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Avoiding eGov Failure 8

lesson 10 part 9


Avoiding eGov Failure: Ideas About External & Internal Drivers

This page offers ideas about how to address one factor identified as important to the success or failure of e-government projects. Follow this link for more information about such factors (and some related case examples).

Idea 1: Balance External And Internal Drivers

Without external encouragement, e-government projects may never be contemplated or started. Without internal ownership, e-government projects may never be developed. Without external facilitation, e-government projects may never be successfully implemented. eGovernment proposals must grapple with the difficult business of balancing and integrating these three forces.

eGovernment projects risk being too external: many initiatives in developing countries are donor- or vendor-led. The latter is particularly problematic given often conflicting objectives between vendors and governance, and the poor quality of some vendors. Care must be taken that both initiatives and institutions relating to e-government do not become vendor-dominated.

But e-government projects also risk being too internal: for some ruling elites in developing countries, 'it seems that governance is seen as a tool for serving personal, then ethnic, then social affiliation and last the national interest. All state machinery, institutions and mechanisms are viewed and used in this light.' [1] eGovernment projects can be just the same: if senior public officials do come to see e-government as being in their interests and are able to take control of those initiatives, they may steer projects away from broader goals.

It is very difficult, but a balance must be struck between external and internal drivers. One lesson from a Zambian e-government initiative was that an independent project team was required 'so that government cannot intimidate team members and that donor countries cannot hijack the project for their own benefit.' [2]

(From: Richard Heeks)

Idea 2: Meet A Senior Official's Agenda

eGovernment projects must have an internal driving force if they are to succeed. To work with this fact, you must therefore understand the agendas and interests of relevant senior officials. This may go as far as explicitly designing e-government projects to ensure that they meet at least one senior official's own agenda. This may create the necessary drive and championing for the project.

(From: Richard Heeks)

[1] Adeboye, T.O. (1995) Governance and Economic Development , paper presented at Good Governance for Africa conference, Maastricht, 23-24 November

[2] Njelesani, B.C. (1999) Zambia Health MIS , IICD