E-governance or electronic governance implies a smooth and convenient interface between the government and the citizen with the help of Information and communications technology (ICT). While e-governance can’t entirely replace manual governance, its application, even though limited, is good enough to affect day-to-day living of the people. E-governance i.e. use of computers in government business and service delivery at door step can reduce distances, linking remote village to government offices in cities, reduce the cost of conducting government business as well as incurring cost by the citizens. E-Governance can reduce staff, cut cost, check leaks in the governing system and can even ensure inbuilt monitoring of service delivery.
E-governance is the application of information and communication technology to delivering government services, exchange of information and integration of various standalone systems and services between the government and citizens, as well as back-office processes within the government. Through e-governance, government services can be provided to citizens in an efficient and transparent manner which is of a pressing need in any country particularly in under developing countries.
E-governance helps in building a people-oriented, development-centered and inclusive information society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge. The use of ICT ensures active participation of citizens in the various structures of government, media, private sector, civil society and political groups which certainly enhance the prospects of a participatory democracy.
Nowadays, governments alone cannot do the job of addressing people’s needs and win the trust of the citizens. The ICT tools have emerged as major instruments in effecting these changes thereby helping governments in performing their new roles of serving, re-inventing and steering and encouraging multi-stakeholder participation in policymaking which has the ownership at all levels.
Through e-governance communication between administrations, citizens and businesses can be used to enhance governance, access economic and social opportunities, public sector management and bridge the digital divide within a society and between countries. In Pakistan, efforts are underway to bridge this divide and for providing service at doorsteps. Among developing countries, Pakistan is performing very well in adopting ICT and the scope of e-services is being extended to far off areas with the help of stakeholders.
As rightly quoted by Pankaj Sharma, e-governance refers to the total restructuring of the government processes that encompass various agencies and levels. It can be classified under a variety of models depending upon the nature of interaction. These are Government to Citizens (G2C), Citizens to Government (C2G) Government to Government (G to G), Government to Business (G to B) and Government to NGO (G to N). Thus E-government aims to make the interactions between the various agencies more friendly, convenient, transparent and inexpensive.
Good governance encompasses a work culture based on the principle of transparency, accountability, responsiveness and citizen-friendly administration as defined by the World Bank report on good governance. Challenges to e-governance are still there despite enhanced accountability and responsiveness achieved as a result of ICT application. The institutional changes at the macro level include ameliorating flawed planning; therefore, real challenge is to ensure sustainability of e-governance projects due to technical and organizational issues. The focus should be on multi-level institutional changes.