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Electronic government in Sweden

Comments to my interview on electronic government
Transmitted by the Russian edition of Radio Sweden International on 7 December 2009.

The motive for this interview was as follows. For the last several months, I have followed the Russian press discussing efforts of the Russian political leadership, and the president of the Russian Federation, D. Medvedjev, in particular, to introduce "electronic government" in the Russian Federation. The discussions touch various issues from successful demonstration of the electronic government made to president Medvedjev in Singapore to the necessity of punishing governmental officials not using electronic government by introducing a special kind of penalties. From these discussions, the reader not familiar with the subject can easily get an impression that electronic government is being introduced with great ease and success everywhere except Russia.

Such an impression does not correspond to reality, at least not in Sweden (which has the highest rank in this area). Of course, things that do not require any change inside governmental offices are widely introduced. You do not need to change much when setting a web site where you inform about your open hours or “hang” all forms that should be filled when applying for services.

As soon as you try to go beyond these simple goals things become difficult. The Swedish computer press often discusses unsuccessful projects on which governmental agencies spend enormous sums for development of useless systems or systems they are unable to implement in practice. This accurately corresponds to my own experience as a client of services provided by these agencies.

In my professional capacity, I work on development and implementing IT-systems that support business/administrative processes. I have little experience of working with the central government, but several of our projects are implemented by local governments (municipalities). Our company has experience of both successful and not so successful IT-introductions. This experience helps to understand the difficulties of introducing the IT-system that requires changes in the way of how a given organization functions. Technically, to create a proper system is an easy job. To create a system that is easy to introduce is a much more difficult task. The system should be convenient to work with, but it should not be overcomplicated, and it should have something inside that the end-users find familiar. Even in this case, to introduce the system in practice is a project on its own.

To listen in Microsoft media player (in Russian):

Электронное правительство в Швеции

Беседа с  доктором философии Ильей Бидером.



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