This chapter discusses practices, opportunities, and challenges in local e-government project management by means of a case study involving interviews, document studies, and an element of action research, over eight months. The analysis against e-government success factors finds seven “critical issues”; political timing, resource allocation, political mandate, distinction between administrative and political responsibilities, coordination of departments, dependence on providers, and use of standards. We found these issues open for local choice, influences of strong individuals and groups, and chance. This is a consequence of the prevailing strategic model for the public sector, New Public Management, which leaves these issues to be filled by negotiations among many actors with different roles, goals, and action space. The general lesson is that there is a need for practical ways of acting strategically to reduce the risk level and increase the ability to implement policy.
Electronic Government (eGovernment) is typically defined as a positive development concerning three main actors; government administrations; users of government services, i.e. citizens and companies; and the political system due to “better democracy” typically meaning more openness (Gore, 1993; Grant & Chau, 2005, Grönlund, 2002; 2005; OECD, 2003; UN, 2004; UNDESA, 2003). eGovernment definitions across the globe unanimously point to these three things, more efficient operations, better services and better democracy. An example is the EU definition:
Electronic Government is the use of Information and Communication Technologies in public administrations combined with organizational change and new skills in order to improve public services and democratic processes. [EU, 2004]
The value of eGovernment is supposed to come as (1) administrative rationalization, in particular government reorganization and integration across and within government agencies, and (2) increased value for citizens due to more openness, better integrated and hence better, quicker and more transparent services (Grönlund, 2002). Values of eGovernment are hence mainly conceived at system – whole-of-government – level. It is conventional wisdom that eGovernment benefits come from reorganization, not from ICT directly. Adding ICT to existing processes means added costs. Benefits have to come either by reduced production costs or better services, or both. The academic discussion of values is well summarized by Table 1 (adapted from Lau, 2007), and includes both tangible and non-tangible costs and benefits.Table 1.
Values pertinent to eGovernment (Lau, 2007)
| GOVERNMENTS|| NONGOVERNMENT STAKEHOLDER|
| Direct financial costs and benefits|| Reducing costs, increasing value of services|| Better services, reduced administrative burden|
| Direct non-financial costs and benefits|| Synergies across delivery channels, sharing and reusing data resources|| Increased user satisfaction, increasing privacy|
| Indirect costs and benefits|| “Good governance”; supporting legitimacy, supporting growth|