The next phase of e-Government
Conclusion:The Federal Government is proud of its achievements in getting community acceptance of e-government. It has connected more citizens and customers over the last 2-3 years and e-government is proving to be an efficient means of processing transactions, and disseminating information.
The Government is on the brink of taking its activities online to a new phase, which will not result in a radical overhaul of current practice, but rather a consolidation of extant systems and delivery.
Yet despite the government’s success there is considerable criticism from SMEs of what it can offer them. The magazine CRN covered this story last year. The SME’s dispute with government was concisely summed up by one ICT executive as hinging on the perceived higher financial risk, or stability, of an SME. In addition the level of liability insurance the supplier must have as required by government – which for many SMEs inhibits their engagement – means the prospect of winning government business, is remote.
In the context of the challenges for SMEs, the imminent reappraisal of e-Government policy should take into account pragmatic methods to permit this sector of the market to compete with larger enterprises. It might do this by setting an objective for SMEs to win a percentage of business by a specified timeframe. This is not a new idea and since 1953 under the Small Business Act it has been legislated in the US. The ICT sector in France has formed the Richelieu Committee to implement a similar agenda.
Alternatively, government might modify some engagement conditions, depending on circumstances, for certain types of services. In developing policy allowance must be made for the large difference between hardware, software and intellectual consulting engagements; that is, between the risks associated with one service versus another. Such practical measures may improve the competitive field for enterprises competing for government business and be a boon for SMEs who can use government contracts to develop their businesses in other markets and overseas.