1 Page 1 of 32 Information Technology for good Governance Francisco Magno and Ramonette Serafica Introduction Since the mid-1980s, strategic efforts have been exerted by many countries to build their telecommunication and Information The mobilization of Information Technology (IT) is deemed crucial in fostering national competitiveness in the context of a rapidly changing global economy. Increasingly, strong IT capacity is perceived to make a difference not only in the marketplace but also in the field of Governance . Governance deals with the structures and dynamics of rule making and collective action in society. Processes of Governance do not necessarily reside solely within the sphere of state action and authority.
2 The contemporary understanding of Governance springs from the recognition that governments are limited in their capacity. Such limitation should be considered in the design of public programs. The integration of participatory elements in decision making is vital in undertaking effective public * Francisco Magno is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Social Development Research Center, De La Salle University, Manila. Ramonette Serafica is Associate Professor of Economics, De La Salle University, Manila. For correspondence, please contact The authors acknowledge the support of the Asia Foundation and the Yuchengco Center for East Asia in the preparation of this study.
3 Research assistance was provided by Lord Byron Abadeza, Jane Lynn Capacio, Kareff May Rafisura, and Cresmar Yparaguirre. Glenn Sipin reviewed an early version of this paper. Governance could be seen in broad terms as a system for steering and coordinating collective action. However, the realm of public action transcends notions of public delivery and state-led The state's role is transformed from that of an almighty sovereign to one that is based on coordination and fusion of public and private resources. New modes of policy consultation are experimented to improve citizen engagement in the policy 1 For a survey of the policy approaches taken by various countries to develop their Information industries, see Dianne Northfield, The Information Policy Maze: Global Challenges - National Responses (Melbourne: RMIT University Press, 1999).
4 2 See Milton Esman, The Maturing of Development Administration, Public Administration and Development, vol. 8, no. 2 (1988): 125-134. 3 Mark Turner and David Hulme, Governance , Administration and Development: Making the State Work (London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1997), p. 21. Page 2 of 32 deliberation process. Information tools such as electronic web sites are utilized to allow various stakeholders to present their perceptions on public In view of the clamor for political innovations in society, it is important to gain a steady grasp of how new Information systems could raise the quality of Governance in ways that would satisfy citizen demands. This study, therefore, seeks to assess the role of IT in promoting good Governance . It surveys the various efforts exerted by national line agencies and local government units in the Philippines to integrate IT in the implementation of policy and administrative reforms.
5 The drivers and hurdles to such initiatives are likewise examined. Finally, the paper identifies areas for extending analytical inquiry and policy action in the terrain of electronic Governance . The Role of IT in good Governance Advances in IT offer potentially beneficial effects on Governance . For instance, the increased performance and availability at reduced cost of microelectronics, fiber optics, voice and video compression, fast-packet switching and high-density storage Technology could be utilized to make public administration more efficient. Technology convergence due to digitalization, wide band transmission, compression technologies, and standards development lends support for the low cost provision of public services such as health care and education.
6 The pursuit of democratic Governance could be fostered with a nation's access to a much greater diversity of communication sources and network designs. This is facilitated by the unbundling of communication functions and services due to the emergence of competing technologies, the dispersal of intelligence through diverse communication networks, the demands of large users, and the institution of competitive markets. In developing countries like the Philippines, the expansion of two-way interactive media can support local grassroots participation. Democratic politics could be enhanced through the utilization of updated networking capabilities due to improvements in integration and switching technologies such as routers, intelligent hubs and asynchronous transfer mode, together with advances in wide band transmission technologies and software support applications.
7 The increased mobility and portability arising from distributed intelligence and innovations in wireless technologies such as satellite receivers, cellular telephony, radio paging, private branch exchange equipment, and local area and wide area networks also provide a rich environment for cultivating good IT promotes good Governance in three basic ways: (1) by increasing transparency, Information , and accountability; (2) by facilitating accurate decision-making and public participation; and (3) by enhancing the efficient delivery of public goods and services. The citizen's right to gain access to public documents is supported under the country's constitutional framework. Promotion of this right is pursued through the government s computerization program and the availability of these documents through the Internet.
8 Many government agencies use IT facilities to tell the public about their accomplishments, achievements, programs, and plans. The availability of 4 Jon Pierre and B. Guy Peters, Governance , Politics and the State (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 2000), pp. 23-25. 5 Robin Mansell and Uta Wehn (etc.), Knowledge Societies: Information Technology for Sustainable Development (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 96-97. Page 3 of 32 Information helps people, especially those who live in the provinces, to access the data that they need without going to the nation's capital. Information about government operations is a basic requirement in fostering transparency in Governance . The use of IT could enable the government, as well as civil society, to inform the people of their rights and privileges.
9 Government web sites allow the citizens to send their reactions and feedback on issues that affect them. For example, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) web site provides entries where the consumers, exporters, and business people are afforded the opportunity to ask questions, provide suggestions, and file complaints. Increased transparency in the running of government cultivates a more informed citizenry. The drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Electronic Commerce Act was posted in the web and was able to accelerate the speed for conducting public consultations since concerned stakeholders were able to express their opinions directly through the Aside from the Internet, there are other means by which transparency and accountability is promoted though the use of IT.
10 Through computer kiosks, people gain access to Information especially on contributions to insurance and loan applications, similar to what is provided by the Social Security Service. The increased ability of government agencies and citizens to interact provides a favorable setting where more accurate and appropriate decisions can be made. The IT office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) evolved from a data retrieval office to a body that provides decision options. An important thing to consider in this instance is the ability of IT to connect the central offices to the local areas. This paves the way for the enhancement of local inputs to The amount of paper used by the government is greatly reduced by using updated Information and data base systems.