Connected Government for a Developing Country Context: An Assessment of the Extent of Inter-Departmental Integration for Selected Government Departments in Zimbabwe

Connected Government for a Developing Country Context: An Assessment of the Extent of Inter-Departmental Integration for Selected Government Departments in Zimbabwe

Ephias Ruhode (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa) and Vesper Owei (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-820-8.ch008
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Abstract

An information society begins with a connected government and ICTs are the bedrock and founding pillars of such societies. To assist public administrators think beyond traditional e-government, this study describes a concept of connected government, whose philosophy rests on the integration of back-end processes that facilitate collaboration among government agencies. This article describes a case study of five government-owned organizations in a developing country environment where even the basic egovernment services are barely available. This study was carried out to determine the extent of integration within and across government agencies, with the aim of stimulating some thinking within and among government managers and administrators, around the possibility that a connected government can indeed be established in a developing country setting. The study exposes shortcomings to inter-departmental integration not only of the organizations under investigation, but also of other similar enterprises in developing countries within the same context. The paper concludes by proposing a set of recommendations toward diffusing connected government applications for inter-organizational collaboration.
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Introduction

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been harnessed in many governments throughout the world in order to improve seamlessness and service delivery to citizens, business community and other stakeholders. However, the European Commission (2003) report the emergency of ‘islands’ of government that are frequently unable to interoperate due to fragmentation resulting from uncoordinated efforts at all levels of public administration. Information sharing across government agencies provides new opportunities to enhance governance, which can include improved efficiency, new services, increased citizen participation, and an enhanced global information infrastructure. Referring to knowledge sharing and information, the Canadian International Development Agency’s Knowledge-Sharing Plan (2007) explains that it is an effort at “knowledge pooling” amongst diverse participants across all sectors of the economy in order to consolidate extant, generation of fresh, intellectual capital with a view to improving programming in governance and development (CIDA, 2007).

Given the foregoing, the purpose of this article is to address the concept of a connected government as a way of promoting information sharing within government agencies. This article is mainly motivated by the authors’ experience with disjoint government agencies in developing countries where getting a full cycle of services is a not easy. This paper therefore makes a modest but significant contribution to the body of knowledge in e-government as the concept of connected government is virtually unknown in a developing country setting, especially in Africa.

The structure of the chapter is as follows: The next section brings to the fore the connected government concept, which in this article is also referred to as a networked government. The next section gives the background information of the country under investigation, which is the Zimbabwe Government. The section that follows explains case study as it is applied to academic research. The cases selected for this study are also described in this section. Findings of the study are presented in the next section which is then followed by the section on analysis of the findings. Recommended solutions to challenges which would have emerged from analysis of findings are presented before a general discussion in the next section. The last section gives a conclusion to the chapter.

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