This chapter will compare the emergence of e-government in Denmark and Canada with a particular emphasis on the municipal and inter-governmental dimensions to the digital adaptation of the public sector. Denmark and Canada share many general traits in terms of the emergence of e-government in both countries. Internet and telecommunications infrastructures are well developed, widely accessible, and (on a relative basis) affordably priced; both countries enjoy high standards of living. Local governments differ greatly, however, in terms of political responsibility and autonomy, financing capacities, and degrees of influence over more senior order government levels. These differences are particularly evident in the field of healthcare, but they are also more generalized and the implications for e-government will be considered in terms of likely future trajectories of public sector reform and democratic legitimacy in each country. In particular, an important lesson derived from this chapter is that Canada faces greater challenges than Denmark in collaborating across jurisdictional boundaries and that weaker municipal capacity within the Canadian context is central to this concern.
Four Dimensions Of E-Government
As noted in the introduction, one useful way to dissect e-government and the types of relational, managerial and governance changes occurring throughout the public sector is to invoke four dimensions of change – service, security, transparency, and trust. These four dimensions will be explained a bit further before proceeding with a review of Canadian and Danish experiences and how they compare.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Government: The political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc.; political administration.
Electronic: Of, pertaining to, or controlled by computers, or computer products and services.
Customer: The party to which the goods are to be supplied or service rendered by the supplier.
Governance: A method or system of government or management; exercise of authority; control.
Citizen: A formal member of a political community, membership of which confers rights (such as the right of political participation) and responsibilities (adherence to the rule of law).
E-Health: Relatively recent term for healthcare practice which is supported by electronic processes and communication; it can encompass a range of services that are at the edge of medicine/healthcare and information technology.
Digital: Electronic technology that generates, stores, and processes data; describes the use of digital pulses, signals or values to represent data in computer graphics, telecommunications systems and word processing.
Collaboration: Any cooperative effort between and among governmental entities (as well as with private partners) through which the partners work together to achieve common goals.
Technology: The body of know-how about the means and methods of producing goods and services. Modern technology is increasingly science-based, but also includes methods of organisation as well as physical technique.
Service: Work done for others as an occupation or business.
Federalism: A system of government in which sovereignty is divided between a central government and several provincial or state governments.