Web Technologies Supporting Direct Participation in Democratic Processes


The Role of e-Government

eGovernment can be defined as the use of information and communication technologies in public administrations combined with organisational change and new skills in order to improve public services and democratic processes and strengthen support to public policies.

eGovernment is an enabler to realise a better and more efficient administration. It improves the development and implementation of public policies and helps the public sector to cope with the conflicting demands of delivering more and better services with fewer resources.

While technology cannot transform bad procedures into good ones, eGovernment creates the choice for the public sector to do its tasks differently.

For example, by improving efficiency and competition in public procurement through electronic procurement, hundreds of millions of euros can be saved and reinvested in public goods and services, thus contributing to economic growth. At the same time, the transparency and accountability of public procurement improve.

Some governments have drastically cut the time needed to set up a new company and offer free online registration. This enables entrepreneurs to dedicate their limited resources to truly entrepreneurial activities. Through online social security reporting, companies already today save on administrative overheads, thus freeing resources for production or innovation.

Making information from the public sector online available for re-use (where allowed under the legal framework) enables businesses to develop more attractive and competitive products. Providing information about training and jobs across the EU on a one-stop website as a pan- European service, lowers the barrier for labour mobility in the Internal Market. Public information offered in several languages through a website helps immigrants to better find their way, thus easing economic and social integration.

eGovernment enables the public sector to maintain and strengthen good governance in the knowledge society. This means:

  • A public sector that is open and transparent: governments that are understandable and accountable to the citizens, open to democratic involvement and scrutiny.
  • A public sector that is at the service of all. A user-centred public sector will be inclusive, that is, will exclude no one from its services and respect everyone as individuals by providing personalised services.
  • A productive public sector that delivers maximum value for taxpayers’ money. It implies that less time is wasted standing in queues, errors are drastically reduced, more time is available for professional face-to-face service, and the jobs of civil servants can become more rewarding.

In short, eGovernment is helping to establish a more open, inclusive and productive public sector, in line with good governance. This is the pre-condition for a public sector that is prepared for the future.

Good governance in the sense above, achieved by the proper combination of information and communication technologies, organisational innovation and improved skills (‘eGovernance’), is also applicable to services such as health, education and public transport.