The eGovernment Transformation Plan was formally launched to a packed ballroom yesterday, at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel Muscat, in a symposium organized by the Information Technology Authority (ITA). The event was held under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Fadl bin Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Harthy, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, and Dr. Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, CEO of ITA, as well as the presence of a number of Honorable Ministers and Excellencies, and other government officials representing directorates and departments of information technology in government institutions.
This symposium comes in line with the national strategy for e.oman and Digital Oman eGovernment, to determine what has been done so far in terms of preparing the infrastructure, and the development of eGovernment services, capacity-building and national skills in the field of information technology, and in order to promote eGovernment services. The aim of this symposium is to work towards enhancing the delivery of government e-services to bring about the desired eGovernment Transformation, in accordance with certain policies and standards and within a specific time frame. With such a large turnout, it is clear that eGovernment transformation is a hot topic of great interest to many.
Forming the basis for the information to be shared and discussed during the symposium were a number of key presentations. Following the opening speech, invited guest speaker, Mr. John P. Roberts, a Research Vice President and Distinguished Analyst with Gartner's CIO and Executive Leadership research team, focused on the Importance of eGovernment transformation. Mr. Khalid Sulaiman Al Siyabi, a Consultant in the Infrastructure & eServices Division at ITA, addressed the Implementation of eGovernment Transformation, explaining the stages of the eGovernment Transformation Plan. Highlighting important eGovernment Transformation Measurement Tools and Indicators was Mr. Maged Boulos, In-Charge-Of ITA’s Strategic & Planning Division. Rounding out the presenters was Mr. Syed Faruk, a Consultant in the Governance & Advisory Division at ITA, who spoke on the topic of eTransformation Methodology and Frameworks.
Opening today’s symposium, keynote speaker and CEO of ITA, Dr. Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, talked about the importance of the eGovernment Transformation Plan, given the important directive by the Council of Ministers. At the core, the aim of the plan is to increase the effectiveness of government services and automation available to citizens, businesses, and government agencies electronically, with a focus on the development of the integration of electronic services, provided seamlessly on the Internet, so that they are available at all times, in a safe and easy manner. Outlining the strategic vision for eGovernment, Dr. Salim highlighted the readiness of the Sultanate for eGovernment. He then addressed the current situation since the Council of Minister’s directive in June 2012, and then touched upon the six stages of the transition to eGovernment, noting that the stages would be explained later in the day, in greater detail.
Role of Government Institutions
Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi also spoke about the role of the Information Technology Authority (ITA) along with the roles of the government organizations in the implementation of this eGovernment Transformation Plan and transition towards effective eGovernment. Pertaining to the role of government institutions in the activation of the plan, each organization is to take the lead towards the formulation and implementation of the eGovernment Transformation Plan, with the continued support of the leaders of government institution committees and task forces organization. They are to formulate a comprehensive and realistic strategy to implement the plan, in close coordination with the Information Technology Authority, allocating budget and adequate resources for the implementation of all phases of the eTransformation and re-engineering of business and procedures within government agencies, to increase their efficiency and further integrate the applications and services of government agencies, refining the capacity of staff and workers in government entities.
Importance of the eGovernment Transformation Plan
Following Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi’s opening speech Mr. John P. Roberts took to the podium. Invited to share his experience and expertise in IT strategies and governance, Mr. Roberts is a Research Vice President and Distinguished Analyst with Gartner's CIO and Executive Leadership research team. He specializes in helping (Chief Information Officers) CIOs and IT leaders develop effective IT strategies that contribute to business transformation.
Highlighting the successful examples of other countries around the world such as the United Kingdom, Singapore and Canada, Mr. Roberts spoke about the challenges and changes encountered by each country on the road to eGovernment transformation. He spoke of key management tools which will be used to drive focus and discipline will include: clear strategy; overall architecture; good governance; and, senior government leadership. To ensure success, he believes that leadership engagement over time is what will be required. At the end of his presentation, Mr. Roberts succinctly summarized the process of the eGovernment transformation commenting, “It’s not about the technology, it’s about the people.”
Implementation of eGovernment Transformation
Mr. Khalid Sulaiman Al Siyabi, a Consultant in the Infrastructure & eServices Division at ITA, addressed the Implementation of eGovernment Transformation, explaining the stages of the eGovernment Transformation Plan. The eGovernment Transformation Plan consists of six main stages that have been set according to policies and standards, within a specific time frame, in order to ensure the full transformation to eGovernment. The stages are:
ePresence – As the most basic form, governments will publish simple and limited information on their websites, such as the agency's vision and mission, office hours, contact information, and official documents. Government agencies have to publish in both Arabic and English. The completion date of this stage is in June 2013.
Interaction – This stage, which sets December 2013 as its completion date, provides for simple interaction between the government agencies and the public, and includes email systems, basic search engines and official forms for download. Government agencies will also have a Call Centre to receive both phone calls and sms. Government agencies will also interact among themselves via online through email, sms and digital data exchange.
Transactions – This stage will enable the public to conduct complete online transactions such as license applications, course registrations and personal information updates. The phase includes the ability to carry out ePayments. Government agencies will use a mixture of internet and telephony technologies. This stage will end in December 2014.
Transformation – This phase provides value-added, public-oriented eServices. It focuses on vital services from public’s perspective and convenience. These eServices will involve both vertical (i.e. government agencies in the Same Line of Business such as health and education) and horizontal integration (i.e. government agencies in different Lines of Business, but who carry out similar functions like HR). This transformation requires detailed coordination work and business process re-engineering. Please refer to the OeGAF Business Reference Model (BRM) for details on Lines of Business. The completion date of this stage will be December 2015.
eParticipation – This is a long-term goal for eGovernment development. By offering tools such as online voting, polling and surveys, government agencies can improve their government performance through social participation and citizen involvement. At the same time, eGovernment will gradually change the way in which the government and the people interact to make consensus and transparent government decisions.
eBorder / eRegional – Another long-term goal is to offer collaborative services with neighboring countries and other countries in the region. It requires sharing and exchanging dynamic data among the countries with agreed SLAs. At least the 4th Stage of Transformation should be reached before embarking on this stage.
eGovernment Transformation Measurement Tools and Indicators
Mr. Maged Boulos, In-Charge-Of ITA’s Strategic & Planning Division, highlighted the importance of utilizing eGovernment transformation measurement tools and indicators; using standards and standardized methodology to assess the readiness of government agencies to transform to electronic governance. Using such measurement tools permits the continuous formulation and updating of goals and plans for eTransformation by government institutions, based on careful and realistic assessment. This will enable decision makers in government entities to regularly access updates regarding the all aspects of the eTransformation; assist the ITA in determining the appropriate means to provide support to government agencies; and, issue periodic reports on the measurement of the level of progress towards eGovernment transformation.
eTransformation Methodology and Frameworks
Rounding out the presenters was Mr. Syed Faruk, a Consultant in the Governance & Advisory Division at ITA, who spoke on the topic of eTransformation Methodology and Frameworks. The main focus of his presentation was to provide guidelines for agencies in the eGovernment transformation implementation journey, describing what the government agencies need to do. Defining exactly what eGovernment is Mr. Faruk described it as the transformation of internal and external public sector relationships, through ICT in order to optimize government service delivery and citizen participation. It is the digital interaction between: government and citizens; government and businesses/commerce; government and employees; and, also between government and government agencies. He also defined an eService as the appropriate use of ICT to transform and improve the performance of a manual government service into an electronic service. Outlining the key areas of eGovernment transformation, Mr. Faruk concluded his presentation.
eGovernment Transformation Plan – website
For more information about the eGovernment Transformation Plan, the Information Technology Authority (ITA) has established a dedicated website: http://www.ita.gov.om/eGoven