E-forms more wide-spread
On hearing of e-government, some might imagine state officers with cables linked to their heads but, of course, it simply refers to the automated process of rendering state services. What does e-government look like in Belarus and what changes should we expect to notice?
By Alexander Bogomazov
Programmes: follow one from another
Numerous definitions of ‘e-government’ exist but, simply put, it’s the automated process of rendering state services. Gartner Group views e-government as an ongoing process to ensure optimisation and to encourage citizens’ participation (through technical means, the Internet and modern media). American and European specialists view such services as essential, paid for from budgetary funds.
As the Informatisation Department at Belarus’ Ministry for Communications and Informatisation notes, our country can already be proud of its steps in setting up e-government. According to the fourth annual report on Measuring Information Society, published by the International Telecommunication Union in late 2012, our country is 46th on the ICT Development Index. Moreover, Belarus is second among CIS states — behind Russia. The report notes that our country is among the top ten most dynamically developing states for ‘assess’ and ‘use’ while the UN has placed the Republic 61st (among 191 states) for its readiness to introduce e-government.
Keeping in touch with the state
To take advantage of all the possibilities of e-government (online forms, references and enquiries) legislation is required to cover this paper-less interaction between citizens and state bodies. Once in place, the country will be able to advance significantly down this road.
Last year, two programmes (out of 13) were completed as part of the E-training and Human Capital Development strategy. This brought 10 new educational standards, 10 typical curriculum plans and 60 educational programmes for training ICT specialists. In addition, the automated information system for e-registration of top managers and reserve personnel was modernised.
Customs officers are working on e-customs, promising to launch electronic preliminary declaration, and to modernise customs bodies’ information communication infrastructure. Moreover, the authorities’ PR departments are to gain their own websites, as part of the National Content Formation sub-programme. Software is being developed to service national Internet streaming of television programmes and to create a national e-library.
“The Republic now has the foundations of an information society, with legislation being created and national ICT infrastructure developing. Belarus has a well-developed information industry of its own, being able to create its own fully-fledged e-government — which is vital for economic competitiveness,” asserts the Ministry for Communications and Informatisation.