There are several challenges that can delay progress towards realizing the promise of e-government. The variety and complexity of e-government initiatives implies the existence of a wide range of challenges and barriers to its implementation and management. This section will briefly introduce the most important and common challenges and barriers as follows.
The implementation of e-government initiatives face some technological difficulties such as lack of shared standards and compatible infrastructure among departments and agencies. ICT infrastructure is recognised to be one of the main challenges for e-government. Internetworking is required to enable appropriate sharing of information and open up new channels for communication and delivery of new services. For a transition to electronic government, an architecture providing a uniform guiding set of principles, models and standards, is needed. In order to deliver e government services, government must therefore develop an effective telecommunication infrastructure. In addition, they stated that successful e-government implementation would depend upon how the capacities of various infrastructures are structured and how they are capitalized with an integrated focus.
Security of an information system means protection of information and systems against accidental or intentional disclosure to unauthorized access, or unauthorized modifications or destruction. It refers to protection of the information architecture including network, hardware and software assets and the control of access to the information itself. Security can be classified into two elements: network security and documents security. It should include maintenance and e infrastructure protection in the form of firewalls and limits on those who have access to data. Furthermore, the use of security technology, including digital signatures and encryption, to protect user IDs, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other such data being transmitted over the Internet and stored electronically is essential to fulfilling security goals in e-government applications. People need to be educated on the importance of security measures, ISBN: 978-972-8939-20-5 © 2010 IADIS 38
such as private passwords, to ensure their own protection. The first involves continuous improvement and upgrades in an attempt to stay ahead of criminals.
The second is that security be visible and foreboding to deter would be criminals. Finally, it must be accepted that no security system is perfect and that all can eventually be overcome. However, governmental organizations, being responsible for the collection, maintenance, and distribution of sensitive or confidential information, should consider methods of providing security for collected information as well as for their web sites. Thus, a body of security professionals should be set up to respond to threats and breaches. Also the need for authority and an infrastructure encryption system has to be given top-priority.
Policy and Regulation Issues
Implementation of e-government principles and functions requires a range of new rules, policies, laws and governmental changes to address electronic activities including electronic archiving, electronic signatures, transmission of information, data protection, computer crime, intellectual property rights and copyright issues. Dealing with e-government means signing a contract or a digital agreement, which has to be protected and recognized by a formalized law, which protects and secure these kinds of activities or processes. In many countries, e-business and e-government laws are not yet available. Establishing protections and legal reforms will be needed to ensure, among other things, the privacy, security and legal recognition of electronic interactions and electronic signatures. The effort must incorporate a holistic view, one that is not just focused on technology. Legal reforms and new policy directives may have to be adopted before the online world can function smoothly. Archaic laws, old regulatory regimes, overlapping and conflicting authorities can all greatly complicate or altogether halt a project.
The ability to use computers and the Internet has become a crucial success factor in e-government implementation, and the lack of such skills may lead to marginalization or even social exclusion. The digital divide refers to the gap in opportunity between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not. Those who do not have access to the Internet will be unable to benefit from online services. In the case of the digital divide, not all citizens currently have equal access to computers and the Internet, whether due to a lack of financial resources, necessary skills, or other reasons. In fact, computer literacy is required for people to be able to take advantage of e-government applications. Government should train its employees and citizens in basic skills of dealing with the computer and Internet in order to let them participate in e-government development applications. Lack of Internet access among certain sections of the population was considered the most important barrier to e-government development. Indeed, this lack of access among vulnerable or low-income citizens prevents them from being able to make use of those services provided specifically to them. UN (2008) survey found that an increase in digital divide in developing countries increases the cost of technical barriers in launching and sustaining e-government services.
Some barriers to the implementation of e-government are not technical, but the cultural implications of new technologies. Personal characteristics and subjective conditions are more likely to be influenced by cultural factors than are the objective conditions surrounding the development and diffusion of new technology. Cultural norms and individual behaviour patterns play a role in how citizens and policy makers use technology. Because culture plays a significant role in an individual’s outlook, many people resist change and adopt new technologies slowly and with great deliberation (Feng, 2003). Improving working relationships between internal departments and external agencies, and adopting a corporate approach as keys to successful e-government. To achieve this, it was felt that major cultural changes are necessary. Organizational development should be included in the implementation process so that internal cultural changes are accommodated. Culture can be determined by several factors: social structure, religion, language, education, economic philosophy and political philosophy. Technical enhancements are not only structural changes, but also cultural changes. These cultural changes, though not as easily tangible, must receive at least as much planning so that technical change is implemented successfully.
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