We would like to introduce our keynote speaker Dr. Shauneen Furlong of the upcoming CeDEM15 to you. CeDEM15 is an international Conference for e-Democracy and Open Government and will take place at Danube University Krems (22-25.5.20015). It brings together specialists – working in academia, politics, government and business – to critically analyse innovations, issues, ideas and challenges in the digital age.
We have asked Shauneen Furlong 7 questions relating to her professional experiences and the topics she will present at the CeDEM15. See what she responded and get to know her a bit more before the CeDEM15!
1. Your Keynote”International Challenges to Transformational eGovernment” at CeDEM15 is based upon your recent research – how did you become involved in this topic?
When eGovernment was first introduced, it offered the hope and promise to revitalize and modernize public services; reinvigorate and improve services to citizens, business and governments; and, create an exciting environment for employees to work and contribute. Countries, world-wide were inexorably engaged and urged forward by both push and pull motivational pressures to use technology to improve democratic participation, social harmony and economic sustainability. However, it has not achieved the international worldwide transformational success anticipated; in fact, it has primarily focused on transactional advancements.
I wanted to know why, and what could be done to realize its potential.
2. Which similarities, according to transformational eGovernment, have you experienced in the last 20 years, while you were working in different countries around the world?
Most countries faced similiar challenges irrespective of their position on the eGovernment implementation scale. Both industrialised and developing countries have similiar challenges in managing cultural changes with their organizations, implementating citizen centric solutions, and adequately modernizing and transforming their public sector instititutions. Many countries suffer from the challenges and difficulties with respect to process bound transactional governance, the disruptive consequences of accerated ICT, the digital divide, and organizational opposition and instransigence involved in the implementation of innovative, transformational and unprecedented government wide solutions.
3. Are there similarities – or differences – you were surprised with?
eGovernment differences arise from country characteristics and capacities such as culture, economic status and technology development. Differences also arise from technology legacy contributions, drawbacks and unintended consequences as a result of innovative implementations.
In terms of similiarities, many countries focused on transactional advancement in the proliferation of service delivery while generally protecting current operations,business processes and organizational structures.
Why were the opportunities inherent in the inculcation of technology not explored and embraced, and why was this so difficult to achieve?
4. Is there a project you’re most proud of – can you share with us why?
The World Information Services Alliance and Technology Association (WITSA), an organization that represents the national technology associations in 80 countries, deserves kudos for its recognition that eGovernment developments are vital to each country’s progress in revitalizing their public sector institutions and practices to compete and survive in the 21st century. And to that end, they invited me to design and conduct a survey seeking information and perceptions on the international barriers and challenges that hinder eGovernment success, and how they can be mitigated. This survey led to the creation of a synergistic compendium of 10 international challenges that inhibit eGovernment sucess, and highlighted opportunities within current project management methodogies to contribute to eGovernment success.
5. You are working a lot on PM (Project Management) topics related to eGovernment – what do you think should be done to improve it?
Project management methodologies, originally designed to address the industrial and manufacturing age, do not adequately respond to the needs of today’s eGovernment initiatives – the project failure rate is too high (up to 80 % in some cases). Methodologies have to be revamped to migrate from an administrative compliance methodology to a results based accountability methodology. Project management has not yet evolved to a state where it can become a key force in the finding and implementing of solutions. It does not bring enough value from technology, and does not facilitate radical changes to organizational arrangements, reengineered business processes, or more client focused human resource behaviour. This failing introduces the possibility of using an informationally enhanced, results focused, project/enterprise based management methodology to potentially address some of these issues, and highlights the need for technological support within the project management discipline.
6. What is your vision for the future of eGovernment?
As mentioned above, when introduced, eGovernment offered the hope and promise to revitalize and modernize public services; reinvigorate and improve services to citizens, business and governments; and, create an exciting environment for employees to work and contribute. Countries, world-wide could use technology and eGovernment to improve democratic participation, social harmony and economic sustainability.
My vision is that eGovernment deliver on this promise, and that it becomes the transformational force originally envisioned.
7. What do you want people to take away from your Keynote?
eGovernment brought unfettered rhetoric, anticipation and promise. It was first developed when dot com valuations were in high gear and rapid ascendancy. The prefix ‘e’ was the mantra of the era.
Even after two decades, there remains a sense of underachievement. Revolutionary changes to administration and democracy have not yet universally materialized. Many in both the public and private sector share the view that digital innovation has barely been probed. Much remains to be done. eGovernment’s first two decades have arguably been more transactional than transformational.
This can be changed in the next decade – and today’s academics in collaboration with eGovernment practitioners and subject matter experts can help make this happen.
Dr. Shauneen Furlong
Shauneen Furlong is an ICT and eGovernment consultant and professor at the University of Toronto, the University of Ottawa and around the world. Her main topics are eGovernment and project management. She has executive level management experience in a number of Government central agencies and departments over a period of 20 years. She was nominated by IT World Canada as being one of Canada’s key eGovernment drivers and was profiled by Computer World Canada. Shauneen Furlong has published articles and peer reviewed papers for international journals, textbooks and conferences.
‘What is needed to advance Transformational eGovernment and why: A different approach to Project Management’, Technology Development and Platform Enhancements for Successful Global E-Government Design, IGI Global, University of Botswana, March 2014: http://www.igi-global.com/chapter/what-is-needed-to-advance-transformational-e-government-and-why/96707