3# E-Government

CeDEM is now EGOV-CeDEM-ePart – some impressions

I participated in the colloquium of CeDEM 18 (now: EGOV-CeDEM-ePart), and wanted to briefly note down some impressions.

Small conferences FTW 🙂

It seems like EGOV-CeDEM-ePart has now become a small community of people interested in researching “e-topics” – attended by researchers and practitioneers. It is often hard to get beyond your own thematic track at bigger international conferences – at EGOV-CeDEM-ePart I always find this easy, but can still connect to scholars and experts from all around the globe. This year there were also 4 (!) social events, which were attended by many participants, particularly the boat conference dinner (which was often discussed, but still a first time experience).

From thoughts to reality

In general, it seems like when researching e-society, e-democracy and e-governance related domain,s we have entered a phase where we are not looking at the dangers and hurdles of potential innovations or developments anymore: we look at them from the perspective of their implementation. In other words: Ideas discussed at some previous conferences have turned into practise. I particularly liked the workshops where the “how” of such new realities was discussed, for instance the one about the Open Data Market Austria. (more…)

EPU-Workshop Technology Revolution, Public Administration and Participation: Guangzhou (China)

From 21-23 July 2018 the workshop Technology Revolution and Public Administration took place in Guagzhou, China. This workshop was sponsored by a grant from the Eurasia-Pacific Uninet (EPU). Researchers from the Centre for E-Governance at Danube University Krems and the Department of Media and Communication at City University Hong Kong took part. It was hosted by the Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou.

Participants of the EPU Meeting in the afternoon

The first session addressed aspects of governmental innovation, e-governance and digital and mobile governance. A particular emphasis was on governmental hotlines and artificial intelligence as well as accessibility of hotlines, f.i. through the usage of languages (50 different languages can be selected in New York, for instance). Examples from New York also included open data contests (Big Apps 3.0) and open data principles. It is interesting that Big Data was called a “tiger flying” – hinting at the different techno-positive metaphors of datafication that seem to be found for this phenomenon around the world. The governmental hotline in Guangzhou is called 12345 and a few presentations were held around this topic.

The second session of the workshop addressed aspects of political participation, civic engagement and social media in a global and Asian context. The following presentations were held: (more…)

CeDEM Asia 2018, Yokahoma (Japan): Keynote Speakers

Following eleven successful conferences in Austria and three inspiring conferences in Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea, we are looking forward to continuing the forum in Asia for exchange of ideas, networking, and collaboration. We are very pleased to announce the following keynote speakers and would like to highlight their talks.

Keynotes:

Shanto Iyengar (Stanford University):

Intense Partisanship: Implications for Electoral Accountability

 

Francis Lee, Chinese University of Hong Kong:

Creating Polarization as a Political Strategy in an Authoritarian Context

Mario Voigt, Quadriga University of Applied Sciences Berlin:

Winning at all Cost: The Future of Democratic Elections

(more…)

The Digital Gamble: New Technology Transforms Fiscal Policy

By Vitor Gaspar and Geneviève Verdier

April 12, 2018

Traffic in Singapore: the city uses digital technology for road pricing to manage road congestion congestion 

In Rwanda, digitally-monitored drones deliver blood supplies to hospitals. In Estonia, it takes five minutes to file taxes and 99 percent of government services are available online. Singapore was the first city to implement electronic road pricing to manage congestion. The world is becoming digital, and reliable, timely, and accurate information is available at the push of a button. Governments are following suit, using digital tools for tax and expenditure policy, public financial management, and public service delivery. 

With better information, governments can build better systems, as well as design and implement better policies. Our new Fiscal Monitor shows both the opportunities and challenges at play as technology transforms fiscal policy.

Place a bet

The gamble? Going for the digital payoff despite the potential for fraud, breaches of privacy and cybersecurity, and the cost of adopting new technologies.

The innovators have been quick to take advantage of digital tools to facilitate the lives of citizens. Effortless tax season? Check. Kenyans pay taxes on their smart phones; Norwegians have their tax returns prepopulated by their government. Better public services? Done. Indians receive social benefits through electronic transfers to bank accounts linked to their biometric identification.

Countries can now tackle tax evasion with digital solutions. British customs are using big data to detect fraudulent behavior of importers at the border. We estimate that adopting such methods could increase annual indirect tax collection at the border by up to 1-2 percent of GDP.

The Panama and the Paradise papers have exposed the substantial wealth sheltered in low-tax jurisdictions—an average of 10 percent of world GDP. With digital cross-country information exchange about taxpayers comes the prospect of more effectively tracking down this wealth before it is hidden away.

Avoid the gamble?

Why would a government not bet on new technology?

Reasons vary. Citizens don’t trust their government to safeguard their personal information. In the United States, less than a third of people believe the government can keep their digital records secure.

Many poor households lack access to digital tools and could be left behind. Fewer than half of the population of Africa subscribes to a mobile phone.

New fraud opportunities abound: authorities in Korea recently raided the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges for alleged tax evasion. Cash-strapped governments with low capacity face greater challenges in managing these risks.

Digital firms are all around

Some challenges are policy related. Firms like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are in the public eye but digital firms are all around us. They generate sales with little physical presence. They benefit from value created by users—using apps on our smart phones produces free yet valuable information. Can and should governments tax such value where the consumer resides, even when the firm has its physical home elsewhere?

The sheer scale of digital activities has raised concerns about the fairness of the current allocation of international taxing rights. Some countries—Israel, Italy—have introduced specialized tax measures targeting digital firms but such uncoordinated solutions cannot provide the answer. As the whole economy becomes digital, global solutions are required.

The way forward

People are replacing taxis with Uber, hotels with Airbnb, and cash with PayPal. Can governments stay on the sidelines of such a transformation?

Probably not. Overcoming challenges will require:

  • A proactive and comprehensive reform agenda that addresses political and institutional weaknesses to manage digital risks and ensure inclusion. In India, this meant not only introducing biometric identification to deliver income support to the right beneficiaries, but also reforming the design of the program itself.
  • Adequate resources in the budget . Korea secured budget resources for multi-year plans early on in its digitalization process.
  • International cooperation . In some cases, confronting these challenges calls for international resolve. For example, reducing evasion to low-tax jurisdictions or forming a consensus on the taxation of the digital economy will require multilateral efforts.

Digitalization will not solve all the problems faced by policymakers—it may even create some new ones. But governments can’t lay odds against this trend. Resist at your peril, or embark on a journey to shape the way forward.

Call for Papers: Special Issue JeDEM 10(1)

JeDEM 1/2018:
Collaborative Governance for Smart Sustainable Cities

 Guest Editors

  • Gabriela Viale Pereira, Department for E-Governance and Administration, Danube University Krems, Austria
  • Tomasz Janowski, Department for E-Governance and Administration, Danube University Krems, Austria and Department for Applied Informatics in Management, Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland
  • Elsa Estevez, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Universidad Nacional del Sur and Institute of Computer Science and Engineering (UNS–CONICET), Bahía Blanca, Argentina

Background

With cities around the world facing unprecedented sustainability challenges including “growing numbers of slum dwellers, increased air pollution, inadequate basic services and infrastructure, and unplanned urban sprawl” (United Nations, 2017), UN-Habitat (2016) recently called for a new generation of national urban policies that reach “beyond the traditional boundaries of the city and fosters stronger horizontal and vertical linkages, and creative partnerships in order to tackle complex urban problems in a coordinated way”. By May 2017, 149 countries responded to this call by developing their own national urban policies (United Nations, 2017). (more…)

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