Electronic Governance for Sustainable Development

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  • This programme of the UNU International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST) is increasingly relevant because the link between governance and development is now well established, with governance playing a central role in any development effort and good governance considered a pre-condition to achieving any form of development. This is particularly true for sustainable development (SD) which, as a socially-instituted process of adaptive change, faces very particular governance requirements such as vertical and horizontal policy integration to ensure coherency of government decisions, engaging citizens and other non-state actors in the sustainable development process, and adopting a long-term policy perspective to address inter-generational concerns.

    In this context, electronic governance (EGOV) entails strategic use of information technology to enable the governance of the sustainable development process. The aim of the Electronic Governance for Sustainable Development (EGOV4SD) programme is to conduct research, provide policy support to governments and the United Nations system, develop educational programmes, and build capacity among universities and governments to better understand how SD objectives and EGOV programmes can be aligned, and how to develop integrated EGOV4SD solutions.

    Twinning

    A twinning arrangement is being discussed with the Centre for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University at Albany, SUNY, in the United States. The mission of CTG is to foster public sector innovation, enhance capability, generate public value, and support good governance. Similarly to the EGOV4SD Programme, CTG is involved in both research and practice though strategic engagement with the local government (New York State Government). The choice of CTG as a twin institution is based on the CTG’s complementary expertise in public administration and organizational and behavioral sciences. In addition, CTG as one of the foremost Centers of Excellence in Electronic Governance research and practice, provides access to funding and partnerships within the United States, North America and Europe, complementing the Programme’s network in the developing world. The twinning arrangement commenced with concrete research collaboration on service integration for smart cities, a planned Executive Master’s Programme on Government Information Leadership, and the organization of ICEGOV2012 in Albany in September 2012.

    Focal Points

    Senior Research Fellow Dr. Tomasz Janowski, Academic Programme Officers Dr. Adegboyega Ojo, and Dr. Elsa Estevez are focal points for this programme.

    Purpose

    The grand challenges for EGOV4SD research include a number of questions. What new technologies, policies and strategies can be adopted to reduce all forms of digital divide — geographic, gender, age, socio-economic, etc. for citizens to be able to participate in government decisions that directly affect their lives? How to integrate information technology (IT) policies with economic, social and environmental policies across different levels of government, and what kind of IT tools can support the integration of the national policies with global policies on environmental change, health pandemics, human security or terrorism? And finally, how can the new generation of EGOV4SD policies, strategies, architectures and infrastructure, be developed and diffused to support the global sustainability transition?

    Responding to these challenges, the programme will focus on five research themes: i) EGOV4SD programme frameworks; ii) EGOV4SD architectures, infrastructure and services; iii) EGOV4SD impact assessment; iv) comparative analysis of EGOV4SD strategies and programmes across countries and levels of government; and v) EGOV4SD innovation transfer and knowledge management.

    Approach

    The programme is guided by five strategic goals. The first two are in regards to research; that is, to invest in high-quality research in the five thematic areas listed in the Programme Purpose, using project-generated data for validation; and to apply research results to developing frameworks and guidelines to enable policy- and decision-makers to deploy appropriate tools and technologies for EGOV4SD development. The third goal, focused on capacity building, is to carry out projects to build government capacity in applying the developed frameworks and guidelines in defining and evaluating EGOV4SD policies, strategies and programmes, and to evaluate research results. The fourth aims at policy support and seeks to develop a Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) framework to direct and coordinate ICT and EGOV4SD initiatives nationally and internationally. The fifth goal on education is to establish an Executive Master’s Programme in Government Information Leadership to address the need for GCIO professional education, with sustainable development objectives addressed throughout the curriculum. These strategies aim to establish the programme as one of three leading centres for EGOV4SD research and practice.

    Gender

    Half of the programme’s senior team members and one out of three focal persons are women. Gender mainstreaming will be applied in the implementation of the programme’s capacity building, policy support and education-related strategies, and in the programme’s recruitment practice, including the presence of the gender mainstreaming clause in all vacancy announcements.

    Target Audience

    Primary beneficiaries of the programme’s research, policy support, capacity building and education efforts are academic, government and intergovernmental organizations located in developing and in transition countries, or working for the benefit of such countries. Of particular interest are the organizations responsible for, or engaged in the development, diffusion and coordination of information technology capabilities (human, organizational, technical) across different levels and functions of government and beyond the government in the service of sustainable socio-economic development. The users of various programme outcomes include academics, postgraduate students, policy- and decision-makers, public managers and others.

    Intended Impact

    Impact: Contribution to a UN assessment/issue/query
    Target: Promote and contribute to the establishment of the Chief Information Officer function within United Nations organizations (UNCIO), with the responsibility to develop and manage information technology capabilities, to strategically align such capabilities with existing organizational objectives, and to lead the organizations towards adopting new strategic objectives made possible by IT.
    How: The target will be pursued by making available a systematic process for establishing a UNCIO function, supported by many cases of Government Chief Information Officer functions from around the world, including roles and responsibilities, institutional and community support, required competencies, curricula for developing such competencies, and existing education programmes to implement such curricula. Further, the target will make it possible for UN organizations and their qualified staff to participate in the planned Executive Master’s Programme in Government Information Leadership.

    Impact: Influencing policymaking at the regional level
    Target: Enabling systematic EGOV development within the member countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) and other UN regional economic and social commissions.
    How: The target will be pursued by offering the EGOV.* development model and its components — stakeholder analysis, readiness assessment, benchmarking, strategy and programme development, and human and institutional capacity building — to assist UN regional economic and social commissions in participatory development of the regional EGOV development frameworks, supported by the EGOV.* application experience and lessons learnt from Macao (e-Macao), Cameroon (EGOV.CM) and Afghanistan (EGOV.AF).

    Impact: Furthering knowledge in an academic field
    Target: Contribute to establishing EGOV4SD as an interdisciplinary study domain.
    How: This target will be pursued by: 1) conceptualizing EGOV in the SD context; 2) relating EGOV4SD to the existing EGOV, SD and ICT4D research; 3) building an EGOV4SD research framework and agenda, guided by the digital divide, policy integration, and EGOV4SD development challenges; and 4) pursuing concrete research in this agenda along the five thematic directions — EGOV4SD programme frameworks; EGOV4SD architectures, infrastructure and services; EGOV4SD impact assessment; comparative analysis of EGOV4SD strategies and programmes; and EGOV4SD innovation transfer and knowledge management.

    Impact: Curriculum development
    Target: A curriculum for Chief Information Officer positions in government and intergovernmental (including UN) organizations, contributing to the establishment of the internationally recognized and practiced Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) profession.
    How: This target will be pursued by: 1) carrying out research on EGOV and GCIO education; 2) surveying existing EGOV and GCIO education programmes, GCIO vacancy announcements and profiles and interviews with current and former GCIOs; 3) developing and benchmarking a GCIO curriculum; and 4) establishing the Executive Master’s Programme in Government Information Leadership to implement the GCIO curriculum and to target the education needs of mid-career executive professionals who currently hold, are expected to hold, or aspire to hold Chief Information Officer or related leadership positions in government or intergovernmental organizations.

    Impact: Capacity development in developed/developing countries
    Target: Building the human, organizational and institutional capacity of governments and universities, particularly in developing and in transition countries, and relevant intergovernmental organizations to apply EGOV in the service of sustainable development.
    How: This target will be pursued by: 1) organizing advanced training events with UNESCWA and other UN regional economic and social commissions focusing on GCIO functions in member states; 2) including SD objectives in the curricula of such events; 3) offering methodological and strategic assistance in establishing GCIO functions in the member states; 4) making the planned Executive Master’s Programme in Government Information Leadership available to build a pool of qualified GCIOs in the member states; and 5) engaging local academic partners in localizing and partly implementing the GCIO curriculum.

    Research Findings

    The expected research outputs include the contribution to establishing EGOV4SD as an interdisciplinary study domain through: 1) conceptualizing EGOV in the SD context; 2) relating EGOV4SD to the existing EGOV, SD and ICT4D research; and 3) building an EGOV4SD research framework and agenda, guided by the digital divide, policy integration and EGOV4SD development challenges. In addition, the research is expected to advance this agenda along the five thematic directions: 1) EGOV4SD programme frameworks; 2) EGOV4SD architectures, infrastructure and services; 3) EGOV4SD impact assessment; 4) comparative analysis of EGOV4SD strategies and programmes; and 5) EGOV4SD innovation transfer and knowledge management.

    Policy Bridging

    The strategic goals pursued by the programme include two goals to achieve bridging between research and policy recommendations. That is, applying research results in developing frameworks and guidelines to enable policy- and decision-makers to deploy appropriate tools and technologies for EGOV4SD development; and carrying out projects to build government capacity in applying the developed frameworks and guidelines in defining and evaluating EGOV4SD policies, strategies and programmes. The latter also stresses that capacity building projects can be used to evaluate research results. In addition, the results of the GCIO and EGOV education research will be directly reflected in the curriculum and organization of the planned Executive Master’s Programme in Government Information Leadership. In turn, the lessons learnt while implementing this programme will be used to validate research results.

    Value Added

    There is value added by the programme for the UN system by promoting and enabling the establishment of the Chief Information Officer function within UN organizations to follow international best practices in the area. The added value for UNU is raising system-focused and technological considerations traditionally pursued by UNU-IIST to the organizational and policy level on a par with other institutes like UNU-MERIT, thus creating opportunities for collaboration. The value added for governments and policymakers is that the programme is connecting research and policy communities, and mapping theoretical frameworks and practical tools to provide fresh insights into policy issues, and making available formal GCIO education instead of professional training.

    Dissemination

    The outputs from the programme will be disseminated through research publications, edited works, frameworks, courseware, policy briefs, toolkits, knowledge bases and software. The outcomes will be disseminated through publications, conference presentations, training events, as well as the curriculum of the planned Executive Master’s Programme in Government Information Leadership, among others. Specific channels include: the ICEGOV conference series, UNU, UNU-IIST and UNU-IIST-EGOV portals, Our World 2.0, events organized in collaboration with UNU-ONY, social media, etc.

    Timeline/Programme Cycle

    The programme is expected to last for at least five years beginning in January 2012 and contributing to the implementation of at least two editions of the Executive Master’s Programme in Government Information Leadership beginning in January 2013 and January 2015.

    Evaluation

    The performance of the programme will be assessed biannually based on the indicators established by UNU-IIST and UNU to cover progress in the four prescribed activity areas: research, policy support, capacity building and education.

    Challenges

    The main challenge facing the programme is to secure long-term funding to balance existing short-term project contributions, and to secure a long-term faculty to ensure successful launch and continuation of the Executive Master Programme in Government Information Leadership.

    Expected Duration

    The programme is expected to run for a duration of 84 months, from 1 January 2010 through 31 December 2016.

  • Activities within the programme will involve cooperation between the UNU International Institute for Software Technology and three partners:

    • UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Institute on Innovation and Technology
    • UNU Office at the United Nations, NY
    • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
  • Prof. Peter F. Haddawy, Director
    United Nations University
    International Institute for Software Technology
    Casa Silva Mendes, Estrada do Engenheiro Trigo No. 4, Macau
    Mailing address: P.O. Box 3058, Macau

    T: +853 2871-2930
    F: +853 2871-2940
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