Putting the ‘e’ in Government: Can ICT solutions deliver good governance?

As part of the European Week of Cities and Regions, the EU Open Days, the ALDE group in the Committee of the Regions held on 13 October a workshop on eGovernment. The moderator, François Decoster, Vice-President of the ALDE-CoR group and Mayor of St-Omer, reminded the audience that eGovernment aims to facilitate the interaction between citizens and central as well as local administration. Indeed, he used the French example –  large number of cities needing to coordinate their work –  to illustrate the benefits of eGovernment.
The three guest speakers respectively presented the European, the Belgian and the Latvian point of view as well as specific practices on eGovernment and ICT solutions. They all agreed that although eGovernment is a high-risk matter, it is also an opportunity to be seized. Maximilian Strotmann, member of Andrus Ansip’s Cabinet, outlined that government should be digital, open, and interoperable, which is also why the European Interoperability Framework was created. However, he regretted that the rules set by this framework do not apply to the European institutions. Frank Leyman, International Relations manager at Fedict, presented the Digital Belgium project based on digital infrastructure, economy, skills, jobs, trust, security, and government. Eriks Zegelis, Director of IT Centre of the Riga City Council, addressed the more practical solutions and explained the objective of the ICT center in Riga – providing a data center with one cloud for employees and one for clients that adapts new e-services to citizens’ life cycle.

In a nutshell, the workshop explored successful case studies where ICT solutions have empowered citizens and proven to be an effective platform to generate benefits in terms of employment, health and education. What better way to conclude than with a quote from one of the speakers: “Why invest in ICT? The answer is simple; it is investing in good governance”.

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