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Sunday, April 13, 2014

E Governance in Estonia

AADHAAR hopefully will survive political transition. It is interesting to learn how a small country Estonia embraced technology to provide e-governance to its citizens.
Electronic government is the use of information and communication  technologies in government to provide public services, to improve  managerial effectiveness and to promote democratic values and  mechanisms; as well as a regulatory framework that facilitates  information intensive initiatives and fosters the knowledge society.

  • Estonia of the 1990s did not have an industrial policy, nor did it engage in policies that would target the ICT sector or companies directly.
  • General government spending on research and development in the 1990s was below 0.5 percent of the GDP, and there were no crucial technology or innovation policies to speak of . Even the spending on information and communication technologies (ICT) remained modest from 1995 to 2003 in comparison with other countries. Estonian government budget has allocated about one percent for the ICT expenditure throughout this period, while many other countries spend 2.5-4 percent of the budget.
  • Only exception to this hands-off policy is the fact that in 1997 Estonia’s public sector did support the launch of the Tiigrih├╝ppe (Tiger’s Leap) program, which provided information technology to many schools. 
  • The electronic exchange of official government documents is still limited still in 2007 because different departments purchased different software solutions which are not compatible with each other. Since the Estonian government departments tend to rely on proprietary solutions, then vendor lock-in is wide-spread.
Despite absence of grand plans and regulations, Estonia succeeded in e-governance because enlightened leadership believed in  e-democracy, good habit of attention to detail, an effective legal  framework, and  the macroeconomic stability  of the country.

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