Transparency Issues in E-Governance and Civic Engagement

Transparency Issues in E-Governance and Civic Engagement

Sherri Greenberg (The University of Texas at Austin, USA) and Angela Newell (The University of Texas at Austin, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1740-7.ch087
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Abstract

Today, people regularly debate the meaning of the term transparency relative to government. President Obama has made transparency a prominent issue in the federal government with his directive to use online resources to promote transparency. However, transparency is important at all levels of government, particularly transitioning from e-government to e-governance. This chapter discusses the definition of transparency related to e-governance and the implementation of transparency initiatives. The mission is to set the standards for government transparency and citizen engagement with an online presence. The standards and roadmap for achieving transparency in e-governance involve politics, policy, and technology. This chapter outlines the necessary political, policy, technology, and transparency issues in e-governance. The discussion and recommendations covers issues such as political will, insufficient knowledge, and fear. Also, recommendations address best practices in policy development and implementation. The current applications and data recommendations cover technology developments.
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Background

“E-government refers to one aspect of digital government: the provision of governmental services by electronic means, usually over the Internet. E-governance, in contrast, refers to a vision of changing the nature of the state” (Garson, 2006).

This chapter focuses on transparency issues in e-governance and civic engagement and the resultant changes in the nature of the state of government through transaction to governance through transparency and participation. E-governance involves the ability of citizens and government to carry out the operations of governance including deliberation and decision making online and occurs in the transformational stage of e-government.

The stages of e-government are as follows:

  • Website presence stage

  • Interaction & Communication Stage

  • Transactional stage

  • Transformational stage (Sood, 2000)

The website stage involves simply having an Internet presence. The interaction and communication stage entails email communication between government and citizens. The transactional stage allows citizens to transact government business such as renewing auto registration or paying taxes online. Most sizeable state and local governments have reached the transactional stage and some are entering the transformational stage by providing GIS, interactive, open source, and wireless applications. E-governance is more likely to occur in the transformation stage.

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