be recognized.

*Principle 5. Treat E-civil Service as an Instrument of Administrative
Administrative reform is an uninspiring term. Its poor reputation comes from
its poor record of achievements so far. Kraemer and King (2005:2) are of the
view that "information technology has never been an instrument of
administrative reform; rather it has been used to reinforce existing
administrative and political arrangements." It is difficult to subscribe to
this view. If improving internal processes of government is part of
administrative reforms, then application of information technology (IT) to
government is very much a move for administrative reforms. However, and it
is important, application of information technology (IT) to government, by
itself, is not e-government. What makes it e-government is the involvement
of citizens in decision-making processes of government, a dimension
altogether missing in earlier phases of application of information
technology (IT) to government. Since e-civil service, an altogether new
development, is the backbone of e-government, it has to be treated as an
instrument of administrative reforms.

*Principle 6. Set Up an Exclusive Portal for E-civil Service*E-civil service
now requires an exclusive portal for itself, catering to the needs of civil
servants in the era of e-government. Such a portal will keep the civil
servants fully updated about the latest rules and regulations, up to date
civil list, sanction of leave, physical fitness exercise programmes and
guidance, settlement of traveling allowance (T.A.), medical and
miscellaneous claims, career advancement opportunities like mid-service
training programmes, availability of online inter-active training programmes
and online technical support for computer maintenance and use, annual
performance appraisal, job opportunities and career counseling. It should
provide RSS feed so that civil servants can keep themselves up to date with
any development. Likewise it should have a discussion group or blog and a
wiki so that civil servants could participate in them. This will be a closed
portal accessible only to serving civil servants and managed by an officer
of sufficient seniority. It will thus be a comprehensive one-stop service to
civil servants. Some governments have set up such sub-portals but they do
not provide comprehensive services.

*Principle 7. Introduce E-recruitment to Civil Service*
A Government Guide to Best Practice defines e-recruitment, also known as
online recruitment, as "the use of Internet and intranet technology to
recruit including candidate attraction, employer branding, candidate
tracking, candidate selection, and hiring." (CO 2007:65).The components of
e-recruitment are: (i) attracting candidates online to your website or your
organization, (ii) communicating your employer brand and recruitment
proposition online, (iii) tracking, communicating with and selecting
candidates online, (iv) testing candidates online, and (v) on-boarding
(otherwise known as welcoming and induction) candidates online (ibid.:7).
Many developed countries have set up recruitment gatways. In United Kingdom,
for example, the Cabinet Office has set up a Civil Service Recruitment
Gateway at
Likewise Singapore Government has set up a recruitment portal at
https://app.vog.gov.sg/Presentation/index.aspx which it calls VOG (lateral
image of GOV). Other countries should follow suit.

*Principle 8. Deal with Disciplinary Cases Online*One of the sore points
with civil servants is the inordinate delay which the disciplinary
proceedings against them take in completion. Such disciplinary proceedings
call for penalties ranging from mere warning to dismissal or removal from
service and are typically launched while the civil servant is in employment.
These come in the way in his promotion as and when such an opportunity
occurs. The procedure involved in dealing with disciplinary cases against
the civil servants is quite complicated and time-consuming. It is a case of
e-government that such cases can be expedited if dealt with online. In such
a case the cause list can be posted online, so also the documents upon which
the department proposes to rely to prove its case. The documents are
required to be supplied to the concerned civil servant under rules. The
final order too can be posted online. In case the facility of
video-conferencing is available, hearings in the case as well as recording
of evidence can be done online.

*Principle 9. Sort Out Ethical Issues of E-civil Service*
A number of ethical issues have started emerging as a result of civil
servants surfing the Internet while in office and otherwise also. First is
the maintenance of blog. Can a civil servant have a blog of his own covering
a subject dealt with by him? Second, can a civil servant actively
participate in discussion groups, communities of practice (COPs) and social
networking sites and defend or clarify his department's position? Among
these concerns, use of email at workplace has gained attention as it is most
widely used tool in e-government. Oregon State Archives and Oregon
Association of Municipal Recorders have issued a very comprehensive E-mail
Policy Manual for Local Government (OSA n.d.) which has a template also. In
India, the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances
(DARPG) has issued comprehensive guidelines on use of email with due
emphasis on e-mail as an official record (DARPG n.d.). But not many civil
servants are either aware of these instructions or have only vague idea
about them. The emerging ethical concerns need to be sorted out.

*Principle 10. Train E-civil Service in Government 2.0*
Training is time-tested method for upgrading knowledge and skills of civil
servants. It is generally quite a challenging task when the trainees are
in-service civil servants but it is more challenging in case of e-government
as it involves concurrent training in technology also. Schelin (2004, Table
5:272) suggests a training curriculum based on six modules in which Digital
Civic Engagement is the sixth model. Whichever training module is selected,
it is necessary that the civil servants are systematically trained in
Government 2.0, whose essence is inter-activity which has been possible only
by e-government tools, as against out-of-date Government 1.0, which is based
on one-way communication from government to citizens. Training in Government
2.0 will include understanding the new role of civil servants, appreciation
of emergence of e-citizen and e-citizenship, understanding of e-concepts
associated with e-democracy, knowledge of e-engagement and e-participation
tools and, finally, involvement of e-citizens in public policy formulation
actively supported by e-civil service.

*V Concluding Remarks*
Weberian bureaucracy characterized by objectivity, administration by rules,
and anonymity is a remarkable improvement over earlier form of civil service
characterized by subjectivity and administration by whims and fancies. The
practice of Weberian bureaucracy, however, revealed a number of weaknesses
as a result of which a number of measures of administrative reforms were
undertaken in many countries prominent among which is the re-inventing
government movement or new public management which requires running of
government as a private sector corporation. This too had a very limited
success as the two- government and private sector corporation- are based on
fundamentally different premises, namely, the former is based on
service-orientation and the latter on profit-orientation. E-government is
the latest measure in administrative reforms which makes a powerful assault
on the weaknesses of existing governments, particularly in their relation
with their citizens. However, the realization of full potential of
e-government is still eluding us. This can be achieved only if the emergence
of e-civil service is formally recognized and it is supported to enable it
discharge its new role. Ten guiding principles for e-civil service developed
here can help us in this regard.

Chun, Andy Hon Wai (2007): Using AI for e-Government Automatic Assessment of
Immigration Application Forms,
http://www.cs.cityu.edu.hk/~hwchun/research/PDF/iaai_2007.pdf (accessed :
November 25, 2008).

Clift, Steven (2008): UK Government Advises Civil Servants How to
Participate Online, DoWire.org, June 21,
http://www.dowire.org/notes/?p=417(accessed: November 25, 2008).

CO (Cabinet Office) (2007): E-recruitment projects in the public sector: A
Government Guide to Best Practice, Second Edition,Written By WCN Plc on
behalf of HM Government,
November 29, 2008)

CO (Cabinet Office) (2008): Principles for participation online, London,
United Kingdom, the Author
November 25, 2008).

DARPG (Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances) (n.d.):
E-mail Management Guidelines,
http://darpg.nic.in/arpg-website/eReference/e-mail-mgmt.doc (accessed:
November 29, 2008)

Fountain, Jane E. (2007): Bureaucratic Reform and E-Government in the United
States: An Institutional Perspective, Amherst, University of Massachusetts,
National Center for Digital Government, Center for Public Policy and
Administration, Department of Political Science, NCDG Working Paper No.
07-006, September 18,
November 26, 2008).

Kraemer, Kenneth and L. John Leslie King (2005): Information technology and
administrative reform:
will e-government be different? August,
http://www.si.umich.edu/~jlking/IJEGR-Final.pdf (accessed: November 28,

Moor, James H. (1985): What is Computer Ethics? in Bynum, Terrell Ward (ed.)
(1985), Computers & Ethics, Blackwell, pp.266 – 75,
November 24, 2008).

OSA (Oregon State Archives) and Oregon Association of Municipal Recorders
(n.d.): E-mail Policy Manual for Local Government,
(accessed: November 29, 2008)

Schelin, Shannon Howle (2004): Training for Digital Government, in
Pavlichev, Alexei and G.David Garson (eds.) (2004): Digital Government:
Principles and Best Practices, Hershey, PA, Idea Publishing, Chapter XVII,
pp 263-275.

WB (World Bank) (2005): Staff incentives and project implementation: lessons
from e-government, PREM notes: Public Sector, October, Number 101,
http://www1.worldbank.org/prem/PREMNotes/premnote101.pdf (accessed: November
26, 2008).
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